Green tea, as with black and white tea, is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. The key differences lie in the way the leaves are processed and the amount of oxidation the leaves are allowed to undergo.
Oxidation Makes Green Tea
Unlike white tea (zero oxidation), which is basically picked, withered and then dried or black tea (fully oxidized), producers of green tea lightly oxidize the leaves by cooking them in either a wok or with steam before allowing them to dry. This accelerated method of oxidation intensifies while conserving the green color – hence the name, “green tea”.
Green Tea: A Very Brief History
For hundreds of years, green tea has been cultivated and consumed throughout most of Asia. Its origins however, date back over 4,000 years when it was first brewed during the Shong Dynasty of China.
Ancient Chinese writings document the pleasantries of drinking tea, techniques for cultivation, as well the uses of green tea as medicine and its positive effects on the five vital organs. For centuries the people of Asia have been using green tea as a stimulant to heal wounds, aid digestion, cure blotchiness, prevent fatigue, improve brain function, control blood sugar, and much more!
Chinese or Japanese Green Tea?
Today, for the most part, when one buys green tea, they’re are most likely buying either a Chinese or Japanese variety. Green tea was first brought to Japan by a Japanese Zen Buddhist almost 1,000 years ago and now, Japan is the second largest producer of green tea in the world (China is largest).
Green tea is so popular in Japan, it is commonly referred to as “Japanese tea”. In general, the Japanese tend to steam the tea leaves before drying them, this method of cooking or “firing” gives Japanese green tea its vivid light green color and grassier taste. In comparison, the Chinese typically cook the leaves in a wok and as a result, Chinese green teas tend to be darker in color and take on a toastier flavor with more body.
Matcha: The Super Green Tea
While the benefits of green tea are similar between varieties in both China and Japan, it is worth mentioning that Matcha, a Japanese style of green tea, has been found to contain substantially greater amounts of the health components found in green tea, including antioxidants. According to research, this is most likely due to the fact that the process of making matcha involves pulverizing the leaves into a powder and, therefore, increasing the intake of actual tea leaves when steeped in water.
Why Green Tea is Good For You
Green tea’s health benefits are largely attributed to its high concentration of powerful catechins and its derivatives. These catechins are rapidly and extensively metabolized, highlighting their antioxidant and enzymic activity in action. Without getting too into details on lab results and clinical trials, here are some of the benefits revealed in studies by doctors, nutritionists, and universities:
- Cell health – green tea catechins and polyphenols (antioxidants) are effective scavengers of cancer-causing free radicals.
- Heart health – green tea has shown to improve blood flow, lower cholesterol, lower high blood pressure and thus keep you heart healthy. Similarly, these benefits also help against diabetes.
- Brain health – improved circulation is also good for the brain. Additionally, green tea has been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s.
- Waist health – loose the weight and keep it off as green tea can increase or even change your metabolism allowing for the increased burning of fat.
- Relax – an amino acid found in green tea called theanine can have a calming effect and help combat stress.
“It’s the healthiest thing I can think of to drink,” says Christopher Ochner, PhD and scientist in nutrition at Icahn School of Medicine. “Green tea is beyond a super food.”
Green Tea At The Elephant Room
Now that you know a bit more about green tea, stop by The Elephant Room and order yourself a cup or pot. You’ll feel better for it and we have a number of green teas to choose from:
- Green Pomegranate
- Jasmine Pearls
- Liquid Jade
- Green Kukicha
- Kukicha Twig Tea
- Matcha Grade A
- Brewed Awakening
See you soon!