Old Chinese Proverb
One cup does all disorders cure
With two your troubles will be fewer
Three to the bones more vigor give
With four forever you will live
As young as on your day of birth,
A true immemorial on the earth.
What is this magic elixir in the chinese proverb? Green tea!
Although there are many kinds of tea, the most common are black and green. Both kinds come from the Camellia sinensis plant but black tea leaves are oxidized or fermented leaves while green tea leaves are not. Despite the simplicity of brewing tea (just tea leaves and hot water), the chemical composition of tea is quite complex. Green tea contains many anti-oxidant compounds called catechins or polyphenols, the best of which is ECGC (epigallocatechin gallate).
Recent scientific studies have confirmed the multitude of health benefits green tea provides.
- Both animal and clinical studies indicate that lower rates of cancer occur when green tea is regularly consumed. This confirms the lower rates seen in places, such as Japan, where green tea is a staple.
- Animal studies show that green tea helps prevents development of tumors in these types of cancer: skin, breast, lung, esophageal, and colorectal.
- When consumed during chemotherapy, green tea increases the effectiveness of some drug treatments, such as Tamoxifen and Herceptin (used for breast cancer).
- Regular consumption of green tea can lower the risk of heart attacks and can lower cholesterol.
- For those with metabolic issues, such as diabetes and obesity, green tea can block cholesterol absorption and improve glucose regulation. Even for those without issues, green tea may boost metabolism and help burn fat.
- Green tea may protect you against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also been associated with increased bone density and reduced risk of hip fracture.
How to choose a green tea
- Look for loose organic green tea. The leaves should be a dark rich green.
- The catechin/polyphenol content of tea varies depending on the tea plant, soil, methods of processing, storage, and age. Unfortunately, simply because the label says “green tea” does not necessarily mean it contains large amount ECGC. In general, Japanese green teas contained far more ECGC than Chinese.
- If properly stored, tea stays fresh for 6 months (when vacuum-packed) and 2 -3 months after it is opened.
How to make green tea
- Green tea lovers heat water to 170 – 180 degrees, then steep the tea for a short period of time.
- Researchers suggest bringing the water to a boil, then steeping 8-10 minutes to increase the polyphenols in the tea. This may produce more bitter-tasting tea.
How to drink green tea
- Drink the tea when it is freshly brewed for maximum health benefits. With each hour that passes, the health potential decreases, including when consumed as iced tea.
- Drink 3 – 5 cups a day as part of a healthy diet.
- Learn the Japanese tea ceremony Cha-No-Yu which means “hot water tea” which brings harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility to all.