Good Day, Dearest Reader!
Over the past several months, I’ve been reading and hearing about some of the benefits of green tea. Not that I remember half of what I’ve read about it, but I do know it’s supposed to be good for you in various ways.
So I figured I would do a post on it to inform not only myself, but also you, although you may already know about its benefits.
As last Friday was my birthday, Chef P and I went to Canterbury for the day. We popped in to the tea and coffee store, Whittard’s. My mum-in-law wanted some Assam loose leaf tea and I decided to get myself some Green loose leaf tea. I currently have a green tea blend that I drink on occasion, but wanted to get just some proper green tea.
So what do we know about green tea? Well here’s the technical facts according to Wikipedia:
Green tea is made solely from the leaves of Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea originates in China and has become associated with many cultures throughout Asia. It has recently become more widespread in the West, where black tea is traditionally consumed. Many varieties of green tea have been created in countries where they are grown. These varieties can differ substantially due to variable growing conditions, horticulture production processing, and harvesting time.
Over the last few decades, green tea has been the subject of many medical and scientific studies to determine its health benefit claims with some evidence suggesting that regular green tea drinkers may have a lower risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Because of the minimal processing – leaves are steamed instead of fermented – green tea catechins are unique and contain a more concentrated form of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is the active ingredient that many studies have highlighted as the driving force behind green tea benefits.
My first cup of the new green tea was first thing in the morning which is quite unusual for me. My first cup in the morning is usually decaf, whether it be coffee or tea and I don’t have any caffeine until my second cup. My reasoning for this has to do with my blood sugar and if I have caffeine first thing, it really affects me and not in a good way. I thought I had heard that green tea was lower in caffeine so wanted to test it out. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get that shaky feeling that I would when I drink a regular cup of coffee or tea. Yay, one for me!
It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the amount of caffeine in green tea. Like other drinks from cultivated plants (tea, coffee), there are numerous variables that can alter caffeine content.
Length of brewing time also affects caffeine content so the longer the brew, the higher the caffeine.
One study compared the content of dry matter from tea leaves and found Green Tea had 10-20mg per 1 gram dried matter. Black Tea had 22-28mg per 1 gram dried matter.
One study compared the content of dry matter from tea leaves and found Green Tea had 10-20mg per 1 gram dried matter. Black Tea had 22-28mg per 1 gram dried matter. So as a general rule, Green Tea has less caffeine than Black Tea.
Green tea is also high in the amino acid L-theanine. This has a calming effect and aides with concentration. There’s a myth that green tea has more caffeine than coffee, but this isn’t true. L-theanine is most likely responsible for this. People will have a different level of alertness when drinking green tea which people mistake for the caffeine’s effect when it is really the effect of L-theanine.
Traditionally, many types of beauty products have used chemical antioxidants, or vitamins A, C and E as preservatives for their products. Now, with research indicating that green tea has even more antioxidant properties than these powerful vitamins, there is a surge in products capitalising on its natural benefits.
You don’t need to rush to the chemist to stock up on goodies. Concentrated green tea extract is simple to make at home and is a flexible addition to both your daily beauty routine and your medicine cabinet.
Simply steep 100g of green tea in half a litre of still mineral water at room temperature for at least one hour. Strain the liquor and it’s ready to use! It’s better to make small quantities and use it fresh but surplus liquid can be poured into clean, sterilised bottles and refrigerated.
The liquid can be used as a spritzer, to freshen up the face, or cotton pads soaked in it can be particularly soothing for tired or strained eyes. It has antiseptic properties, so can be used to treat minor cuts and rashes, and is surprisingly effective when applied to spots and blemishes. It can even be used as a treatment for sunburn – soak a cloth in the liquid and leave on the skin until the area begins to cool.
Green tea is also known for its ability to prevent bad breath – and it has the added advantage of tasting good if it’s inadvertently swallowed. Try making your own toothpaste to test it out.
Pour one cup of boiling water over 100g of Himalayan Green Tea and leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes. Make a paste using this liquid and one teaspoon of baking soda, and use this to brush your teeth as usual. The natural properties in the tea will curb mouth odor and help prevent plaque-forming microbes from attaching to the teeth.
Antibacterial properties found in green tea are also used by your body to kill the bacteria that causes plaque on your teeth. Research by the Journal of Periodontology has also shown that for every cup of green tea you drink, there is a decrease in indicators for gum disease. Fluoride is also found in green tea which helps to protect against cavities.
This gentle facemask will help remove toxins from your skin, as well as leaving it silky smooth.
Mix three tablespoons of mayonnaise with one heaped teaspoon of organic Himalayan green tea leaves. Apply evenly to the face, avoiding the delicate eye area, and leave for 20 minutes. Rinse the mask off, then dry and moisturise your face.
One of the latest benefits of green tea is the effect it has on your skin and the aging process. It is again down to the antioxidants that prevent cell oxidation and damage that can make you look older than you really are. Studies are mixed on this particular green tea benefit as new research has come to light which suggests the full benefits can only be had by applying green tea topically to your skin. However, many people have found that potent green tea extracts do have a positive effect on their skin, leaving it softer, more supply and younger looking.
Both green tea and green tea extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL cholesterol – both of which ultimately lead to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. The polyphenols in green tea are extremely useful for dissolving triglycerides, a substance in the liver and small intestine made up of mostly sugar and fat, and this is thought to be the reason green tea benefits fat loss. EGCG is also known to stimulate your metabolism and accelerate weight loss. When combined with the caffeine in green tea, this causes your central nervous system to release fat into the bloodstream to be used as fuel which burns your body fat off.
Researchers believe that green tea lowers your cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption in your digestive tract and increasing the rate of which it is excreted. However, your body does need cholesterol to build cell membranes, insulate nerve fibres and create hormones. For this, green tea benefits you by preventing the conversion of LDL cholesterol into it’s more dangerous, oxidized form. Oxidized LDL is one of the main factors in the development of atherosclerosis (the build of plaque that blocks your arteries as LDL gets sticky and clings to your artery walls) and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. The amazing antioxidant effects of green tea protect this, helping to keep your arteries clean.
So drink your green tea…and reap the benefits!