Good both cold and hot, green tea is a concentrate of beneficial and healing properties . In fact, it is rich in antioxidants (flavonoids and polyphenols), vitamins (especially A and group B) and minerals (fluorine, zinc, manganese). So help your body stay healthy, young and fit. It improves brain function and helps to remove the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease , thanks to its ability to regulate blood cholesterol levels .
In addition, many studies have shown that it would also have the power to stimulate the metabolism. Hence, drinking green tea would limit the absorption of fats and help burn them. Ally of your well-being, it is also a beauty companion for your skin and hair , preventing it from falling out.
Several studies have shown a reduced risk of developing some chronic diseases in green tea drinkers. Thus, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 showed that consumption of green tea is associated with a reduction in the mortality rate. In this study, they observed 40,000 Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 79 for 11 years. Those who drank more than 3 cups a day were less at risk of terminal diseases , especially cardiovascular causes.
Additionally, green tea is known to have more polyphenols than black tea and less caffeine. Polyphenols (flavonoids, catechin) are antioxidant molecules including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Despite its beneficial properties, overuse of green tea can cause irritability and insomnia and promote ulceration.
Lately, it has also become famous as a food for “healthy” recipes , such as cupcakes, muffins, milkshakes but also ice cream.
Green tea: what it is
Green tea, before being the second most consumed drink in the world after water, is a medicinal plant used for centuries in China and Japan. On the other hand, green tea is part of the remedies of traditional Asian and especially Chinese medicine.
Like all other types of tea (black, red and white) the green one comes from the Camelia Sinensis plant , also known under the name of tea tree, originally from China.
But green tea is most famous for its beneficial health effects. In fact, it is the tea that undergoes fewer transformations and therefore retains greater virtues, because it is not fermented.
Green tea: difference between China and Japan
The processing of green tea is different in that it is produced with unfermented leaves .
In fact, after the harvest, the green tea leaves are steam treated and dried. This heating helps to inactivate the enzymes to avoid fermentation and to maintain the green color of the leaves. Instead, after the infusion, green tea has a light color .
However, Chinese green tea is roasted with the wok technique which consists of cooking the leaves at about 300 degrees in a metal tank. This treatment can ruin the leaves and diminish their properties.
For this reason, Chinese green teas have a lower average quality than Japanese ones and a more limited storage time.
In fact, unlike Japan, there are no rules or laws in China that control the agricultural quality of plantations. So this can be an important factor in choosing tea , especially as regards pesticides.
There are different price ranges, depending on the flavors and fame of the different teas, but it is possible to find a good Japanese green tea at a reasonable price.
- Shinsha: spring green tea
- Sensha: the king of green teas
- Gyokuro: rich in aminated acids
- Genmaicha: calms and warms
- Bancha: has little caffeine
- Kukicha and Karigane: rich in aminated acids and with little caffeine
- Benifuuki: anti allergic and cleanses the liver
- Matcha: detox and antioxidant.
Green tea cultivar
It is important to know the properties of the different green tea cultivars in order to choose the tea according to its flavor and benefits.
Cultivars of the Camellia Sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze
The green tea plant is native to South West China. There are traces of its cultivation and use as a medicinal plant for over 5000 years. The green tea is now grown in 52 countries , mainly in:
- Sri Lanka
Furthermore, the global area and the production of green tea have greatly increased in recent years. To date, 500 varieties are grown and marketed worldwide.
Crosses of new varieties
The development of tea cultivars had already started in ancient China. At the end of the 18th century, cutting and layering techniques created to increase production led to the birth and selection of new tea seed species. Today, controlled natural and hybrid varieties are the most cultivated by producers.
Since the 1950s, hundreds of new cultivars have been developed to improve the quality of green teas and increase resistance to pests and frost.
They are leaders in this field :
- Sri Lanka
Climate in Japan
Production is heavily influenced by:
- typological conditions
- soil richness.
