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Green tea has a history stretching back to ancient times, and more recently has been enjoying something of a renaissance. It is more popular today than ever. Though essentially nothing more than a humble selection of leaves, the power tea has over our health is something which fascinates health gurus and researchers alike. From cancer preventative antioxidants to mind improving compounds, there are many nutritional quirks to drinking green tea that can have an immediate, positive affect on our lives.

But does green tea deserve its reputation? Allow me to take you through a closer look with my Green Tea 101.

What is green tea?

wooden scoop of dried loose leaves: history of green tea

Green tea is made from camellia sinensis leaves that have been treated with the same withering and oxidation process with which black teas and oolong teas are made. Originating in China, its growth, production and manufacture has since spread to many other Asian countries.

Types

There are many types of green tea. Each differ quite considerably from one another, based on a number of factors. These include the type of camellia sinensis leaves used, the conditions and methods used for growing the plants, the production process, and the time of the harvest. However, though there are many types of green tea in existence, ten commonly seen types stand out from the others:

Sencha

Sencha is the most commonly drunk type of green tea in Japan. Sencha is made from newer leaves taken in the harvest’s fir flush, those that have had less time to photosynthesise. As a result, they have greater mineral and Vitamin C content, as they have not used it all up in growing.

 

Bancha

Bancha is made from the second harvest of leaves after the first flush has been collected for Sencha. Bancha leaves are usually picked in three cycles between June and October, with the earlier leaves being the most desirable of the harvest.

 

Tencha

Tencha does not go through the rolling process that other tea leaves undergo. The larger leaves release high levels of nutrients, minerals and vitamins as a result. Tencha is one of the better green tea varieties for boosting basal metabolic rates. As the leaves release high levels of natural caffeine, Tencha is also great for boosting energy.

 

Matcha

Matcha is a powdered form of Tencha tea and is most famous for its use in traditional, formal Japanese tea ceremonies. It is an appetizing bright green colour and provides a very large nutrient payload.

 

Gyokuro

Gyokuro owes its popularity in part to its being one of the naturally sweeter green tea varieties. The sweetness comes from high levels of theanine, an amino acid formed by shading the tea leaves as they grow, about three weeks prior to harvest.

 

This process also grants Gyokuro high levels of caffeine and chlorophyll: these ingredients stimulate the brain and nervous system, as well as aiding in healthy skin and tissue growth.

 

Konacha

You may have had this one at sushi restaurants, where it is typically called ‘agari.’ Konacha is made from the pieces of tea buds filtered out in the process of making Gyokuro and Sencha.

 

It is known for its strong aroma. Its nutrient profile is not the strongest, and the health benefits are less than with other green teas, but it has a bold flavour and works well as an accompaniment with any meal.

 

Funmatsucha

This is a great tea to drink when you’re feeling run down, as it contains more antioxidants than most other teas. It also provides a natural caffeine kick and gives a sweet, dense taste. Powdered Funmatsucha mixed with hot water is a common, traditional remedy for various illnesses.

 

Genmaicha

Genmaicha is a medium grade Sencha mixed in with roasted brown rice. The rice gives the brew a grainer, thicker flavour and can be very soothing to the stomach after a rich meal.

 

Fukamushicha

These leaves go through the same process as Sencha. However, once the Sencha leaves have been removed, the Fukamushicha leaves are left: in total, they are steamed for up to four times as long as the Sencha leaves.

 

This process causes the brew’s colour to be darker due to oxidation and the removal of moisture, but it retains a delicious, rich taste. Fukamushicha can be drunk in large quantities and has a soothing effect on the stomach.

 

Kukicha

Kukicha is made of the remains left over from the production of Matcha, Sencha and Gyokuro teas. This means that it comes from the better, first flush harvest, but is made from the mixed stem and stalk remains. It has a light, fragrant flavour and that is highly conducive to relaxation.

