Why should I be aware of this?
Green, Oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. What sets green tea apart is the way it is processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the Antioxidants in it from being oxidized. In contrast, black and oolong tea leaves are made from fermented leaves, which results in a powerful antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) being converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.
Green tea and health
Green Tea has been traditionally used to alleviate stomach problems, vomiting, and diarrhea. It has also been found to reduce tooth decay, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blockages of the blood vessels in the heart that can lead to heart attacks. Herbalists claim Green Tea also has powerful anti-cancer properties and believe that it is also useful in treating some bacterial infections.
The May 2008 issue of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reported that green tea polyphenols (GTP, for short) may represent a potential interventional strategy for patients with sleep-disordered breathing, or Sleep Apnea. These compounds reduce the oxidative stress and neurological deficit patterns associated with sleep apnea. In simple terms, what this means is that green tea compounds actually helped in reducing the memory loss and inflammation that afflict sleep apnea sufferers.
Current scientific research in Asia as well as the West is studying exactly how Green Tea works in the human body. A study by University of Purdue recently concluded that an Antioxidant compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Research also suggests that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol. Studies in Japan have shown that people who drink five or more cups of green tea each day are sixteen per cent less likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.
Green Tea may also be good for people who want to lose weight. In the November 1999 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a University of Geneva study claimed that men who had a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo. Many diets reccomend the consumption of at least two to three cups of green tea a day. This acts as a natural diuretic.
Green Tea contains anti bacterials that prevent food poisoning as well as tooth decay.
It also has cosmetic benefits – Green Tea extracts help the skin to reduce wrinkling, leathering and premature skin aging. Some evidence suggests that green tea reduces the risk of skin cancer. Products containing Green Tea ranging from deodorants and under eye creams to sun screens and creams and face masks, are available in the market today.
With so many health benefits, it is no wonder that Green Tea is considered to be a Super Food.
All about green tea
The Chinese drank Green Tea for its medicinal value. It was the most popularly drunk beverage during Western Han dynasty. Tea trade soon became an important component of the Chinese economy.
It used to be grown by Buddhist monks in the mountain-top monastries in China. In the sixth century, one such monk introduced tea to Japan. Ten centuries later, a Portuguese missionary carried tea to Europe. Thus the world’s romance with tea began.
How green tea is produced
Green Tea is processed very lightly. First, freshly harvested tea leaves are lightly steamed. This process softens them and prevents them from fermenting or changing colour. Then they are rolled and dried with hot air until they are crisp. In China, they are often dry-fried in woks to achieve the same end. After they are dry, Green tea leaves retain the colour as well as the slightly astringent flavour of fresh leaves.
Biochemical analysis of green tea
Green Tea is rich in Catechin Polyphenols, particularly Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). This phytochemical (compound with plant origins) is a powerful Antioxidant. It is now believed to combat cancer at all stages, from destroying chemical carcinogens, to curbing tumour-producing cells without harming healthy tissue. It is much more effective than other Antioxidants -- ECGC is as much as 100 times more powerful an antioxidant as vitamin C, and 25 times more powerful than vitamin E. Research suggests that it may also account for the antibacterial properties of green tea.
What can I do?
How to brew the perfect cup
Making a perfect cup of green tea is tricky. If over-brewed, the same Antioxidants that pack such a punch healthwise, can make the brew taste gassy and astringent. Here are some general instructions –
- As a thumb rule, use two to four grams of tea (depending on the type of tea being used), or one tea bag, per cup.
- Boil water. Then let it stand for about three minutes before pouring into the teapot, over the tea bag/tea leaves.
- Do not let it steep for more than three minutes. Allow the decoction to cool slightly before drinking.
- Scientists have discovered that mixing green tea with other substances, such as citrus juices, vitamin C and even soy milk and rice milk, increases the amount of the antioxidants that can be absorbed by the body.
- Tea originated over 4000 years ago in China. Although historians are unsure about exactly when the beverage was first brewed, there are many myths and stories about its origins. One Chinese legend goes that a legendary Chinese healer, Sheng Nong was boiling water under a tea tree in 2737 BC. A couple of tea leaves fell into Sheng's pot of boiling water. That was when tea was brewed for the first time. When he drank it, he discovered its miraculous powers and tea found its place in his list of medicinal herbs.
- Another legend speaks of how Green Tea became the drink of choice of the Chinese Kings. The story goes that Emperor Chien Lung of the Ching Dynasty (1736 to 1796) used to travel incognito to see how his people lived. His family only drank black tea, and so did he. In a tea plantation, he was offered a cup of Green Tea. He sipped it and commented, “too bland. Tasteless!” and continued his journey on horseback. Half an hour later, the emperor turned to his ministers and said, "good tea." For he realized that the pleasure of drinking Green Tea actually comes after drinking it, as it has a very palatable aftertaste. From then on, Green Tea became the beverage of choice for the royal family and a special misty hillside in Zhejiang Province was designated as the Imperial Tea Plantation.
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