In fact, the Camellia Sinensis plant is a subtropical plant that does not resist the cold and needs sun and rain . The tea tree does not grow in stagnant wetlands and appreciates a strong temperature range between day and night.
For this reason, the greatest production of green tea is concentrated in 20 regions of Southern Japan . Not only that, the best productions are in high altitude areas with a sparkling climate where the tree grows slowly but draws the maximum of ingredients from the soil.
Regions of production
The most famous regions for the production of green tea in Japan are:
Located in the center of Japan, this territory is recognized worldwide as the largest Japanese tea producer and exporter. It generates almost 40% of the total production of green tea in Japan. The climate is fairly temperate, with abundant rainfall conducive to crops.
This region is a leader in the production of Sencha and Sencha Fukamushi (roasted 2 or 3 times for longer) but also produces numerous other high quality tea varieties.
The symbol of this region is the famous Fuji volcano, at the foot of which numerous high quality teas are grown.
Japan’s second largest tea producing region . The tea plantations are on the plain and this facilitates the harvest.
The volcanic island of Kyushu is the third largest island in southwest Japan and has a subtropical climate. While the plains of Kagoshima can boast about 27% of domestic production, the island of Kyūshū represents 30% of national production.
Kyūshū tea is famous for its Sencha, although it is considered to be of slightly lower quality.
This region is located southeast of Kyushu and is famous for the quality of Sencha tea.
Fukuoka and Yame
The Fukuoka region, especially Yame, is famous for its excellent quality Gyokuros tea.
Mié et son Sencha
Mié Prefecture on the island of Honshu in the Kinki region is the third largest tea producing region in Japan. This area is famous for the quality of Sencha and Kabusechas teas. In addition, the central region of Mie has an ancient tradition for growing green tea.
Uji City: Gyokuro, Matcha and Sencha
The city of Uji is located south of the city of Kyoto in the Kyoto prefecture. This region represents only 3% of national production. However, it is famous worldwide for the excellent quality of the tea. In fact, the so-called “shadow method” is followed (Matcha et Gyokuro).
Uji is also considered the cradle of green tea for Sencha.
In addition, real tea is produced and exported all over the world, especially the Gyokuro, Matcha and Sencha qualities.
Matcha de Nishio (Aichi)
Nishio is the ideal area for tencha cultivation due to its mild climate, fertile land and irrigation from the Yahagi River. Tencha leaves are the raw material for making the famous Matcha tea powder.
In fact, Nishio produces about 290 tons per year and is the main Matcha producer in Japan (about 25% of national production)
Green tea in Japan: history
Green tea culture in Japan has a very rich history and a tradition dating back to around the year 800. According to a legend, the tea would have been imported into the archipelago by Chinese Buddhist monks, first on the island of Kyūshū.
Later, the plant was brought to the Uiji (Kyoto) region. Furthermore, for a long time, green tea was the prerogative of the nobility.
Subsequently, the consumption of green tea and its cultivation developed throughout the territory, with the Meiji renewal at the end of the nineteenth century.
Today, the country of the Rising Sun is the second largest tea producer in the world after China.
Discovery of tea: Chinese emperor Shennong
The history of green tea begins around 5000 years ago in China. Legend has it that Emperor Shennong (around 2000 BC) discovered the properties of tea.
Originally, these were wild trees that were found mainly in the mountainous area of southern China.
The discovery of the tonic and refreshing effect of the leaves of these trees but also of their medicinal properties has contributed to the development of green tea. It was initially used only by Buddhist monks and later also by the Chinese nobility.
Cooking tea under the Tang dynasty
In the 4th and 5th centuries, tea was produced in a different way than today. The leaves were wet after harvesting, then reduced to powder and finally squeezed. After that, they were mixed and cooked with numerous ingredients. Rice, ginger, salt, onion, orange zest, etc.
Green tea and Zen Buddhism in Japan
It arrives in Japan in the eighth century, through Chinese Buddhist monks.
It would appear that these monks would organize trips to Japan to export tea. Others argue that Japanese monks would go to China to study “the art of tea”.
