Green tea is made from the two leaves and a bud of the Camellia sinensis plant that are typically steamed or pan-fried. There are two varieties of the Camellia sinensis tea plant.
– Camellia sinensis sinensis: This has a smaller-leafed variety (in China) that is often used to make white and green teas. It grows in sunny regions with cooler, drier climates. It has a high tolerance for cold and thrives in mountainous regions.
– Camellia sinensis assamica: This has a larger-leafed variety, first found in India that is typically used to make black teas. It strongly grows in warm and moist climates, especially in sub-tropical forests.
Green tea has been proven to contain a nutrients that have powerful effects on the body such as B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, potassium, folate (naturally occurring folic acid), caffeine and other antioxidants, notably catechins.
Although there are different types of green tea which have been grown and produced all over the world today, Green tea is considered to have origin from China. It is the healthiest drink on the planet. According to One popular legend, tea was discovered as a beverage around 2737 BC by Shennong – Emporor of China (inventor of Chinese medicine) when fresh tea leaves of a tea tree fell into his boiled water cup. Buddhists in the 500s BC and subsequent centuries developed their habit of tea drinking for physical refreshment, aid meditation or as a substitute for alcohol into a spiritual and social practice across China. Green tea has been also used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat many health issues from headaches to depression.
Green tea was first introduced in Japan in the Nara period (710-794) when numerous Japanese Buddhist monks returned to Japan from China with tea plant seeds and bushes. Green tea has been popularized in Japan since 1190 by Eisai – a young monk who planted tea seeds from China on temple land and popularized the way of drinking tea as a meditation ritual within community of Buddhist monks. Lastly, it was spread throughout the rest of Japan because of its healthy benefits.
10 Healthy Benefits of Green Tea
Green Tea contains powerful antioxidants like flavonoids and catechins which can reduce the formation of free radicals known as key reason of aging and all sorts of diseases and prevent molecules and cells from damage. One of another powerful antioxidant of green tea is Epigallocatechin Gallate which was proven to treat various diseases and that is why green tea has powerful medicinal properties. Besides, Green tea also contains a few minerals that are good for health.
Improve Brain Function
Caffeine- stimulant is the key active ingredient of green tea which keeps you awake and makes you smarter. Caffeine has been studied as improvements in many aspects of brain function such as vigilance, improved mood, reaction time and memory. For example, people who drink much more green tea often have stronger activity in the working-memory area of their brains.
Moreover, green tea doesn’t only contain caffeine it also includes the amino acid L-theanine which has anti-anxiety effects. It also raises dopamine and enhances production of alpha waves in the brain. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine particularly improves the brain function.
However, green tea doesn’t have caffeine as much as coffee. Therefore, you have more stable energy and are much more productive when drinking tea than drinking coffee.
Improve Physical Performance/ Lose weight
Green tea is shown to be a fat burning supplement because it helps increase fat burning and enhances the metabolic rate that means it can help you lose weight.
In addition to improvement brain function, caffeine has been proven to improve physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues and making them be used as energy. It is specifically effective at lowering the abdominal fat to keep your body fit.
Lower Risk of Various Types of Cancer
Green tea is a great source of powerful antioxidants which have ability to protect body from oxidative damage which contributes to the development of cancer. Besides, it is also known to support healthy cells in all periods of growth. Many other studies showed that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of getting cancer or even help destroy cancer cells. But this research is still at early stages.
It is important to remember not to put milk in your tea, because this can reduce the antioxidant value of your green tea.
Green tea drinkers often have lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease that means it can help you live longer.
Protect Brain in Old Age, Reducing Risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
Green tea not only improves your brain function, but it can also protect your brain in old age. The bioactive compounds in green tea called Catechin compounds which have many protective effects on neurons and can lower the risk of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – two most popular neurodegenerative disorders.
Kills Bacteria for Dental Health Improvements and Lowers Risk of Infection
Streptococcus mutans is a harmful bacteria in your mouth that causes plaque formation and leads to cavities and tooth decay.
Catechin compounds in green tea also have other biological effects. They can kill bacteria and inhibit the growth of streptococcus mutans that helps improve dental health, lower risk of caries and reduce bad breath as well as reduce the risk of infections.
Lower the Risk of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes is a popular disease in the past few decades. It is caused when people have elevated blood sugar levels without an ability to produce insulin.
