“Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.”
This ancient Chinese proverb sums up the importance of tea in a Chinese diet and as many studies have shown, tea has far-reaching health benefits that make it a great addition to any lifestyle. As the most-studied of the tea types, green tea has been found to be useful in preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, infections, and even tooth decay.
The antioxidants found in tea help fight cancer-causing free radicals and also improve the flexibility of blood vessels, which prevents clogging. Tea can lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind), lower blood pressure, and even aid with weight loss. While drinking tea itself won’t cure you of anything, it acts as the perfect complement to a healthy diet and lifestyle. In fact, a study found that the heart rate of Japanese men is low even though most are smokers, likely due to consuming large amounts of green tea (much like red wine helps the French have fewer cases of heart disease despite a fatty diet). The best way to get the most out of green tea is to drink it and the great news is you can drink as much as you want! Daily consumption suggestions range from 2-10 cups, so 4 or 5 cups is considered a good middle ground.
So what makes green tea different from the rest? Well, each type of tea is categorized based on the processing that the Camellia Sinensis leaves undergo. Green tea leaves are withered and steamed after being plucked, with no oxidization occurring. Since the processing is limited, the antioxidants are more concentrated as compared to black or oolong teas, where they can change to other compounds during oxidation. Only white tea has a higher concentration of antioxidants, so green tea is a powerhouse for staving off cancer.
Green tea can also be used in traditional Chinese medicine, or even cooking. Most tea is consumed as a beverage however, whether brewed fresh in a teapot or prepackaged in a bottle. Tea varieties can vary greatly based on growing conditions (including location), exact processing procedure, and harvesting time. The highest quality teas are loose leaf whole leaf teas, which are sold by weight. The most commonplace teas are what are known as “dusts,” or those finely ground particles you’ll typically find in a cheap teabag. Almost all tea is grown and produced in China (around 80%), so it’s highly likely that you will buy tea that originated from there.
Now that you know how great green tea is, what are you waiting for? Go out there are start drinking it! You may just find that your health improves.
Photo credit to ~Ashwin~