|Binomial Name||Camellia sinensis|
We all have come across green tea as the weight loss tea through media commercials. It is one of the most popularly sold beverage all over the world. Besides that, green tea has the longest history and has been documented across many Asian cultures. Made from the Camellia sinensis leaves, green tea originated in China. Camellia sinensis is a species of evergreen shrub or a small tree and its leaves and leaf buds are used for producing tea. It is now widely produced and manufactured in many Asian countries.
Green tea does not undergo the same withering and oxidation process which are used in making oolong and black teas. It is considerably less oxidized. The tea leaves are harvested from the plant and then quickly heated either by pan frying or steaming. The leaves are then dried to prevent too much oxidation that would turn the green leaves brown and lose its essence. Green tea has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Its antioxidant properties and low caffeine levels have made it a healthy option for tea drinkers.
China is considered to have the earliest records of tea consumption. Green Tea is the most widely produced tea in China with 1.42 million tons grown in 2014. Although there have been written records which trace the cultivation of green tea as far back as the Han Dynasty when its foremost use was medicinal, it wasn’t until China’s early Tang Dynasty that we hear of green tea being consumed for pleasure.
As mentioned in Lu Yu’s most famous ‘The Classics of Tea’, Shennong – the legendary Emperor of China and inventor of agricultural and Chinese medicine was drinking a bowl of hot boiled water. It was around 2737 BC, a few leaves were blown by a nearby tree that accidentally fell in his bowl of water changing its color and taste. He took a sip and was surprised by its taste and rejuvenating properties. A source of the legend told that the emperor tested medicinal properties of different herbs on himself, some of them were even poisonous. The emperor found tea to work as an antidote.
Besides being a popular choice of beverage in Asia, green tea is now consumed in various parts of the world. In Britain, 12 % of people drink green tea on a weekly basis with its sales increasing remarkably. It has also gained popularity in the US for its health benefits. About 15% of the tea consumed in the US is now green tea. India, which is the second largest producer of tea after China, has also seen the significant rise of green tea sales. The market for green tea shot up to 50 crores and is the fastest growing in India’s 16,000 crore tea industry. It has now become an aspirational drink all over the world. Clever marketing campaigns by huge green tea brands have also contributed to its rising demand.
Regular brewed green tea is 99.9% water and provides 1 calorie per 100 mL serving. It contains phytochemicals such as polyphenols and caffeine. It boosts you with energy around 0.96 kcal, protein of about 0.2g and essential vitamins in small quantities such as vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, and vitamin C. It also has minerals in low amounts such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and sodium.
Polyphenols found in green tea include epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epicatechin gallate, epicatechins, and flavanols. It is rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a powerful antioxidant and is the main polyphenol found in green tea, known to be beneficial for human health. L-theanine is also found in green tea which is considered good especially for the brain. Other constituents include three kinds of flavonoids, known as kaempferol, quercetin, and myricetin.
1. Green Tea and Cancer
The antioxidants found in green tea helps lower your risk for developing cancers. Researchers believe that it is the high levels of polyphenols in tea that helps kill cancerous cells and prevents them from growing.
2. Heart Benefits
Studies found a minor correlation between daily consumption of green tea and 5% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Green tea reduces the risk of strokes.
Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading cause of deaths around the world. Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risks for these diseases. Regular consumption of green tea reduces cholesterol and its antioxidant properties increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood which protects the LDL particles from oxidants.
The antioxidants in green tea help fight inflammation in your body. Researchers studied an animal model with inflammation along with skin irritation and overproduction of growth cells. Those treated with green tea showed slower growth of skin cells. Polyphenols found in green tea helps fight inflammation due to UV rays or rheumatoid arthritis conditions.
4. Brain Health
Not only can green tea helps your brain functions now but it can also help your brain in old age. The EGCG, caffeine, and L-theanine helps to promote better brain function. The amount of caffeine found in green tea improves memory and reaction time. L- theanine has anti-anxiety effects and helps you to calm down. EGCG refreshes your brain and also reduces fatigue. Including green tea in your diet will help fight dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease in the long term.
5. Weight loss
You might have seen TV commercials highlighting the weight loss factor associated with green tea. Since green tea increases the metabolic rate, it may contribute to weight loss. The caffeine present in green tea acts as a stimulant that aids fat burning and increases exercise endurance. The main antioxidant in green tea, EGCG, suppresses an enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine. This hormone norepinephrine signals a more fat breakdown in the body which can now be used for energy.
6. Prevent Diabetes
Green tea consumption lowers fasting blood sugars. It can improve insulin sensitivity. Catechins in green tea help lower your risk for type II diabetes. A study with Japanese individuals showed that people who drank green tea regularly had 42% less chance of developing type II diabetes.
7. Live Longer
Daily consumption of green tea lowers the risk of death from many diseases. Regular green tea intake protects telomeres from damage. Telomere damage affects our biological age and increases the risk of diseases. Polyphenols in green tea help prevent aging. Also, all the health benefits that come with it will add to a better quality life.
8. Dental Health and Infections
Studies have shown that catechins found in green tea can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, which lowers your risk of infections. The primary harmful bacteria in the mouth is Streptococcus mutans. The catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans. Consumption of Green tea is associated with improving dental health and reducing bad breath.