A brief history of green tea

Green tea can trace its origins all the way to the third millennium BCE in China. The discovery came about in 2737 BCE and, as the story goes, occurred when the Chinese Emperor Shennong drank water by mistake that had been boiled with a dead tea leaf in it. The emperor found the flavour refreshing: and so, a new drink was created!

Green tea was initially incredibly expensive, however, and was considered a delicacy only available to the top echelons of Chinese society. It was only later, in the 14th century CE that green tea first became accessible to the general public, who used it both for enjoyment and adapted into traditional medicines.

During the Tang Dynasty, around 800 CE, a book entitled ‘Cha Jing’ (‘The Classic of Tea’) was published, written by a Chinese man named Lu Yu. As a young boy, Lu Yu was adopted by a Buddhist monk and he grew up brewing and serving tea for the monk’s guests. His interest in tea grew in adulthood and he decided to thoroughly research it. He collated the knowledge he gathered into his book, explaining both the culture and the art of growing and brewing green tea.

two glass mugs of green tea for weight loss

Green tea proved popular with Europeans in time. In the 19th century, European explorers brought it back and Western society embraced it. Because of its lovely flavour and the energy giving caffeine it contained, it was a huge commodity: it soon became the national beverage of Great Britain, alongside the stalwart black tea. Soon after its introduction to European circles, it was taken to America by settlers in the New World.

Of course, the rest is, as they say, history. The British Parliament imposed a Tea Tax in 1767. The colonists were understandable upset, and the Boston Tea Party resulted: 45 tons of green tea was dumped into Boston Harbour and one of the pivotal steps was taken towards the American War of Independence (1775- 83.)

Over the last few decades, green tea has steadily enjoyed a renaissance as its popularity has increased. Many fashionable new coffee shops will serve a multitude of beverages based on green tea: iced matcha and green chai lattes had become the norm. In addition to its popularity due to its taste, a great deal of research has been looking at the health giving antioxidant properties of the humble brew.

My top facts about green tea

These stories from history are just the beginning, however: green tea has many surprises yet to give, and my top facts about the brew go through just a few of these:

  • Green tea is known for being slightly bitter at times. This is due to the presence of tannins, a type of antioxidant that it very good for you and in which green tea is abundant.
  • As I will go into in more detail below, people who regularly drink green tea are less likely to fall prey to common bacterial and viral infections. This is because the antioxidants in the tea help to boost the body’s natural immune system.
  • Green tea is often touted by weight loss experts for its fat burning property. Good news: this isn’t all just hype! Studies have shown that people who regularly drink green tea burn an average of 70-100 calories more per day. This is down to the polyphenols inherent in its make up. As well as the metabolic boosting properties of green tea, you can drink it without worrying about calories: it contains zero!
  • Green tea can also help in the reduction of cholesterol levels. The human body contains both good and bad types of cholesterol. Green tea improves the balance of good versus bad.
  • According to a study by Dr. Yoshihiro Kokubo, a researcher with Japan’s National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Centre, regular consumption of green tea can help to lower the risk of having a stroke. His research revealed that drinking 2-3 cups per day could reduce the risk of stroke by up to 14 percent. Alongside this, green tea can also benefit the body’s cardiovascular system, as it helps to prevent blood from clotting internally.

loose leaf green tea and brewing tongs

Green tea and weight loss

Can you believe the hype surrounding green tea and weight loss? Let’s take a look:

Green tea as a fat burner

Green tea leaves are abundant in many different, beneficial chemical compounds. Of these, caffeine is a major player. Although a cup of green tea contains around a fifth of the amount of caffeine of a cup of coffee, it still contains enough for there to be a mild effect.

Caffeine is well known as a stimulant. It has been found to aid in fat burning due to its effect on the body’s metabolic rate and is known to improve performance in exercise. For these reasons alone, green tea should be considered a useful tool in weight loss.

