There are well-researched health benefits for drinking green tea. It is a chemopreventative, meaning that it lowers the risk or prevents cancer in healthy people. Green tea is protective of the heart and the vascular system. It lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of stroke. Green tea is thermogenic. It increases fat burning and promotes weight loss.
Green tea’s health benefits come from its high catechin content. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and possibly prevent cell damage. The antioxidant in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), helps to speed up the recovery of heart cells and minimizes cell death after a heart attack. Green tea is known to aid healthy cells in all stages of growth. There is, also, a natural chemical called theanine in green tea that has a calming effect.
How to Buy
Green tea gets its name from the natural green color of the leaves that the plant grows and green tint of the brew. The main defining differences between types of green tea stem from the where it is grown, the harvesting method, and the processing method.
Green tea is different from black and oolong tea because green tea leaves are picked and steamed raw, avoiding the oxidation process that leads to oolong and black teas.
The most common green tea in Japan is Sencha. Sencha has only about 30 mg of caffeine per cup, compared to 50 mg in black tea, and 110 mg-175 mg in coffee. With any tea, you can reduce the caffeine up to 80 percent by pouring out the first infusion of water. The flavor profile is light and refreshing with a mild sweetness and the aroma is fresh and green.
Gyokuro and tencha are similar and a bit pricier due to the more complicated harvesting and cultivation – in the shade rather than full sun.The tea bushes are sheltered to avoid the exposure of direct sunlight which reduces the pace of photosynthesis and slows down the growth of plants. This provides the leaves with a darker shade of green and stimulates the production of chlorophyll and amino acids. Gyokuro is a Japanese green tea that has leaves that look like pine needles, with a sweet and smooth taste. Caffeine is the source of bitterness in tea, and tannin is the source of its astringency. Compared with sencha, the shade-cultivated gyokuro tends to be smoother, more full-bodied, and less astringent.
Macha is ground up tencha. This is based off of the Song Dynasty custom, which would grind and brew the powder in hopes of acquiring the medicinal attributes. Because matcha is made from crushed whole tea leaves, the caffeine content is somewhat higher than that of bagged tea. In fact, the matcha caffeine levels can actually equal half the level of a black cup of coffee.
The rich antioxidants present in matcha tea help in cancer prevention, improved mental alertness and clarity, detoxification, free radical scavenging activity, and stronger immune defense. Match has 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea.
Gunpowder – the Chinese also call this “Pearl Tea”. The tea resembles tiny gunpowder pellets. When water is added, the little pellets or pearls unfurl. This tea stays freshest longest.
Dragonwell ia variety that is very popular in China. It tastes mellow and has a light green flavor. The leaves open to reveal a bud when water is added.
Buy green tea loose from a coop or online provider.
How to Store
Green tea is un-oxidized. It interacts easily with air and moisture, leading to rapid quality loss.
Once you open your sealed pouch, store in a cool, dark cupboard, in a part of the house where temperature is fairly even. Temperature change can induce water inside the tea container. A stainless steel container with a tight seal is good. As your container is not likely to be truly airtight, try to consume it as soon as possible, preferably within 2 months.
How to Cook
Brewing green tea is simple and you don’t need to worry about milk, lemon, or a sweetener, as green tea is meant to be enjoyed in its original, unadulterated state.
After boiling, the water should be allowed to sit for a moment as the ideal temperature for water for green tea is 180 °F (82 °C), 80C.
Add the loose green tea to a tea ball (a spoonful is adequate). A tea ball can also be dropped into a teapot for one or two if easier.
Loose tea can be added to hot water directly and strained when poured. Leave the tea to steep for a few minutes. 3 to 5 minutes is usually enough, unless the tea instructions advise otherwise.