Green tea is widely known as a refreshing drink and one of the healthiest beverages on earth. If you drink green tea regularly, you may have noticed an improvement in your overall wellness. And if you don't, you may wonder about the health claims of this popular drink.
This guide dives into how green tea consumption can improve health. It also explores the basics of green tea, how it is produced, and the top green tea varieties. It will also give you some side effects to watch out for when drinking green tea.
Green Tea: The Basics
Green tea comes from the young leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant, which is also the source of black tea, oolong tea, white tea, and pu-erh tea. Teas from the Camellia sinensis plant are known as true teas. All other types of teas made from the roots, the stems, the flowers, and the leaves of other plants are known as herbal teas.
Green tea is usually pale green or light yellow. Longjing Chinese green has a jade color, and matcha is the only green tea with a vibrant, rich green color. These super healthy teas can taste earthy or vegetal, roasted, or slightly sweet, depending on how they are processed and where they originate from. Generally, green teas have a milder flavor than black tea. As always, loose-leaf tea is the highest quality tea.
How Green Tea is Processed
Manufacturers harvest green tea leaves by hand. They allow the leaves to dry slightly in sunlight before completely drying them through various methods. During the process, the tea makers roll the leaves into pearls or long twig shapes, depending on the variety of the tea.
Green Tea Variations
The two main types of green tea are classified by whether they are from Japan or China. Both countries have various kinds of green tea, each with different flavors. Although all green teas have similar health benefits, the manufacturing process differs, resulting in different nuances in taste.
Let's explore the variations in tea flavors and processing in the two countries and take a closer look at the green teas from each country.
Japanese Green Tea
Japanese tea manufacturers steam the green tea leaves instead of roasting or pan-firing them. Some green teas are shade grown for the final weeks before the harvest to preserve the chlorophyll that gives the tea its vibrant green color and additional health benefits.
Japanese green teas are rich in amino acids, which give the teas an umami flavor. The most popular Japanese green teas are matcha, sencha, and genmaicha. Let's explore these tasty teas.
Matcha green tea is popular with tea drinkers as one of the healthiest teas with the most potential health benefits. It is made when manufacturers grind green tea leaves into a fine powder. The leaves are harvested from the same plant as traditional green tea; the process is just slightly different.
When you drink a cup of premium quality matcha, you can expect a fresh and earthy flavor with a delicious natural creaminess and a hint of umami. Try the Firebelly ceremonial-grade matcha for the best experience of this incredibly healthy green tea.
Tea farmers cultivate this popular Japanese green tea in the Shizuoka province of Japan. Sencha leaves are typically needle-shaped and have a nutty, slightly fruity flavor. This tea has several varieties, including gyukuro, chumushi, asamushi, uji sencha, and fukamushi.
Gyukuro, the most famous Japanese green tea, is a beautiful emerald green color with a balanced, rich flavor. You can get a delicious gyukuro blend here at Firebelly Tea.
Genmaicha tea is Japanese green tea leaves blended with roasted rice kernels. It creates a hearty and full-bodied, roasted flavor. If you want to decrease your coffee consumption, genmaicha is an excellent replacement.
The robust flavor in this cup of green tea will give you the satisfaction of drinking a cup of coffee but a reduced risk of getting caffeine jitters or other side effects. Try this delicious genmaicha blend. With a delightful spice blend and all the healthy goodness of green tea and matcha, it's like a warm hug in a cup!
Chinese Green Teas
China is the world's largest green tea producer. Manufacturers dry Chinese green teas through sun exposure, pan-firing, and roasting instead of steaming.
This gives the tea an earthy, toasted flavor different from Japanese green teas' umami flavor. Some of the most popular Chinese green teas are longing and gunpowder.
Also known as Dragonwell, Longjing is the most popular Chinese green tea variation and the most expensive! Manufacturers only harvest the tea leaves for Longjing tea once a year. The brewed tea has a beautiful jade green color, and the flavor is vegetal and nutty. This smooth tea also has a slight mint undertone, making it quite different from other green teas.
Manufacturers roll gunpowder green tea into small pellet shapes that look like gunpowder grains. Unlike most Chinese green teas, this type of tea is steamed and not roasted. It has a smoky flavor and a strong aroma.
What is Green Tea Good For?
Green tea has long been considered an ancient medicinal herb, but recent scientific evidence strongly backs this up. Here are a few of the many possible health benefits of green tea extracts.
Consuming Green Tea May Help Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases
One of the top health benefits of green tea is a reduced risk of heart disease. Green tea contains various healthy compounds, including antioxidants like catechins, tea polyphenols, and the amino acid L-theanine.
Antioxidants improve circulation and may help lower risk of blood clots and heart attacks. The catechins in green tea also help lower bad cholesterol levels associated with heart disease.
Tea polyphenols may help regulate blood sugar levels and lower high blood pressure.
L-theanine may help lower stress levels which lower the heart rate and may help lower high blood pressure. This may lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
In summary, green tea has incredible potential to lower risk of heart disease, and scientific research has proven it.