By slowing the rise of blood sugar and regulating glucose levels after eating, green tea is shown to have ability to keep blood sugar stable and reduce blood sugar levels as well as improve insulin sensitivity. One study in Japan found that green tea drinkers had lower risk of type II diabetes.
Thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, Green tea especially powdered green tea can also help reduce wrinkles and the signs of aging. Green tea is demonstrated that it applied topically can reduce sun damage. Especially, many women and girls have used powdered green tea as mask for beautiful facial skin.
Green tea is a perfect substitute for coffee which produces a calming effect. Theanine- an amino acid is naturally found in tea leaves which can provide a relaxing and tranquilizing effect. However, if you want to make you feel less stressed, you should drink 6 cups of it.
Prevent Heart disease
Green tea also enhances the antioxidant capability of the blood to prevent the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is a reason causing heart disease. Additionally, green tea is thought work on the lining of blood vessels to keep them stay relaxed and have better ability to withstand changes of blood pressure. It may protect against the clot formation. All of these help you to have healthier heart.
How to brew green tea?
Each type of green tea has different brewing temperature and steeping time. Here are some general tips to brew tea that you should keep in mind:
- Use pure, fresh filtered water for boil water to brew tea.
- Normally, green teas are brewed in boil water at around 160 to 180 degrees. If you don’t have a temperature control kettle, let your boiling water to rest before pouring it into your green tea leaves in order to avoid releasing more bitterness or astringency more quickly.
- Cover to keep all the heat in the vessel.
- Wait for 2-3 minutes to enjoy your cup of tea
- Most high-quality green teas can be re-steeped many times.
Different types of green tea
As I mentioned above, green teas are all made from the tea plant Camellia sinensis. However, basing on differing locations where the tea is grown on, the differing climate in these locations and slight changes in growing way, green teas are divided into different types. Let find the information about green teas from China and Japan- two main origins of green tea.
Green Teas from China
It is one of the most common types of Chinese green teas. The leaves of this type are rolled into the shape of tiny pellets like gunpowder. These pellets open up in their brewing process. This green tea tastes lightly smoky and bold. Especially, Gunpowder green has higher caffeine level than other types of green teas and that why athletes commonly use it to improve endurance within 3-6 hours.
It is one of the most famous China’s green teas, originating from Zhejiang province. This tea is called as Dragonwell Green Tea in the US. After being processed, the leaves have flat shape and a jade color. Dragonwell green tea often has a sweet and rounded flavor.
Pi Lo Chun (Green Snail Spring):
It is very rare and unique Chinese Green Tea. In the Zhejian Province, this tea is grown among apricot, plum and peach trees to allow the tea leaves to get the flavor from the fruit blossoms of these trees. This tea is made from the softest buds chosen under carefully controlled conditions in the spring. That is why there is only a limited amount of this available.
Snowy Mountain Jian:
This tea comes from the mountainous region in the Yunnan Province of China. The leaves of this tea are quite long with a hint of silver tip that means this tea has been plucked selectively. Although it is a green tea, it has brief ferment which gives the dry leaves a dark hue with a more full body flavor somewhat similar to black teas. Its pungent flavor makes it suit to someone who likes black tea drinker don’t want to give up too much strength.
Hyson Lucky Dragon
This is a premium green tea. Its leaves have a greenish-yellow color. Traditionally, hyson insinuated old to medium leaves which were produced in a rolled long twisted shaped. And if you see the term “young” added to the nomenclature that is to distinguish the tea was made from young leaves and had a better tasting and better quality. Generally, this green tea has more full-body taste than other types.
Kai Hua Long Ding
This is one of the famous teas in Zhejiang Province. Kai Hua Long Ding is made from good quality young tea leaves and buds. The leaves of this tea are rather thick but very short. With the soothing and refreshing flavor, it is suitable to drink throughout the day
Tian Mu Qing Ding
This tea is grown in the bamboo forests on Tian Mu Mountains of Zhejiang province. It is one of China’s famous teas. Its leaves are fine and delicate with a very rich, fresh-green color. The taste is naturally sweet which provides green tea drinkers with satisfying and plenty of mouth feels in the finish.
Xin Yang Mao Jian
This is at the list of China’s Ten Famous teas for its pleasant aroma and refreshing taste. The finest and most tender tea leaves are carefully selected from tea plants growing in the high mountain area of Xin Yang of Henan Province.
It is also called as Monkey Tea. Hou Kui has won many awards. This tea comes from the Anhui Province. It is grown among orchids. Therefore, this tea has orchid flavor taste as a result of absorbing the flavor of surrounding orchids.