However, there is more. Green tea’s strength comes in the form of its antioxidant content. Studies show that drinking green tea regularly increases the amount of antioxidants in your bloodstream. Specifically, green tea delivers antioxidants called catechins, of which the most important is a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG can help to boost the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Green tea and fasting

Another way in which green tea can be useful as a weight loss aid is in its ability to inhibit appetite. This would mean that you would naturally want to consume fewer calories without really trying to. It’s a win, win, right?

Possibly. Studies have produced some conflicting results on the effects green tea has on the appetite.

In general, when planning to contribute green tea’s effects into your weight loss regime, it might be worth doing so primarily for its fat burning properties, rather than as an appetite suppressant. It does indeed often seem to boost the body’s BMR, but has little noticeable effect on the amount of food that tea drinkers consumer throughout the day.

Green tea and detoxing

Green tea might be a useful tool for those looking to detox. However, it might not be in the way you think. Your body is already quite efficient at detoxifying and getting rid of harmful substances by itself: this is a vital part of our evolution, considering how many toxins we come across day to day.

Green tea does not actively detoxify the body on its own- and it has no real need to.

However, green tea is full of naturally occurring, helpful polyphenols. These compounds support the body’s pre-existing detox system.

Polyphenols have two jobs in this regard. First, they impact the human liver directly, aiding its normal function. As the liver is the main organ in your detox arsenal, this is of course very useful. Secondly, polyphenols are antioxidants and they fight free radicals.

Free radical molecules are so unstable that they need to be removed before they can cause any damage to healthy skin: getting rid of these will be one of the main focuses of any detox.

green tea health benefits infographic

Infographic from visual.ly

The health benefits of green tea

So, as we have seen, there are a number of health benefits to regular green tea consumption, from weight loss to detox. However, does the story end there?

No it doesn’t: there are plenty more health benefits to consuming green tea. Below are my six top ways in which green tea can pull its weight in the health department:

It improves and helps to maintain healthy brain function

Whilst stimulants like caffeine can help to keep your brain alert, they are also helpful in making it function better in general. The low caffeine content present in tea, relative to stronger beverages like coffee, provide enough stimulation, whilst not coming with the jittery after effects known to all coffee lovers.

 

Caffeine’s main action in the brain is to block adenosine receptors. This allows neurons to fire for a lot longer than they otherwise would be able, hence an increase in brain activity. This leads to improved concentration and memory, among other things.

 

Caffeine is not the only star player here, however. Green tea delivers the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine has a relaxing effect on the brain, whilst concurrently increasing feelings of alertness. This is a potent force to combine with the effects of caffeine, leading to a marked increase in brain function.

 

This is for the short term, however, getting you through that long, Friday afternoon or allowing you to study harder for that awful upcoming exam. But what about the long term benefits to the brain of regular green tea consumption?

 

Well, good news: recent studies have shown that green tea consumption may protect your brain in the long term to such an extent that it can even help to stave of such diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

 

The antioxidant catechins in green tea can have protective effects on your brain’s neurons.

 

Green tea can lower your risk of various cancers and diseases

Several clinical studies in recent years have shown that both green teas and black teas may help to protect your body against cancer. The suggestion is that the polyphenols in tea play a big part- as one might expect of such potent antioxidants. Researchers believe that these polyphenols help to prohibit the growth of cancer cells, and to kill those that do form.

 

Oxidative damage is a large contributor to the development of cancer. Antioxidants, such as those found in such abundance in green tea, have a protective effect.

 

The polyphenols in green and black tea have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumours in both animal and laboratory studies, according to the National Cancer Institute. However, the exact mechanics by which tea achieves this is yet to be made certain.

 

Green tea can lower your risk of type II diabetes

Type II diabetes is on the rise at an unprecedented rate, currently affecting millions of people all over the globe. However, it is almost totally preventable. It is usually easily reversed in its earlier stages by a strict clampdown on sugar intake.

 

Diabetics lose their sensitivity to insulin. This means that insulin is less effective at signalling relevant cells to absorb the sugar from the bloodstream. This results in higher blood sugar levels alongside higher blood insulin.

