There is nothing like a nice cup of tea to settle one’s nerves after a long day of work. For quite a long time, Green tea has been considered as one of the most beneficial and healthy drinks that people started to integrate in everyday life.
Along with its use, Green tea became one universal elixir of life and people around the world just fell for it. –But first…
What is green tea?
Green tea is basically a product made out of the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis shrub (a species of evergreen shrub ). It’s mostly consumed as a beverage that’s pale in color and slightly bitter in flavor.
Sneak peek on history
The use of Camellia sinensis leaves dates back to 3,000 years ago in the southwest area of China. However, Tea has gone through a lot of stages to get here. It first started as a luxury item (on the 3rd century), then transformed slowly into a drink consumed commonly by the public…
Four Centuries after and during the “tang dynasty” period (an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui dynasty), Tea became ingrained as an essential element in the daily life of the Chinese community.
Only until the 10th century that tea introduced itself to the English community from the royal class to the public and then, to the rest of the world. Late in the 16th and 17th centuries, many famous varieties of green tea have been developed like: Tiger Hill, Tianchi, Yangxian, Liu’an, Longjing and Tianmu green teas.
Where does it come from?
Nowadays, the most qualified and popular brands of tea come from China, followed by Japan, Vietnam, and Indonesia. For example, Japanese world-famous Matcha and Chinese Gunpowder are one of the best green tea products you could ever have and they’re consumed worldwide.
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Are there other types of tea?
Yes. Actually, there are 3 types: there is the White, Green and Black tea. They all derive from the same shrub which is Camellia sinensis, however, the harvesting and processing of leaves procured from the plant determine the kind of tea it will bring.
This means the more the leaves are oxidized, the more the color will darken along with the strengthening of the taste. So, first comes white tea, then green and last comes the black one that’s been oxidized the most.
But, what is oxidization?
Oxidization is the process in which the plant leaves get dried, after going through a primal process that focuses on rolling the tea leaves to enable the release of their essential enzymes.
Green tea should not be confused with herbal teas
Herbal teas are often made out of herbs, spices or dried fruits. Jasmine tea, Cinnamon tea, and Chamomile tea are some of the most famous delicious teas. However, these kinds of tea don’t have any tea in them and thus, they’re caffeine-free (unlike the actual tea).
What’s in my cup?
There is no wonder some powerful ingredients stand behind all the hype the green tea is getting. Well… let’s cut the hype!
Green tea consists of many ingredients; some of them are listed below:
⇨ Minerals¹ (Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium)
⇨ Nutrients² (Tannins, protein, calories, etc.…)
⇨ Vitamins³(Vitamin A, C, E, and K)
¹A mineral is a naturally occurring substance that is solid and inorganic representable by a chemical formula, usually a biogenic, and has an ordered atomic structure.
²A nutrient is anything that nourishes a living being. We humans get our nutrients from what we eat; plants get theirs from the soil.
³A vitamin is an organic compound and a vital nutrient that an organism requires in limited amounts.
- Vitamin A: helps with maintaining the respiratory and digestive systems
- Vitamin C: helps with easing fatigue and preventing colds
- Vitamin E: It’s a potential anti-aging agent
⇨ Caffeine: it’s a nutrient that’s less present in tea than coffee; however, it’s there enough to do the job. Caffeine has a diuretic effect and is responsible for the bitter taste your tea might have
Polyphenols are plant-based molecules that have antioxidant properties. They are divided into four groups: phenolic acids, lignans, stilbenes, and flavonoids.
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In this case, Flavonoids is what concerns us since it’s one of the most active ingredients found in green tea.
Flavonoids are one of the largest nutrient families; they have over 6,000 already-identified family members including quercetin, kaempferol, catechins, and anthocyanidins. They can be found in pears, apples, grapes, peaches cranberries, apricots and of course tea.
In green tea, Catechins present more than half of the Polyphenols. The most potent of the catechins found in polyphenols is the EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which is well known for its tremendous health benefits like fighting tooth decay, harmful bacteria, and skin problems.
EGCG has been reported to be beneficial in so many cases, for example:
It’s so good for health
EGCG helps regulate the glucose level in the blood because it exercises a small inhibition on carbohydrate digesting enzymes, let alone its capability of increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease for being a potent antioxidant.
EGCG might be a possible cancer inhibitor. It suppresses tumor growth by stopping the release of tumor necrosis factor-alpha; it’s known for being a tumor promotion stimulator.
EGCG helps with increasing metabolic rate and prevent the digestion of some carbohydrates. Also, a study made on rats has proven that the injection of the EGCG in their blood system reduced their appetite.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD):
Based on a lecture in San Antonio, Texas at the American College of Nutrition conference in October 2002, EGCG can be considered as an important agent in reducing the inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Another research has explained that the ECGC does it by inhibiting interleukin 8 (IL-8): A pro-inflammatory cytokine.
How is green tea good for my brain?
Along with the caffeine, green tea also contains amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine helps a lot with increasing the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and helps also with increasing dopamine and the production of alpha waves.
This way anxiety level may reduce a lot and stress can be managed. Add to that, both caffeine and L-theanine play a smart duo; their combination helps with improving the brain function and performance.
Is green tea good for the memory?
Recent studies have shown that catechin compounds present in green tea come with protective effects on neurons which means the risk of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson can be reduced.
Are there any side effects?
According to the University of Maryland medical center, Green tea’s not considered dangerous, however, they claim that people who drink large amounts of caffeine, including caffeine from green tea, for long periods of time may experience irritability, insomnia, heart palpitations, and dizziness.
Caffeine overdose can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and loss of appetite. If you are drinking a lot of tea and start to vomit or have abdominal spasms, you may have caffeine poisoning. If your symptoms are severe, lower your caffeine intake and see your healthcare provider.
Precautions and quick tips
- Don’t use boiled water when you prepare your tea, it’s not good for the Catechins.
- Every 100 to 150 ml of water should have two grams or one heaped teaspoon of green tea.
- Avoid consuming your tea with stimulant drugs; it could possibly increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
- If you’re a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, consider consulting your doctor before you consume green tea.
- Use green tea to rinse your hair: Steep 2 tea bags in 2-3 cups of hot water and let the water cool down, then massage it into your scalp. It leaves your hair smooth and quite shiny.
- Use your tea bags to get rid of puffy eyes: Soak 2 tea bags in hot water for a few minutes then take them out and let them cool down; put them on your eyelids for about 15 minutes. Repeat a few times a day.
(4) It’s an amino acid analogue of the proteinogenic amino acids L-glutamate and L-glutamine and is found primarily in particular plant and fungal species.
(5) It’s a compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter and a precursor of other substances including adrenaline.