Green Tea Health Benefits: explored
Anyone with an interest in tea will have heard an awful lot about green tea health benefits over the past few years. This is not just because to buy green tea is to do your health a favour but enjoying it introduces you to a whole new tea drinking pleasure. The tastes vary from floral, through herbaceous to vegetal and nutty. They can be smooth through to having brisk astringency. They should all be well balanced without bitterness. To create such a diversity in tastes the appearance of these teas can be equally diverse, from tiny balls of Chinese Gunpowder and open leaf styles of Tian Mu Quing Ding to blade-like vivid green leaves of Japanese Bancha and Sencha. Green tea has about half the caffeine of black tea which makes it popular with those who wish to drink tea late without interrupting their sleep and increasingly by those who simply enjoy the diverse aromas and tastes of green tea. See the Japanese Green Teas section of our Tea Store.
Where is green tea produced?
There is a huge variety of green tea and China is justifiably the most famous producer. Several provinces produce it but other countries such as Japan have a huge green tea drinking culture. In fact they rarely drink black tea being a very foreign innovation to them. In Japan their green tea noted for its vegetal character, is drunk daily but on special occasions it might be matcha, sencha being more of an everyday beverage. Bancha is a coarse grade appreciated by many.
Green tea in China is herbaceous and fresh tasting. It is grown in Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian and Yunnan provinces amongst others and was originally exported to the West until it was discovered that oxidising the leaf prolonged the freshness of tea, specially important when it was to be conveyed half way around the world on long sea voyages to Europe. More people now appreciated the characteristics of green tea, having a fresh, herbaceous taste. Green tea from Darjeeling is relatively new but some superb examples such as Badamtam are made using Chinese methods of production but retaining the slightly astringent, muscatel character for which Darjeeling teas are renown. Again from India, Assam now produces some green tea using its native Camellia assamica tea variety. This is highly regarded for its more robust malty character which is discernable in the best of their green assam. Green tea is rarely grown in Kenya, the source of much of the UK’s mass market teas, but a little is produced using orthodox, rather than CTC, techniques and an even smaller proportion is green. We stock a lovely Rift Valley green tea which has received rave reviews.
How do you ensure a good cup of green tea?
If it is brewed correctly, by which we mean with fresh boiled water that is not too hot nor infused too long, green tea does not have the bitterness that unfortunately too many people have experienced. Green tea should be kept in an airtight container away from heat, light and moisture. As it is more perishable than black tea green tea should be used within six months to best appreciate its character and to avoid staleness.
So what about this much vaunted health benefits of drinking green tea?
Like fruit and vegetables tea contains antioxidants but it is the polyphenol antioxidants that tea possesses which is of particular interest. Green tea contains a higher proportion of polyphenols than black tea as the tea is not oxidised. This means that once the tea is rolled, which enables the juices of the leaf to be exposed on the surface of the leaf, the leaf is then ‘fired’ either by steaming, roasting or pan-frying. This stops any oxidation of these juices in the air. These polyphenols help the body combat the ageing effect of free radicals – toxic molecules that damage healthy cells causing diseases such as cancers. One group or polyphenol catechin is known as EGCG. It has been discovered that green tea contains the highest proportion of EGCG of any food or drink and so can be especially valuable as a healthy part of our diet.
In addition, it now recognised that the high catechin content of green tea benefits the cardio-vascular system, reducing the chance of clotting in the arteries and hence strokes by breaking down cholesterol. Furthermore green tea has been demonstrated to fight against viruses and bacterial infection.
Not only for the benefits to your health but for the wonderful drinking experience try some green tea and you will soon discover why so many people drink no other. Over half the tea-drinking world can’t be wrong!
Do feel free to comment on our blog with your own experiences of drinking green tea and whether you do indeed prefer to buy it over any other type of tea. You will find many reviews from customers on the individual green teas we stock featured on our catalogue pages.
See the Green Teas section of our Tea Store.