 

High blood sugar and insulin levels are damaging to the cardiovascular system. Over time, the presence of these high levels has an antagonistic effect. Green tea can depress and help your body to stabilize your blood sugar (glucose) levels, as well as improving insulin sensitivity.

 

A study conducted found that those who drank higher amounts of green tea had, on average, a significantly lower risk of developing type II diabetes. This has been backed up by subsequent studies.

 

Green tea helps to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system

Cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and hypertension are the most prevalent causes of death in the world. Studies have shown that drinking green tea can mitigate some of the main risk factors for these diseases. These include helping to regulate and decreases total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

 

Green tea significantly increases the amounts of antioxidants in your blood. This helps to protect LDL cholesterol molecules from becoming oxidised, thus eliminating one of the main causes of heart disease.

 

Studies have also shown that people who regularly consume green tea and black tea are at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers have gone so far as to claim that the rate of heart attack is significantly diminished by the consumption of just a few cups of tea per day.

 

Green tea is also advocated on the grounds of its status as a physical performance enhancer: it can help to increase exercise endurance. There are many studies that show that this is true of caffeine in general. However, the antioxidants in green tea may also help in the prevention of tissue damage during hard exercise.

 

Green tea can help to fight infection and illness

Green tea contains antiviral and antibacterial bioactive compounds. Green tea can therefore kill oral bacteria, giving you a nice, fresh mouth. More than this, however, is what it can do for your bloodstream. The same mechanisms can also inhibit bacteria and viruses in your blood, alongside helping to fight against bacterial and viral infections via your nasal passage.

 

What does this mean? Green tea may help to prevent colds and flu. If you do catch a cold, or come down with the flu, green tea can also help to alleviate the systems.

 

Green tea helps to maintain healthy, young looking skin

Green tea’s antioxidant levels help to prevent wrinkles and other signs of ageing. The antioxidants fight free radical damage, from which many signs of ageing occur. As well as this, green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties can help to mitigate damage to you skin from the sorts of harmful, everyday environmental stressors that we all go through.

 

Green tea can also help to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis. It reduces the redness and irritation because of its anti-inflammatory properties and infection fighting compounds. It has also been shown to help with the reduction in redness that comes as a result of rosacea.

 

The polyphenols in green tea that I talked about earlier, especially the aforementioned EGCG, have been shown to have a strong effect on the support of skin cells and cellular DNA exposed to harmful sunlight. ECGCs help promote the skin’s natural defences against harsh sunlight. Regularly drinking green tea or taking a green tea supplement (more on these later) can perform as supplementary defence.

Decaf vs regular green tea

So, we now know a little more about the possible health benefits of drinking green tea. However, as mentioned above, one of the key aspects of green tea is its caffeine content. For those of you worried about your caffeine intake, this might come as a slight concern. However, this leads us to a question: which is better for you, decaf or regular green tea? And how extensive is the caffeine intake from both?

You will generally find about 35 mg of caffeine in an eight ounce cup of green tea. This is roughly half the amount of caffeine you will find in black tea. However, it is of course still more significant than the amount that you would find in decaffeinated tea (which typically still contains somewhere between 2-10 mg of caffeine per cup.)

So, green tea has less caffeine in it than regular, builders’ brew, but decaffeinated black tea has even less still.

But what if you prefer less caffeine in your green tea, and what does the decaffeinating process do? Well, the decaf process will remove some of the antioxidants from your tea. The amount of flavanols, which are a type of polyphenol antioxidant (see above) is greatly reduced in decaf tea. Research into the topic has shown that flavanol content varied between 21 to 104 milligrams per gram for regular teas, and from about 4 to 40 milligrams per gram for decaffeinated teas- a marked reduction.

Another study conducted in 1994 stated that decaffeinated tea was less effective than caffeinated tea at inhibiting skin tumours in mice, once more showing a marked reduction in healthcare efficacy.