Buddhism and the particular properties of tea therefore played an important role in the development of Japanese culture.
Indeed, green tea was highly valued by Buddhist monks for its invigorating and stimulating effects and its consumption helped them stay focused during long hours of meditation.
Still today in Japan, this drink has a symbolic value that goes beyond the gustatory experience.
Green tea: nutritional values
The infusions, and among them green tea, exploit the high temperatures of the water to transfer many nutrients and molecules that play a protective role for our cells. Among these substances, the main ones are flavonoids and polyphenols, of which green tea is rich.
Flavanols and flavonoids, including anthocyanins, are recognized as physiological protective actions for the body. Among the main actions associated with them, the most important is antioxidant.
This action is due to their ability to inhibit chemical reactions known as oxidative, i.e. reactions in which our molecules exchange electrons with each other generating charged molecules.
In fact, a charged molecule reacts easily with others, progressively generating damage often extended to the point of preventing cells from managing them, causing mutations that can contribute to the onset of even serious diseases.
Epicatechin (EC) and epigallocatechin (EGC)
Among the best known polyphenols it contains, green tea has a family of catechins, among which epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG) and the best known epigallocatechin stand out. 3-gallate (EGCG).
Green tea: health benefits
EGCG is the most active of all the catechins and performs another very important function, namely to support the liver.
This organ presides over the energy management of our body. In synergy with hormones, insulin and glucagon, it makes glucose available when needed or transforms it into fatty acids when it is in excess.
A healthy liver works better and optimizes this function thus managing to regulate cholesterol levels (especially HDL) and triglycerides.
Fat burner properties
This is why the fat burning properties of this EGCG molecule are due, which have made green tea a real ‘divinity’ for those looking for quick remedies to lose weight. Unfortunately, this is not the case, since in order to obtain this benefit from the EGCG, it would be necessary to consume a decidedly exaggerated quantity of green tea.
But studies have shown that drinking 3 cups of green tea a day burns up to 80 more calories!
This is due to the fact that for the properties mentioned above, the consumption of this drink facilitates the physiology of our body, making it work better and, consequently, stimulating the metabolism.
However, it should be remembered that maximum benefit can be derived from tea only if it is included in a healthy, varied and balanced diet.
Green tea is rich in flavonoids. So, taking a right dose of antioxidant molecules, such as to support those that our body is able to produce by itself, performs an important defensive action. First of all, in favor of the circulatory system, for the precision of the blood microcirculation.
All with the logical consequence of support for the cardiovascular system and related organs, such as the liver and pancreas, but also of a reduction in the incidence of damage that can lead to the appearance of neoplasms (anti-mutagenic and anti-tumor action).
It protects against brain accidents
According to a study conducted by the University of Maastricht , consuming green tea every day would protect against the risk of cerebral vascular accidents.
It is the catechins , i.e. the antioxidant substances present in green tea, that create a protective effect since they help lower blood pressure and improve blood circulation .
It reactivates the metabolism and helps you lose weight in health
It speeds up the metabolism and helps you to dispose of fat, especially abdominal fat, that is, the one located on the belly, which represents the highest risk because it is most associated with cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders and diabetes, especially in the presence of high cholesterol.
Green tea alone does not have miraculous properties but, within a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, also with excellent protective properties, it creates a synergy of nutrients that has a positive effect on health in general.
It has always been drunk for its stimulating and energizing powers. In fact, starting a day with a cup of green tea or drinking it when you’re tired helps fight fatigue.
Green tea: how to consume it
Water and infusion
The water, the boiling temperature and the brewing time significantly change the flavor of the tea. You can consume it, hot, cold, sweetened or not, but you must know that the best choice is to consume it naturally.
What kind of tea to choose
Mint green tea, organic, Chinese green tea, Japanese: differences
There is a large variety of green teas. Around 1500 types exist in the world, the Chinese Gunpowder, the Japanese Sencha and the Gyokuro are the most famous.
