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What is Green Tea?

brewing the green tea


Unbeknownst to many, green tea is the oldest tea preparation ever known to man — and arguably the healthiest. Some even claim the fresh green tea leaves have been used as far as 5,000 years ago. Others believe a legendary Emperor Shennong, a mythical Chinese ruler considered a deity in folk religion, has been instrumental in discovering the merits of green tea in 2737 BC. All by accident.

Whether such a legend is true or not, we can’t really ascertain. We don’t have reliable records to prove such a mythical figure ever walked the Earth. But even if the drink’s exact origins are untraceable, what’s apparent is green tea and its tremendous health benefits cannot be simply ignored. Small wonder Buddhist monks spread its magnificence all over Asia.

For some time there, green tea - fetching astronomical prices - was a drink available only to the highest tiers of Chinese society. As its magnificence eventually trickled down to the masses, so did its variants. In the 10th century, semi-fermented versions of green tea called Oolongs invaded the market. Pushing the envelope further, farmers introduced black tea or a fully-fermented version of green tea in 1590. Today, we may not be able to count by hand all versions and names of tea that sprung from green tea.

Indeed, every tea on the planet owes its existence to its mother, the green tea. What should astound you, even more, is green tea’s health benefits can hardly be outdone. Top of the list is the drink’s ability to fight the big C or cancer — amongst a long line-up of diseases. Indeed, that’s telling you you’d be doing yourself a huge favor when you choose to sip a cup of green tea, Camellia Sinensis leaves in its purest form. Read on.

Chart of green tea consumption 2005
chart of green tea consumption(1000 tons)


People in China consume about 50% of the total green tea consumptionof the planet while people in Japan follow a close second. Take notethat almost every tea drink in Japan is a green tea drink. So if you’reinvited to a tea ceremony, expect nothing else but green tea in theLand of the Rising Sun.It’s no accident then that the most popular variations of green teaemerged from these two Asian countries. Some of these drinks are:

chart of types, origin classification and brief description of green tea in Asia
chart of types, origin classification and brief description of green tea in Asia

You may wonder why green tea is called green. Well, that name actually follows. The first stop, the Camellia Sinensis plant or tea plant, has leaves that are dark green in color. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, when you infuse fresh green tea leaves, you get a liquor that’s green in color. It's logical that people call it green tea.

However, take note that if the tea leaves are not as young, the resulting infusion will turn yellowish in color.

As a result of such a desire to please the market, maximum amounts of antioxidants and polyphenols are retained. In the process, unique taste and aroma have come to the fore.

Basically, there are two basic types of green tea being produced: one grown under the sun and the other grown under the shade. Generally, tea leaves are harvested thrice a year from green tea shrubs grown in rows. These plants are pruned on a regular basis to maximize shoots produced.

Usually, the first flush in spring brings about the best quality tea leaves, a time that usually corresponds to late April and early May. It’s easy to understand then why some green tea variants such as Korea’s sejak are harvested at a specific time of the year. In addition, the second harvest usually happens in June and ends in July. The third picking coincides in late July and early August.

As the first harvest is usually the best, these green tea concoctions also carry a steep price.

Here are some of the many health benefits of green tea, dubbed as the healthiest beverage on the planet today:

Recently, nearly 10 million people succumb to cancer each year. Research indicates that oxidative stress brought about by free radical damage can push the body into chronic inflammation.

Such an inflammation, if left to its own devices, can lead to cancer complications of the body. Unfortunately, we are surrounded every single day by free radicals. Some of these come to invade our bodies through cigarette smoking, exposure to air pollution, exposure to the sun, exposure to x-rays, and industrial chemicals.

The good news is more than any tea on the market today, green tea
has tons of antioxidants or active ingredients that counteract free radical damage. The most active and most abundant of which is the catechin EGCG or epigallocatechin-3-gallate and other polyphenols. As these compounds actively scour and counteract free radicals, they can minimize your chances of developing cancer.

In fact, studies have shown active compounds in green tea have been shown effective in inhibiting tumor cells from proliferating.

Indeed, green tea can help minimize cancer. Some of these are:

If you want to maximize the cancer-fighting ability of green tea, avoid adding milk to the infusion. Studies have shown milk can minimize the antioxidant action of tea.

Catechin compounds in green tea show great protective effects on the neurons of animal brains and in vitro. Drinking green tea regularly could lower your chances of dementia.

So green tea tastes fruitier and would taste more like green grapes or zucchini or fresh cucumber. However, don’t steep it too long as it can get bitter — if not it will go totally bad.

Also, know that green tea has more caffeine compared to black tea. Green tea undergoes the least amount of oxidation so the freshness of the leaves are kept. The fresher, the greater the amount of caffeine.
So if you want to perk up your senses, you can take a sip of green tea instead of coffee. It’s steadier releasing caffeine in a slower fashion while caffeine is mong like a jolt of caffeine. If you want to have more caffeine in tea, check the buds of the tea leaves. The more tea buds, the more caffeine. Young leaves harbor more caffeine than older ones.

If you want a jolt of caffeine from tea leaves, chew on Matcha. Those green leaves should provide the best experience for you, assuming you don’t just drink them.

Still, both Chinese and Japanese green teas are just slightly oxidized.
Indeed, it’s really hard not to be attracted to green tea. All those antioxidants and polyphenols that it brings to the table is essential for anyone. If there’s any tea on your list, at the top of it should sit the freshness of green tea, the mother of all tea.

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