Most of us wake up in the morning craving for that perfect cup of tea that can revitalize us and keep us energized throughout the day.
Drinking some form of beverage first thing in the morning is a common practice across cultures all over the world. There is an interesting story behind the origin of this beverage. It is said that tea was accidentally discovered in China when a few leaves of a certain plant fell into a pot of boiling water.
And the concoction that resulted in tasted exceedingly good and this resulted in the birth of the world’s most favorite drink.
Though drinking tea is a common practice around the world, health-conscious individuals in recent times have started looking at other healthier options as it is a matter of everyday consumption.
Green tea is a kind of tea that is made from the leaves of the plant Camellia Sinensis. Camellia Sinesis is a plant that generally grows in tropical and sub-tropical climates.
The special way in which Green tea is different from other kinds of tea is its minimal oxidation during processing.
Many high-quality tea plantations are situated at an elevated level of at least 5000 feet above sea-level. Tea plantations are common in various parts of India, including Darjeeling and Munnar.
One of the major criteria for the classification of tea plants is the size of their leaves. There are three primary categories.
The largest leaves mark the Assam type, the Chinese type is characterized by the smallestleaves while its Cambodian counterpart falls into those belonging to the intermediate size.
Teas can be classified into different types based on the way the leaves are processed. Named after various colours, the major ones are white, yellow, green, oolong, black (sometimes called red) and post-fermented tea.
Post-fermented tea is also well-known for its medicinal and healing properties. Different types of tea are produced by means of controlling the degree of the oxidation process.
Green tea, mostly consumed in China and India have been around for centuries, thanks to their associated health benefits, but it has been gaining more popularity in the recent years. Though tea is the most-consumed beverage in the world, only twenty percent of it is that of green tea.
One of the reasons why it is the healthiest of the teas available is because of the very reason that it is brewed from un-oxidized leaves.
Oxidation refers to a chemical process that contributes to the browning of tea leaves. It is also responsible for the flavour and aroma compounds in tea. As a result, it contains the highest amount of antioxidants, which is a key to good health.
The effect of oxidation is usually observed in common fruits and vegetables. When freshly cut fruits and vegetables are exposed to air, they form a layer of brown along the exposed parts.
Talking about its medicinal properties, Green Tea was used in China and India to control bleeding, to heal wounds and aid in the process of digestion.
Consumption of tea was also related to the maintenance and improvement of disorders related to mental health. Studies also suggest that regular consumers of green tea are less prone to cardiac diseases and certain types of cancer.
Flavonoids are a group of naturally-produced substances that are present in most products that are made from plants and have immense health benefits.
A cup of green tea is also set to contain a higher level of Flavonoids than other kinds of teas. The amount of flavonoids is also higher than other food items like fruits, vegetables or wine.
How is Green Tea Produced?
Strictly speaking, no kind of tea can be claimed to be completely un-oxidized because tea leaves start to oxidize and react to the changes in the environment the moment they are plucked from the tea plants.
The tea leaves start to slightly wither away. The most commonly-practiced method of producing green tea is by heating the leaves right after they are plucked from the plants.
They are done in temperature-controlled rooms and these are labour-intensive processes. These are usually done over a heated wok, in a bamboo basket heated by charcoal or steam, or in an oven.
Once heated, the green colour of the leaves is preserved. In very rare cases, green tea is also produced by drying the leaves in the sun.
In these instances, oxidation is controlled not by controlling temperature but by extracting water from them. These kinds of green teas are more beneficial to the health than the former ones.
Now that you have learnt about the different types of Green tea and how Green tea is made, it is time we tell you about the different benefits of consuming tea as a regular part of your diet.
Know the benefits of drinking green tea:
#1 Green Tea is Calorie-Free
Brewed green tea when consumed without sugar contains zero calories!
Compared to other kinds of teas, green tea also contains a very small amount of caffeine. This is reason enough for you to switch to green tea from your regular black tea.
Studies have also shown that green tea releases natural chemicals called Polyphenols which have been proven to be highly effectively in getting rid of free radicals.
Left in the body, free radicals interact with the antioxidants in the body and this could result in substantial harm to the body.
#2 It is a Healthier Alternative
The high amounts of flavonoids and antioxidants present in green tea help the body in alleviating the level of harmful toxins in the body. They also protect cells and molecules in the body from damage.
Antioxidants also are more effective when green tea is consumed as it is, without the addition of any milk. They keep free radicals at bay. Free radicals play a major role in aging and contribute to many diseases.
Green tea also produces another compound called Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) which has strong medicinal properties. Green tea also provides one with the required amount of minerals that are needed for the body’s upkeep.
A word of caution: choose a good brand of green tea as many cheap brands contain unhealthy levels of fluoride in them.