Green tea: which one to choose
So Japan’s green teas are of better quality and more carefully packaged. In fact, they stand out because fermentation is blocked at the time of collection.
Roasting is done in the steam and is a very delicate process. In this way, the tea leaf is preserved and retains all its virtues.
Sencha tea is the most common in Japan, its leaves are exposed to the sun. Instead, Gyokuro tea is considered to be the best Japanese tea and its flavor is slightly fragrant.
In addition to these 2 teas, there are Bancha, Jabusecha, Tencha, Tamaryokucha, whose composition and flavor vary.
In addition, there is also Genmaicha green tea or toasted tea, because it is a mix of tea and puffed rice grains whose flavor is unique.
Instead, Matcha green tea is a very famous green tea powder in Japan. Its traditional preparation is done with a small bamboo whisk. This tea is very tasty and would be the most beneficial for health because it often comes from the latest collections.
Organic green tea: a guarantee?
Green tea produced from organic agriculture comes from a certified plantation which should be an indicator of the quality of the plant, grown without the use of pesticides.
But be careful, the ‘bio’ label does not necessarily guarantee a product without pesticides or pollutants because the control is difficult to do.
Green mint tea for digestion
This tea is a mix of green tea and mint and contains many antioxidants. In addition, mint leaves contain a lot of vitamin C, iron and manganese and have antiseptic and digestive virtues.
Contraindications and side effects
Although natural, this drink can cause some side effects in some people mainly because it is rich in caffeine but also due to the contribution of chlorophyll. Therefore, the consumption of up to 3 cups a day does not have harmful or harmful effects on health.
In fact, the abuse of tea can cause:
- skin irritation
So in the case of diseases such as inflammation of the stomach, intestines or ulcer, kidney problems or hemophilia, the consumption of green tea could worsen the symptoms.
Also, the interaction with some medicines could be harmful. For this reason, it is best to consult your doctor. Furthermore, associated with alcohol, its consumption can amplify the diuretic effects.
But, the tolerance of the organism varies from one individual to another, depending on the physical condition and strength.
Indeed, pregnant women are more sensitive to its effects and the consumption of green tea can be discouraged in pregnancy. So ask your gynecologist for advice.
What to do in case of side effects
It is recommended to moderate your consumption or choose lighter teas, with less caffeine, such as Bancha or Genmaicha.
In case of sensitivity to caffeine, it is recommended to initially reduce the time of the infusion and then increase it progressively so as to leave the body to get used to time.
In addition, to minimize unwanted effects, the advice is to drink a glass of mineral water after drinking tea.
Purchase and consumption guide: when to drink green tea
Green tea is sold in bulk, in ready-made sachets and also in powder form. The bulk one has undergone fewer manipulations and is highly appreciated by lovers of this drink.
You can also find ready-to-use tea products on the market, such as drinks but also as biscuits, ice cream and desserts, etc.
In order not to lose its benefits, it must be kept in an airtight container.
It is not recommended to drink it on an empty stomach because it could alter digestive functions.
It is best to consume it about half an hour before or after meals. If you want to benefit from its slimming virtues, this method will help the body burn fat and detoxify. In addition, it will help you strengthen the absorption of magnesium, catechins and vitamins A and C.
Instead, it is not recommended to drink it before going to bed because it may affect sleep.
Drink 3 cups a day for 10 days and take a 5 day break.
Green tea on a diet
If you drink green tea to dispose of fats, do not add sugar! But, if the strong flavor of green tea bothers you, you can use a teaspoon of honey which is certainly less caloric than sugar and is the ideal natural sweetener for herbal teas.
In addition, honey has soothing and sedative properties and thanks to its active ingredients it calms heartburn, especially if you choose a lime, acacia or eucalyptus honey.
Tips for making green tea
Pour 2 teaspoons into boiling water. Usually, the infusion time is indicated on the package. Normally it goes from 2 to 5 minutes.
