Tea cultivation can be traced back to China and India centuries ago. Tea is actually the second most widely consumed drink all over the world after water and millions of people enjoy drinking tea not only for its taste but also for its touted health benefits. Tea comes in different varieties, specifically black, green, and oolong, the main difference being the way the leaves are processed. Among the three varieties, green tea is said to contain the highest amount of antioxidants, making it the most popular type of tea used in drinks and even supplements.
How to Prepare Green Tea
All three varieties of tea are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Plants that grow in high altitudes make more flavorful tea as the leaves tend to mature at a slower rate. It takes a minimum of 2 ½ years to a maximum of 5 years before the leaves of a new tea plant can be picked for commercial production. The leaves undergo different processes which affect the characteristics of the different tea variety.
Green tea is the least processed of the three varieties and is made from unfermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis. Harvested leaves are steamed only long enough to keep the leaves soft and prevent the color from changing. The leaves are then rolled out and dried until crisp. The resulting tea has a faint astringent taste similar to the flavor of fresh leaves. Knowing the right way on how to prepare green tea is crucial to keep its health benefits.
Green Tea and Antioxidants
Due to the limited processing green tea undergoes, it is believed to contain the highest concentration of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect cells in the body against free radical damage and also play a role in the prevention of cancer. Free radicals are compounds found in the body that damage cell DNA, cause cellular changes, and can lead to cell death. Studies show the major role of free radicals in heart disease, cancer, and even aging.
Catechin is a type of polyphenol present in green tea and is believed to be responsible for many of its health benefitsn There are actually size different types of catechins present in green tea but based on studies, EGCG and ECG are the two most potent catechins that are also found in large amounts in tea leaves.
Green Tea Benefits
Extensive studies have been conducted to identify the exact health benefits of green tea. Although there are no conclusive studies to establish the benefits of drinking green tea to man, there are numerous studies suggesting the value of green tea in preventing and treating several health conditions including high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, diabetes, dementia, and certain types of cancer.
Green tea may also be of benefit in weight loss as studies show that it can burn fat and boost metabolism. It can also be of value in the prevention of dental caries and in the relief of the symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some studies also suggest that green tea can be used for treating genital warts and for preventing flu symptoms.
The Real Benefit of Green Tea
Although studies about green tea benefits do not give clear answers to whether or not it can really prevent and treat different medical conditions and help with weight loss, it is clear that green tea’s antioxidant properties can have positive effects on one’s health. Antioxidants are considered the body’s protection from free radicals and can help reduce the incidence of stroke, heart attack, and cancer.