Green tea has its roots in China, and it is obtained from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. According to legend, Green tea was first brewed in 2737 BC.
Various ancient books speak volumes about the benefits of green tea, The Kissa Yojoki (Book of Tea) written by a Zen Priest describes how green tea has positive effects on the five vital organs.
Green Tea Nutrition
Green tea is a hydrating calorie-free beverage that contains much health promoting nutrients. The main ingredients include
- Essential oils
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamins B12
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin P
- There are over 450 organic substances in this tea.
Antioxidants and Catechins
Catechins are the major group of astringency component polyphenols in green tea. The most active catechins are the epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG). Other compounds include
- Gallocatechin (GC)
- Epicatechin (EC)
- Epigallocatechin (EGC)
- Epicatechin gallate (Ecg)
EGCG is a powerful antioxidant that fights against the aging process. In animal experiments, researchers found that EGCG protects against oxidative stress and free radical damage. It also regulates other bioprocesses such as energy metabolism, biosynthesis, and stress response. All these are the contributing factors for the aging process.
During aging, energy production within the cells is greatly reduced. This action results in increased free radicals that damage mitochondria along with impaired gene function for stress tolerance and rejuvenation. The antioxidant EGCG changes all these adverse functions of the cells. It increases the gene signals for longevity; this results in significant energy improvement and production of new mitochondria.
The EGCG polyphenols in green tea inhibit an enzyme required for cancer cell growth and even kills cancer cells without harming the healthy cells. Researchers from the University of Kansas found that EGCG is twice as powerful as resveratrol in killing cancer cells.
EGCG lowers the cellular levels of a protein called cyclin D1 that is necessary for the growth of cancer cells. They cause the cancer cells to go into growth arrest. It increases the levels of other important cellular proteins that make it very difficult for cancer cells to grow.
The antioxidants present in green tea neutralizes free radicals and protects the cells. They reduce blood cholesterol levels, prevents tooth decay, has antibacterial properties, inhibits high blood pressure, fights bad breath, aids in digestion and provides anti-hyperglycemic effect (excess of glucose).
The tannins in green tea boost your immunity levels and provide protection against environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke and pollution.
The theanine present in green tea provides neuronal cell protection, lowers blood pressure, helps in the production of dopamine and increases alpha waves to the brain. Thus it relaxes people and promotes good sleep. It helps in the production of antibodies and protects against infection.
The caffeine present in green tea increases alertness and decreases tiredness and drowsiness. It prevents a hangover, increases stamina and increases the number of calories burned. Along with the antioxidants, the caffeine stimulates metabolism and helps in the oxidation of fat.
Vitamin C - The amount of vitamin C in green tea is comparable to a lemon. It helps in the maintenance of healthy skin and the formation of collagen. Vitamin C has great antioxidant benefits.
Folic acid - five cups of green tea a day will provide 5-10% the daily requirement of niacin, riboflavin, folic acid and pantothenic acid. It helps to prevent fetal neural tube defects and arterial sclerosis.
Vitamin B2 - it helps in the maintenance of healthy skin and mucous membrane. Riboflavin helps in energy production and RBC production.
Beta carotene - Helps in the maintenance of night time vision and it slows cognitive decline.
Vitamin E - it balances cholesterol, repairs damaged skin and thickens hair.
The saponins in green tea get their name from their soap-like quality. They reduce your cholesterol levels and improve the immunity of the body. They greatly reduce the colon cancer risk.
A cup of green tea provides approximately 0.1 mg of fluorine which is higher than in fluorinated water. It helps in the prevention of tooth decay.
Gamma Amino Butyric Acid is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that lowers your blood pressure, stress, and depression. It helps you to focus and promotes sleep.
Five cups of green tea a day provides 5% of the daily requirement of magnesium, 25% potassium and 45% requirement of manganese.
The potassium, calcium, phosphorous and manganese present in green tea act as biological regulators.
This plant pigment helps in normal blood clotting, hormonal balance, wound healing, deodorizing and detoxification of the body.
Hot Green Tea Recipes
Ginger Green Tea
- One cup water
- One tsp julienned fresh ginger
- Two teaspoons green tea
- Lemon slices optional
- One teaspoon honey
- Boil the water. Add the ginger and boil for 30 seconds.
- Remove from heat and add the tea leaves. You can also use green tea bags. Steep for 2-3 minutes.
- Add honey and lemon. Drink it hot.
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves (about ½ a bunch)
- One tablespoon Chinese green tea
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Rinse a 6 cup teapot with boiling water and discard.
- Place mint, sugar and tea in the teapot.
- Add 5 cups of boiling water to the teapot.
- Allow it to steep for 3-4 minutes.
- Stir and serve immediately.
Hot Spiced Green Tea Recipe
- Four green tea bags
- Two cinnamon sticks
- ½ teaspoon fresh minced ginger root
- 4 crushed cardamom pods
- ½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
- Two tablespoons honey
- 4 cups boiling water
- In large bowl combine cinnamon sticks, green tea bags, minced ginger, lemon peel, and cardamom.
- Add boiling water, cover and steep for 5-6 minutes.
- Strain and discard the tea bags and spices.
- Stir honey into tea.
- Serve piping hot. It serves four people.
Tulsi Green Tea (Holy Basil Green Tea)
Tulsi is one of the best medicinal herbs known to mankind. When it is combined with green tea it works wonders for your health.
- Tulsi leaves- 8-10
- Green tea bag- 1
- Honey -1 teaspoon
- Wash and chop the tulsi leaves. Place the leaves and green tea bag in a cup.
- Pour warm water over it. Cover it with a saucer and allow it to steep for 4-5 minutes.
- Take out the tea bag. Add honey, stir gently and enjoy it.