Matcha green tea is also excellent with milk but also as a thirst quencher and moisturizer. If you prefer it with water, better to use mineral water.
Green tea alternative uses: scrubs and beauty masks with green tea
It is ideal for taking care of your skin . In fact, its consumption is excellent for fighting wrinkles and rashes thanks to its action against free radicals.
Among the catechins found in tea, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) has an antioxidant effect 25 times more effective than vitamin C and E . In fact, this substance protects your skin from free radicals, from external aggressions, such as pollution, and from stress. It therefore has an anti-wrinkle effect if consumed regularly.
In addition, it is also a valid ally for the health of your hair, fortifying it and preventing it from falling out . Generally it is recommended to take 2 cups a day to feel the positive effects.
Facial scrub with green tea
1 tablespoon of green tea leaves
100 g of organic brown sugar
1 tablespoon of Matcha tea
25 ml of almond oil.
Cut the leaves into small pieces. Mix the sugar with the powder and leaves. Add the almond oil and the tea and mix until a homogeneous paste is obtained. Spread on the make-up remover and massage. Leave on for 5 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
Lifting mask with green tea
Matcha tea 1 tbsp
yogurt 1 tbsp
honey 1 tbsp
lemongrass essential oil (optional).
In a container, pour all the ingredients. Mix carefully with a wooden spoon or a small whisk. On the clean face, apply the mask and leave on for 15 minutes.
Strengthening mask for hair
green tea 2 tablespoons of powdered tea.
In a container, beat the egg and add the powdered tea. Mix well and apply the mask on wet hair. Leave on for 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water and continue with shampoo and after shampoo.
Green tea: use in the kitchen
Tea is mainly consumed in cold or hot infusion. But you can also use it to flavor sauces, desserts, soups, etc.
1 – Matcha tea sorbet
Total calories 715 / calories per person 119
Ingredients for 6 people
200 ml water
180 g sugar
2 teaspoons matcha
1 liter of tea.
In a saucepan, place the sugar together with the 200 ml of water. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
If the syrup is boiling, let it cool down, add the two tablespoons of matcha and mix thoroughly with a whisk, so that the tea does not make lumps
Then add the liter of green tea and let it cool.
If you do not have an ice cream machine, pour the liquid into a container suitable for low temperatures and store in the freezer for at least 6 hours. During this time, you will need to stir occasionally, every about 30 minutes, with a spoon (or even better with an immersion mixer) to break the ice crystals. If you have an ice cream machine, pour the mixture inside and keep it until you get a sorbet with a solid consistency. If you have an ice cream machine, pour the mixture into it and stir until you get a sorbet with a solid consistency.
Serve immediately with fresh currants or other fruit.
2 – Green tea with blueberry juice, strawberries, cardamom
Total calories 150 / calories per person 75
Ingredients for 2 people
350 ml water
2 tea bags
150 ml unsweetened cranberry juice
30 g blueberries
80 g strawberries
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder.
Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and dip the tea bags, following the times indicated on the package (about 3-4 minutes).
Remove the tea bags, add the cardamom powder, stir and leave at room temperature until the tea has cooled.
When it is cold, add the cranberry juice to the cardamom tea. Soak the previously cut strawberries and blueberries, leave them to infuse, put them in the fridge for a few hours immediately, until the tea is well frozen.
Serve the iced blueberry and cardamom juice tea with all the strawberries, blueberries and ice cubes.
3 – Green tea with lavender and puffed rice
Ingredients for 1 person
16/20 g green tea
2 lavender flowers
4 spoons of puffed rice.
Bring the water to a boil. Before boiling completely turn off the heat and add the tea and other ingredients.
Leave everything to infuse for about 8/12 minutes, then filter through a narrow-mesh strainer, pouring the liquid directly into a carafe or glass bottle (in the latter case, use a funnel to facilitate the execution).
Do not close the carafe or the bottle until the liquid has completely dissolved. At this point, close and put in the refrigerator.
NCCIH – Green Tea Side Effects and Cautions (From the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)