Although it’s been known in places like China and Japan for thousands of years, the green tea sensation is just now sweeping countries in North America and Europe. This tea is now well known and loved for its smooth flavor and incredible benefits. Green tea, in fact, is enjoyed with extra flavors, such as honey and lemon or citrus, as an iced tea drink and steeped and steamed like other forms of tea.
Despite its ever-growing popularity, some people do not fully understand the benefits of green tea or what really justifies all the buzz. The truth is green tea can deliver some serious health-related perks while also offering a light, refreshing flavor that many people have come to adore.
A closer look at green tea, how it’s made and the benefits can help make it clear why this sensation is sweeping the world. No matter how it’s consumed, green tea offers some perks that other beverages simply cannot compete with.
Where Does Green Tea Come From?
Green tea is grown mostly in Asian countries where a plant called Camellia sinensis is from. This particular plant is also used to make many of the black tea varieties that people have enjoyed for thousands of years. Although both teas get their start from the same basic plant, there are some major differences between the two in appearance, flavor and health benefits.
While flavor and appearances are what most people notice between green and black tea, the fundamental benefits of green tea versus black are also very much worth noting. The distinct differences between green and black tea arise from the processing that is involved in making each variety.
What Makes Green Tea Different From Black?
The processing involved in making black and green tea varieties varies rather greatly. The end result is two different kinds of tea from the exact same plant.
Green tea – When the intent is to make green tea from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, the leaves are picked and then steamed or heated almost immediately. These leaves are then dried for tea. Green tea tends to undergo much less processing than other forms of tea. In fact, green tea is considered one of the most pure forms of tea used for human consumption. As it is with many other foods, the lack of processing does make a difference in the nutrients and health benefits attached to the end product.
Black tea – The distinction between green and black tea comes in following the drying process. Unlike green tea leaves that are ready for consumption after drying, black teas also undergo a process known as oxidation. During this extended drying process, unfortunately, many of the nutrients and antioxidants are removed from the tea leaves. While some black teas do boast antioxidant properties, they are hard pressed to rival the benefits of green tea.
The Benefits Of Green Tea
Whether it comes from China, Japan or elsewhere, properly processed green tea can deliver a lot of health benefits. The antioxidants found in green tea are responsible most of the positive effects of this type of tea. Antioxidants are powerful agents that can rid the body of free radicals, which are molecules known to cause cancer and other health-related problems.
Scientific studies have shown the antioxidants in green tea can help prevent a host of conditions including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more.
Green tea’s EGCG antioxidant is also known to be highly effective in the same manner as vitamin C and vitamin E. It is known to help protect cells from serious damage caused by free radicals.
Other benefits of green tea backed up by medical studies include:
Blood sugar lowering – A recent study at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom found that green tea consumption can improve blood sugar readings. The study found that insulin sensitivity was raised by as much as 13% when green tea was consumed on a regular basis.
Fat processing – In the same study at the University of Birmingham, researchers found that fat oxidation rates increased by as much as 17% when green tea was included in diet.
Sources Of Green Tea
Thanks to its rising popularity, green tea is now available in many different forms. Some of the most commonly found on the market include:
Tea bags – Walk into any grocery chain in North America and green tea boxed and bag will be sitting on a shelf. This is one of the most popular ways to consume this type of tea and perhaps one of the easiest. Tea bags however usually contain lower quality tea and you sacrifice quality for convenience.
Iced tea – Ready made green tea drinks are also gaining in popularity. From diet concoctions to sugary confections that are a treat to consume, this type of tea is finding its way into bottled, ready to drink form, as well. Loose leaf tea is also used in the preparation of iced tea and the taste is considered the best by many tea drinkers.
Loose tea – For those who prefer brewing their tea straight from the leaves, this option is widely available. With the addition of yea infusers and tea sacs, loose leaf tea drinkers can enjoy convenience as well as the best tasting tea.
The world of green tea has long been known to the people of the orient. From China and Japan to groceries stores all over North America and beyond this type of tea is enjoying strong popularity at the moment.