Green Teas from Japan
This tea is considered as the best of Japanese green teas. The leaves are pointed and flat that have a light fragrance and smooth taste. Two weeks before harvesting, Gyokuro bushes are covered in shade which helps the leaves retain chlorophyll and concentrate both the nutrients and green tea taste.
This is the traditional steamed Japanese green tea. Steaming- quickly halting natural tea oxidation which helps keep tea’s fresh character and vivid green color. Sencha offers refreshing energy with deep umami and a crisp, juicy-sweet flavor, and refreshing finish.
This green tea type is harvested very late in the season. The leaves used to make Bancha are large and rather hard than leaves for Sencha. Therefore, it has weaker flavor than others.
It is a Japanese powdered green tea. For about three weeks before harvest, the green tea plants for matcha are moved into shade, and the veins and stems are removed in processing. This tea is often used in the Tea Ceremony of Japanese. Additionally, this type of green tea has been also used to dye and flavor foods such as soba and mochi noodles, green tea ice cream, and many wagashi.
Hōjicha is often made from tea plants in the last harvest of the season. Besides, a variety of Houjicha is made from sencha, and Kukicha. Especially, this tea is made from the twigs rather than the leaves of the tea plant. The roasting process which is used to make Hōjicha also reduces the level of caffeine in the tea. That is why this is preferred for children and the elderly with the mildness.
Kukicha is a rounded, warm and playful green tea of Japanese. It is a blend of tea leaf stems and tea leaves. This tea has unusual taste of chestnut thanks to the twigs used to make this tea. And this tea is very low in astringency.
This tea is also called as “popcorn tea”. It is because this is a blend of pan fired sencha tea and whole roasted grains of brown rice, some of which popped. Originally, this tea was drunk by poor Japanese who didn’t have enough tea leaves and they used the rice as filler for their tea. However, nowadays, this is more and more preferred because of its sweet, roasted rice flavor.
Green tea processing
As I have mentioned above, Green tea is made from the top two leaves and buds of Camellia Sinensis plant which is grown in acid soils with a desirable pH value about 5.8-5.4 or less because tea plants don’t grow in alkaline soils.
- After the tea leaves are harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant, wither tea leaves by spreading them on racks of bamboo to dry under the sun or using warm air to reduce the water content. But make sure to move them around for uniform drying. Then get rid of yellow leaves and debris.
- The next step is slightly drying tea leaves to prevent too much oxidation from occurring that could turn the green leaves into brown and change their fresh-picked flavor. The tea leaves must be stirred continuously to be evenly dried. While in Japan, instead of drying, tea leaves are often steamed. They are cleaned before steaming. Each type of tea has different steaming time. For example, tea is steamed for 30-90 seconds called Sencha tea. Another type is Fukamushi steamed for 90-150 seconds. Steaming is carried out in a bamboo tray over water or by machine. After steaming, using machine to cool them. This step is very important for quality. Go hand in hand with getting the proper color, taste and smell of Green Tea, it also helps release the aroma, soft the leaves to enhance toughness for making the next step rolling easier.
- The purpose of Rolling is to create the shape tight that helps make the next step drying easier. This step also aims to destroy the leaf tissue to offer better quality for easier brewing out the tea liquor.
- After the final rolling step, green tea is dried to create many new flavor compounds for tea products as well as improve its appearance and reduce the water content again to have best storage.
- After all above processing steps, you can have a cup of green, fragrant and sweet light taste liquor of tea. It is very safe and good for your health.
The quality of green tea product firstly depends on using quality tea leaves including color, aroma. Beside, temperature during rolling, drying, and storage process is very important too.
Buy and store green tea
If you can’t make green tea by yourself, buying tea is the fastest way to satisfy your drinking tea habit. However, to make sure you are getting the best green tea product, buy tea from a reliable company which can show you how and when it was processed and packaged. More importantly, you should ask the sale to give you directions on how to brew that particular variety of tea. Besides, if you’re looking for green tea with low caffeine content, make sure to read the packaging carefully for the specific caffeine information of the tea you are buying.
Green tea is best consumed within only six months to a year after purchasing and opening the pack. You should also store your green tea in a dark, cool place, away from light, oxygen or moisture because green tea is easily oxidized.
With huge healthy benefits which have never known before as well as many different types of green tea for you to have more options, i make sure that you want to have a change in your habit. what can be better than just a cup of tea for relaxing as well as for better health