What is Green Tea? Benefits?
Green tea is a type of tea that comes from the steamed and dried leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant. So, it’s scientific or medical name is Camellia sinesis. This plant originates from China. There are botanical evidence indicates that China and India were among the first countries to cultivate tea. The Chinese have been drinking green tea for at least 3,000 years. Green tea (Chinese name “lu cha”) is often associated with many cultures in Asia from Japan to the Middle East. In many countries such as China, India, Japan, Thailand green tea is one of national drinks.
Camellia sinesis plant, whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce various types of Chinese tea (green tea, white tea, black tea, oolong, pu-erh tea etc.), is also called tea plant, tea tree, and tea shrub. This tea plant can reach a height of 30 feet in the wild, but cultivated plants constantly pruned for convenient picking and to produce only the finest leaves for green tea that is high in nutrients. It grows only in warm climates and today is cultivated across the world in tropical and subtropical regions. After 2,5 to 5 years tea plant became ready for commercial picking and can provide leaves for many years (about age 30, it is no longer capable of producing the prized leaves). The season in which the leaves are picked is vital, and harvesters will pick leaves in the springtime, during morning hours.
As all teas come from the same plant, only regional growing conditions, handling, plucking and processing determine the specific type of tea (white, green, black, oolong). The varietal of the camellia sinensis add a certain character to teas.
We can say that green tea is a type of Chinese tea, but there are other types of green teas. Chinese green tea is different from Japanese or other types of green tea. The difference between many varieties of green tea is in the processing, growing conditions and harvests time. All types of tea are processed differently to attain different levels of oxidation. Green tea is a type of tea that has undergone minimal oxidation during processing. The shorter processing gives green tea a lighter flavor and helps keep all the beneficial chemicals intact. Also green tea has the highest concentration of antioxidants called polyphenols which scavenge for free radicals. Antioxidants are important because scavenge free radicals in the body and prevent some of damage that they cause (alter cells, tamper with DNA, cause cell death, and because that are believed to be involved in degenerative diseases and cancers).
Polyphenols also give green tea a somewhat bitter flavor. The major group of polyphenols in green tea are called catechins. The most active catechins are called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (also known as EGCG) and there are other five primarly catheins compounds: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate.
Green tea also contains alkaloids (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline) which provide it’s stimulant effects. Amino acid compounds (L-theanine) found in green tea is asociated with its calming effects on the nervous system.
Different kinds of green tea have almost the same taste, but flavor can be described as: fresh, light, green, or grassy. Modern green tea can be flavored with mint, lemongrass, or other strong flavors that cover the stale and oxidized taste.
Quality of green teas depends size of the leaves, where smaller leaves typically being the higher quality, but not always. The best tea is kept in whole leaves and carefully packaged.
Green tea is usually prepared using 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried tea (or approximately 2 grams of tea per cup) in a cup of boiling water, Also teaspoons can be steeped for 3 to 15 minutes in hot water (for concentrated green tea, 15-25 minutes). The higher the quality of the tea is connected with the lower water temperature. Hotter water will produce a bitter taste and destroy the tea and its flavor. Approximately 80 to 85° C (176 to 185° F) is perfect for green teas. However, this is one of many method used for preparation green tea. High-quality green teas can have new water added as many as five or more times, depending on variety, at increasingly high temperatures.
Does green tea has the ability to cure diseases and make us healthier? Currently, scientific testing has revealed that the antioxidants within green tea can improve health and bolster the immune system.
In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, green tea is used as a stimulant, diuretic, astringent (control bleeding and help heal wounds). It is used to improve heart health. Also it is often used for regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and improving mental processes.
Cup of green tea contains caffeine, although half that found in cup of coffee. Also, in green tea, caffeine is minimal if compared with other teas.
This tea can be cheap alternative to expensive toners or astringents for acne, and drinking green tea has also worked for some to decrease the presence of acne.
A lot of recent studies indicate that green tea can be a possible cancer treatment and preventative (Bladder cancer, Breast cancer, Ovarian cancer, Colorectal cancer, Esophageal cancer, Lung cancer, Pancreatic cancer, Prostate cancer, Skin cancer, Stomach cancer). Scientific testing also has revealed that green tea may be able to ward off or slow the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Many people believe that helps in weight loss, and there are clinical studies suggest that green tea extract may boost metabolism and help burn fat (fat oxidization). Researchers found that green tea significantly reduced high cholesterol. Also green teas are used traditionally to control blood sugar in the body. There are also many other benefits.
It is not clear how much green teas might be needed for beneficial effects. So, the potential health benefits from just drinking a cup of this tea can be tremendous, but 2 - 3 cups (or 100 - 750 mg standardized green tea extract) is recommended.
Green tea extract is available in capsule form and three capsules of green tea extract a day is a common recommended dosage.
Today green tea is available in many forms, as the dried leaves, prepared drinks, nutritional supplements and in conventional tea bags. As green tea is perhaps best known for its high levels of antioxidants, important for us is that the average cup of green tea contains between 50 - 150 mg polyphenols.
Conclusion: it tastes great, it is easy to make, it has many benefits!