Japanese Green Tea Rice
Green tea rice is a simple Japanese dish that combines Sencha green tea, steamed rice and an assortment of other ingredients such as fish or veggies that can be changed according to the taste or seasons.
- 1 cup steamed rice (sushi rice or brown rice)
- 1 cup brewed Japanese green tea
- Fresh, steamed or sautéed veggies (optional)
- Seaweed flakes (optional)
- Cooked seafood tofu dried or fried (optional)
- Dried or cooked mushrooms (optional)
- Chopped spring onions (optional)
- Tiny rice crackers or other savory seasonings
- A dab of wasabi (optional)
- A splash of soy sauce
- Place rice in a bowl. Top it with the above-given ingredients and seasonings of your choice.
- Add hot green tea and serve. You can use Japanese pickled side dish to enhance the taste.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Aids In Weight Loss
Green tea boosts the metabolic rate in the short term and helps you to slim down. Scientific literature shows that green tea reduces body fat, especially in the abdominal area. It also reduces body fat percentage, waist circumference, and body weight.
Reduces Cardiovascular Risk
Science says that green tea drinkers have up to 31% lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. Green tea dramatically increases the antioxidant capacity of the blood. It also protects the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is one part of the pathway to heart disease.
Lowers Type 2 Diabetes Risk
A Japanese study found that persons who drank green tea had 42% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Research studies show that green tea improves insulin sensitivity and thereby reduces blood sugar levels.
The National Cancer Institute says that the polyphenols in tea decrease tumor growth in experimental animals. The polyphenols also protect us from the damage caused by UVB radiation.
Research studies show that green tea fights breast, ovarian, bladder, esophageal, lung, colorectal, skin, stomach and prostate cancers.
According to Journal of American Heart Association drinking green tea on a regular basis is linked to reduced risk of stroke. You can drink green tea on a daily basis as a lifestyle modification.
Inflammatory Skin Diseases
Green tea holds a great promise as a new treatment for psoriasis and dandruff. Researchers studied animal models that had patches of dry, red and flaky skin caused by overproduction of skin cells and inflammation.
The animals treated with green tea showed slower growth of skin cells and the presence of a gene that regulates the life cycle of these cells.
Improves Brain Function
Green tea contains caffeine which blocks adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This way it increases firing of neurons and concentration of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine.
Green tea improves brain function, vigilance, improved mood, reaction time and memory.
Lowers risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Research studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea protect the neurons found in test tubes and animal models. This protective action of the catechins lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Cold Green Tea Recipes
Matcha Green Tea Smoothie Recipe
- One very ripe banana
- ½ tsp good quality matcha powder
- ½ cup low fat milk or coconut milk creamer
- ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
- Sweetener to taste (optional)
- Mix all the ingredients together.
- Blend until the mixture is smooth. You can stop the blender in between to stir it evenly.
- Blending will be easier if you add the matcha powder before the milk or dairy alternative.
Iced Lavender Green Tea
- Dried lavender blossoms- 11/2 tsp
- Tea bags – 4
- Spring lavender (optional)-1
- Heat ½ cup of water in a saucepan.
- Remove the pan from heat. Add green and dried lavender blossoms to the water.
- Steep for 5 minutes, strain into a bowl and let it cool for some time.
- Pour the prepared tea into ice-filled glasses and season it with some lavender sprigs.
Green Tea Cranberry Spritzer
- Green tea – 4
- Cranberry juice- ½ cup
- Seltzer (chilled)-3 cups
- Sugar-1/3 cup
- Water-1/3 cup
- Heat water in a saucepan and add sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves completely.
- Steep 2 green tea bags in a 2 cups of boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove tea bags and cool it completely.
- Add cranberry juice and divide the tea into four different ice filled glasses. Top it with chilled seltzer and serve.
Rose Petal Green Tea
- Green tea leaves-1 tsp
- Oranges- 1
- Dried and crumbled rose and hibiscus petals-1 tsp
- Dry the orange rinds at room temperature for a day and grind them finely.
- In a cup add green tea leaves, rind, and the flower petals.
- Pour boiling water and let the tea steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain and add artificial sweetener and cool in the fridge for one hour.
- Sip the chilled tea.
Benefits Of Drinking Iced Green Tea
Cold green tea is an effective tonic for cardiovascular health and fat burning. It provides cool refreshment on a hot day.
EGCG the major polyphenol in green tea helps prevent obesity, decreases liver weight, reduces triglycerides and body weight.
The anti-obesity mechanism is said to be the green tea’s ability to prevent fat from being absorbed into the intestines, and this allows the fat to be excreted from the body.
According to the Institute of Optimum Nutrition, green tea has a mild lowering effect on the total cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. It lowers the undesirable LDL cholesterol while boosting the good HDL cholesterol levels.
Green tea reduces the oxidation of cholesterol and makes the platelets less sticky which can lead to the development of atherosclerosis and stroke.
Low Calorie Quenching
Unflavored iced green tea is a zero-calorie beverage. Drink your tea plain over ice or add lemon juice and ½ tsp of honey to provide sweetness and flavor with just 33 calories.
A Longer Life
According to a study published in 2006 in the Journal of American Medical Association, green tea consumption was linked to longevity.
Researchers followed more than 40,000 Japanese adults over the course of 11 years and found those who drank green tea were less likely to die from heart attack and other premature causes.
Tea interferes with iron absorption from fruits and veggies. Harvard researchers recommend adding lemon juice to counter this effect.
According to Harvard Health Publications, iced green tea from a bottle doesn’t contain as many catechins as the freshly brewed tea. So to guarantee potency, brew your tea at home and drink your green tea hot or chill it in the fridge, pour over ice and enjoy.