Daily Green Tea Consumption May Prevent Cancer
According to research, enjoying a cup of green tea a few times daily can help you prevent dreaded health problems like cardiovascular disease. But that's not all; it may even have cancer-fighting benefits. Research has revealed that green tea helps prevent the formation and development of cancerous tumors.
The antioxidants in the tea leaves help fight free radicals, which cause oxidative stress and various types of cancer. Although research is ongoing, Japan has officially recognized the value of green tea in combating cancer.
It's important to note that even though green tea may help lower cancer risk, it is not a cancer treatment.
Green Tea Extract May Speed Up Weight Loss
There's a reason why green tea supplements are famous in the weight loss industry. Green tea catechins can improve physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids, so you'll have increased energy available for your workouts, which can help with weight loss.
There's great news for those who struggle with weight loss because of a sluggish metabolism! Green tea extract speeds up your metabolic rate, which helps your body's fat-burning process. This enables you to lose weight quicker.
It's important to note that consuming too much caffeine can counteract the weight loss effects of green tea. Stick to less than 300 mg of caffeine daily for the best weight loss results.
Green Tea May Help Protect Brain Function
If you're looking for a brain function boost, you may have heard that increasing your caffeine intake could help. While caffeine affects cognitive ability, too much of it could have the opposite effect. It can cause jitters and other nasty side effects.
Green tea contains less caffeine and L-theanine, which has anti-anxiety effects. This works with caffeine to create focused energy, improve mood, boost concentration, enhance brain function, and improve memory.
Consuming green tea regularly may help protect the brain from neurological decline and may help prevent neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. It also improves spatial cognition and increases the brain's ability to process new information, even at advanced ages.
Green Tea May Improve Skin And Treat Skin Conditions
Green tea can improve skin elasticity, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and promote a youthful, glowing complexion. The natural antioxidants help prevent cell damage which helps prevent premature aging.
Additionally, green tea's anti-inflammatory properties can help soothe skin conditions, for example, eczema, acne, and rosacea.
Green Tea May Help Regulate Blood Sugar
Drinking green tea is excellent for the blood! The potent anti-inflammatory properties of green tea help reduce swelling in arteries, promoting blood circulation and lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Studies indicate thatt green tea helps to regulate blood sugar levels and can improve the body's insulin sensitivity. For those with diabetes, a few cups of green tea a day may help them to produce insulin more effectively.
What About The Caffeine Content of Green Tea?
If you're wondering if green tea has the same caffeine content as coffee, it doesn't. Both contain caffeine, but the amount can vary depending on various factors, and overall, green tea contains less caffeine.
A standard cup of brewed coffee contains around 95 mg of caffeine. However, this can range from 30 to 200 milligrams depending on various factors like the type of bean it's derived from, the brewing method, and the strength of the brew.
In comparison, a standard cup of green tea generally contains around 25 to 45 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the type of green tea and how you brew it. Matcha tends to have a slightly higher caffeine content than regular green tea.
Green tea is also packed with the amino acid called L-theanine, which slows caffeine absorption providing a longer-lasting energy boost and boosting brain function without the typical side effects of caffeine.
It's vital to note that these values are approximate and can vary. Additionally, caffeine sensitivity can differ among individuals, so caffeine affects different people in different ways.
Side Effects You Should Watch Out For When You Drink Green Tea
As with many other things in life, moderation is key. Drinking five or six cups of green tea daily should be safe if you're not sensitive to caffeine. If you are sensitive or you drink more than five or six cups of green tea every day, you may notice some unwanted side effects:
#1. Digestive problems
Because it contains tannins, green tea may increase stomach acid, which can cause digestive issues, acid reflux, and cramps. This generally only happens when you drink excessive amounts of green tea or brew green tea with extra hot water. To avoid this, use water between 150°F and 180°F and drink green tea with food instead of on an empty stomach.
Caffeine has a mild laxative effect. If you drink too much green tea, the caffeine in it can cause diarrhea. If you have IBS, it's best to avoid green tea altogether.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, any caffeinated beverage like green tea may give you a headache. If you've started drinking more green tea and notice increased headaches or migraines, note what you consumed before the headache. It may be because of caffeine intake!
#3. Difficulty sleeping
Because green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, it's an excellent energy booster! However, excessive amounts are not great for getting a good night's rest, especially if you drink it in the late afternoon or before bed. Since everyone is different, avoiding green tea around five hours before bedtime is best.
No, drinking green tea will not make you pregnant! However, you may need to lower your green tea consumption during pregnancy or if you're breastfeeding. Green tea contains caffeine and tannins that have been linked to increased risks during pregnancy. The caffeine may also be passed to the child through breast milk, so moderation is crucial.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, one or two cups of green tea per day should be okay. If you're unsure, check with your doctor.
Drinking Green Tea is Great!
In summary, green tea has incredible health benefits and a wide range of flavors. Loose-leaf green tea is an excellent traditional medicine, from helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and improving skin health to having weight loss and anti-anxiety effects. No wonder it's one of the world's most popular beverages!
So, sit back, relax, and enjoy a tasty cup of freshly brewed green tea as you also enjoy the many health benefits of this magical and refreshing beverage. Drinking tea has never been this good!