So, by all means pick decaffeinated teas if you prefer to limit your caffeine intake. However, when you do, just be aware that many of the other health benefits are removed alongside the caffeine.

different types of green tea: bowl of loose leaves on a wooden table

Green tea buyer’s guide

By now, you have hopefully decided whether or not green tea is worth looking at for incorporation into either your diet or your supplement regime. But you still need to know what to look for when you’re buying your stash of tea. Luckily, I have a list of things to look out for when purchasing green tea:

Look for the antioxidant content of the tea before choosing

The main antioxidant you’ll find in green tea, the above mentioned epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) will vary quite widely between brands. Make sure to compare a few different brands of green tea for EGCG levels, and bear it in mind when deciding which one to go for.

 

If you can, go for loose leaf tea

OK, so it’s not the most convenient way to make yourself a brew. However, as above, EGCG levels are important, and there is a general correlation between high EGCG levels and loose leaf tea. Bags just don’t tend to contain as much.

 

AVOID added sugars

A great many iced tea varieties of green tea add a lot of sugar to their beverages- that healthy alternative to soda contains near enough the same amount of glucose as your typical cola. This means unnecessary calories and an offset to the great insulin benefits I talked about earlier. If you want a bit of sweetness to your iced tea, try making it yourself with a natural, lower glucose alternative like syrup or vanilla essence.

 

Make sure the tea is fresh

Green tea will typically only have a shelf life of around six months, after which its freshness- and nutrient profile- will begin to diminish. Of course, you can extend this using refrigeration, but it is always better to buy fresh to begin with.

 

The flavour will be something else, too, if you get some fresher leaves.

 

Go organic in your tea choices

If you make sure to buy organic green tea you can avoid the inevitable contamination brought about by pesticides and other nasty chemicals. Some inorganic green tea leaves- especially those imported from China- have been found in recent years to be contaminated with low levels of lead.

 

To avoid tangling with this kind of contamination, make sure the green tea you buy, in whatever form, is organic. The difference is more profound here than with a lot of products, and the extra money it may cost you is surely worth it.

How to prepare your green tea

The way you brew your green tea can make a great difference to the flavour, as these videos show. Tea leaves can bring a great, fresh flavour, but tea bags are the more convenient option.

Preparing green tea

Make sure to that the water is not too hot – as the above video shows, allowing two minutes between boiling and pouring will stop the tea from growing bitter. Then, leave it for a couple of minutes before enjoying.

Preparing matcha green tea

Matcha, powdered tea can be a little more involved, but is worth the extra effort. As the above video shows, it is easy enough to do when you know what to do, and when you have the right kit. Then, you should end up with a lovely, smooth, slightly thicker brew that will deliver the perfect taste and texture.

The best times to drink green tea

Of course, we all drink tend to drink our cups of tea when we want a cup of tea… obviously. However, some times are more optimal than others when it comes to drinking green tea. Read on for the best times of day to drink green tea, in order to get the most out of the potential benefits.

Don’t drink your green tea too early in the morning

The thought of a good dose of caffeine gets a lot of us out of bed in the morning. However, with green tea, it is best to hold until a little while after breakfast. Drinking green tea on an empty stomach can have some ill needed effects on the liver: its high catechin contents is an issue. The amount of green tea therefore needs to be controlled relative to other foods and drinks.

 

Drink green tea in the morning at around 10am- no earlier!

 

Drink green tea between your meals

A cup of green tea between meals will go down nicely. First, it will stop the above issues with catechins from becoming apparent. Second, drinking two hours or so before or after a meal will help to maximise the nutrient intake and iron absorption of your diet.

 

Drink green tea pre-workout

As I have mentioned above, green tea is a great fat burner. It also allows you to last longer at physical exertion and gives you an energy boost. All these add up to a great drink to have just before exercising.

 

Drink green tea about two hours before bedtime

Obviously, because of its high caffeine content, it is not advisable to drink green tea right before bed, as it will disturb your ability to sleep properly. The amino acid L-theanine, as mentioned above, improves alertness and allows you to stay awake and concentrating longer than usual.