#3 Green Tea Helps You Lose Weight
Green tea happens to be on the recommended list of every weight-consciousness individual.
Green tea has been proven to boost fat burning and increase metabolic rate in the body. Not only does this help in weight reduction, but it also makes one feel active overall.
#5 Lowers Your Risk of Cancer
The presence of antioxidants in green tea has also shown to reduce the risk of various types of cancer. Cancer is a result of uncontrolled growth of cells.
Cancerous cells multiply very quickly and spread at uninhibited levels. Numerous studies have shown that an increase in the amount of antioxidants in the body helps one prevent cancers of the breast, prostate glands and colorectal cancer.
There has also been considerable evidence in research that shows that countries where green tea is consumed on a regular basis have lower number of people being identified with cancer.
This could also be a result of adherence to an alternatively healthy lifestyle.
Cancer research also proves that green tea slows down the growth of cancerous tumours.
#6 Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Regular consumption of Green tea has shown that it protects the brain in old age from running into the risks of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Alzheimer’s is a disorder of brain functioning and memory power that usually affects aging people. It has been found to be one of the leading causes of dementia. Parkinson’s disease is an equally-debilitating disease which affects the nerves.
#7 Saves You a Visit to the Dentist
Catechins, a type of antioxidants found in green tea has been proven to kill bacteria. It also results in lowering the risk of catching virus infections like Influenza.
Consumption of green tea has also been associated with reduced dental concerns. Tooth decay, which is one of the most persistent dental problems which is caused by the accumulation of plaque on the teeth, is taken care off by the very same catechins.
The flavors produced by the flavonoids also help in alleviating the embarrassing, but often-found problem of bad breath.
#8 Keeps your Glucose Levels in Check
Type II diabetes is a worrisome disease that has steadily risen over the past few decades. It afflicts millions of people worldwide.
Either a high amount of insulin is produced, or the body doesn’t have the ability to produce enough insulin to breakdown glucose.
Green tea is beneficial to people diagnosed with Type II Diabetes where the body does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin.
Consumption of green tea over a period of time helps improve insulin insensitivity in patients. Not only this, green tea comes with the added advantage of lowering the risk of developing Diabetes in the long term.
#9 Green Tea is Heart-Healthy
Modern life comes with increasing levels of non-activity and exercise which put majority of the people at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Green tea helps in lowering the risk of heart disease using producing anti-oxidants which protect the LDL particles from oxidation. High oxidation of the LDL particles leads to the development of LDL or Bad Cholesterol.
#10 Natural Way of Weight Loss
Obesity is one of the significant health risks plaguing the lives of millions of people worldwide. Not only is it aesthetically disturbing to the individual, it is also a major health concern.
Being obese multiplies the degree of risk an individual can have for a particular disease. Since green tea boosts the rate of metabolism, it could lead you to lose a few of those extra pounds that you have had.
It also leads to a reduction in body fat, predominantly in the abdominal region. Not only does it help one lose weight, consumption of green tea also ensures that one does not put on weight.
#11 Increases Your Life-Span
Who among us wouldn’t want to live a hearty, long life?
All of us, definitely. Green tea is helpful in terms of lowering the risk of you developing a whole host of diseases, thus increasing your longevity.
A recent study shows that those people who consumed five or more cups of green tea in a day were at a lower risk of dying prematurely as opposed to those that did not consume any green tea.
#12 Green Tea Makes You Smarter!
Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which increases the firing of neurons in the brains and helps increase the concentration of other neurotransmitters.
Studies have also shown that caffeine leads to improvement of brain function, stabilizes mood, decreases reaction time and increases memory power.
With increased brain function, people report to be productive during and after consumption of green tea.
While we read about the various benefits that consumption of green tea has, one has to be careful as there are a few risks attached to it. People who are on medication and take anticoagulants as part of their drug list should refrain from having green tea.
When taken with drugs which are known to be stimulants, green tea comes with the possibility of increased blood pressure.
Pregnant women and breastfeeding women should also be careful prior to the consumption of green tea and they must always consult a physician before doing so.
How to Brew a Perfect Cup of Green tea.
To brew the right cup of green tea goodness, boil water for a little more than two minutes.
Keep a tea cup ready with a tea bag in place. Green tea is available in the form of tea bags or tea powder, though tea bags are more common and popular.
As the water comes to a boil, pour the hot water into the cup, seeing to it that the tea bag is completely immersed in the water. Let the tea bag soak for a couple of minutes and infuse all its natural goodness into the boiling water.
Remove the tea bag from the cup before consuming it and refrain from soaking it in water for too long as it may start tasting bitter. Green tea is best consumed without any additives.
But for those who like a little extra zing in their tea, add a spoonful of honey, sugar or jaggery or a dash of lemon juice to spice up your green tea!