What is green, grows on trees and is good for you? If you answered “green tea” because you read the title, you are partly right. Green tea actually comes from a shrub called Camellia sinensis, a native of China, although the plant is grown in other parts of the world.
Another reason your answer is only partly right is because black tea is harvested from the same Camellia sinensis plant. The difference in both types of tea lies in the processing. While black tea is allowed to fully oxidize before it is heat-processed, green tea is quickly heated and dried to prevent oxidation, which would turn the green leaves brown and change the flavor and chemical composition of the tea.
So, what does all of this have to do with your health? In my last post I told you that type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, therefore you need to do whatever you can to protect your heart. According to Healthline, “green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet. ” It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that are said to improve brain function, promote weight loss and lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.
According to Dr. Oz, researchers found that of “a subset of more than 14,000 tea drinkers, those who drank green tea gained around 25% more protection against heart disease, stroke, and all-cause death than those who drank black or flavored teas. ”
While green tea does contain caffeine, it has a much lower percentage than black tea or coffee, therefore you get the benefits of improved mood and alertness without the jittery feeling you get from coffee. Also, because black tea is fermented, the polyphenols –nutrient-rich chemicals found in plants–are oxidized, making them less heart-protective. In green tea, those polyphenols can also regulate glucose in the body and help to control diabetes.
Now that you know about all these great benefits of green tea, how about a cup? In doing my research, I picked up a few pointers about brewing tea that I didn’t know before:
- Teatulia, a site that publishes a lot of information on tea, says spring water is the best, but if that is not available, use clean, filtered water.
- Don’t scorch your tea! I didn’t know what that meant, but Teatulia explains that tea should be infused at around 160 to 180 degrees. If you don’t have an electric kettle with temperature control, simply let your boiling water cool before pouring it over your green tea leaves.
- Cover your steeping tea to keep the heat in.
- Green tea should be steeped from 30 – 60 seconds for early harvest teas –usually around March or April in China –to 2 – 3 minutes for regular harvest.
- Most high-quality loose leaf teas can be steeped multiple times.
- Adding milk or sugar is fine, but remember you will be adding calories.
Armed with all this information, I’m heading for the kitchen to make myself a cup. Hope you’ll do the same.