 

Not a good mix just before bed.

 

However, if you drink green tea two hours before you go to bed, it will aid in increasing your BMR very effectively. This is a time of day at which your BMR is near its lowest, so the effects of the green tea will be more profound.

Alternative ways to consume green tea

Though the obvious way to consume green tea is the traditional one- using the leaves to brew hot tea- it is far from being the only one. There are some more modern, interesting ways to use it: green tea leaves are a far more versatile commodity than you might have initially imagined.

Below are listed several other ways to get green tea into your diet:

Food

As you will see in my recipes section below, green tea is becoming a culinary favourite. As a flavouring, it brings a deep, almost bitter warmth to any dessert, and as a colouring it gives you a beautiful, avocado green that looks wonderfully appetising.

 

Smoothies

Steep a green tea bag for 2 minutes in a cup of water. Remove the bag and allow the tea to cool. Then simply add some vegan milk substitute (I recommend almond or coconut) and your favourite fruits into a blender, alongside either syrup or sugar, and blend until almost smooth. Try adding ice cubes at the end and continue to blend until very smooth.

 

Juice

Allow green tea to cool as you would for the above smoothie. When it is cool enough, add your favourite fruit juice, some ice cubes and perhaps some diced pieces of fruit- pineapple and apple work particularly well.

 

Supplements

These come in tablet form and can be ideal to help with your weight loss goals. As I mentioned above, there is evidence to suggest that supplementing with green tea, or including it in your diet, can help aid weight loss when combined with a calorie controlled diet and exercise.

 

There is no ‘miracle’ weight loss pill, but green tea extract tablets are a sure-fire way of helping you towards your goals! These tablets are produced in a way in which each dose contains 40% polyphenols.

 

Smoking

Yes, people smoke green tea leaves!

 

With regards to safety, some argue that tea smoke is not harmful to the lungs, as the free radicals & damaging molecules are offset by green tea’s protective antioxidant properties. It is likely not as bad as smoking tobacco, but that’s no reason to start smoking any time soon. There are safer, more pleasant ways to include green tea in your diet – many of which are mentioned in this article.

 

It has been reliably reported that smoking tea does not get you high. However, you would be inhaling carbon monoxide which can make you lightheaded.

Green tea recipes

We’ve looked at the history and the science, and we’ve looked ways to prepare the perfect brew, but green tea is more versatile than you might imagine. It is becoming more and more popular as an ingredient in fine dining, and should be a definite must for you to try in your own home cooking. Below are some of my favourite contemporary green tea recipes, showcasing a range of different uses:

Raw matcha cheesecake bars

vegan matcha cheesecake bars

This list will be very dessert heavy, as green tea makes a wonderful addition to any sweet dish. Nothing quite exemplifies this like vegan green tea cheesecake. These vegan raw matcha cheesecake bars are a clean, light and nutritious snack, oozing with creamy textures and rich flavours. There are no-bake, too, so should be quick and easy to whip up for any event.

Green tea coconut ice cream

Ice cream made with green tea in tiny white bowls

When you took the plunge to commit to a plant based diet, did you think you had kissed goodbye to ice cream forever? With this green tea coconut ice cream, there is no need at all to miss out. It contains both coconut and almond milk, which come together in a thick and creamy base, whilst syrup and dates hit the high notes deliciously (the recipe uses honey, but any syrup will work perfectly.) Finishing it off with green tea gives you a bold flavour and enticing colour.

Matcha latte

vegan matcha latte recipe

There is no cast in iron rule that says that you have to drink green tea as a tea: matcha lattes, as I mentioned above, are becoming a staple of any high end, swanky coffee bar. If you fancy a treat at home, it’s easy enough to make with this naturally sweetened recipe.

Matcha tiramisu

vegan matcha tiramisu recipe

I think we’ve got space for one more dessert… right? This vegan tiramisu uses green tea infused cake, vegan mascarpone made with cashews, and a wonderful green tea syrup to soak the cake. The recipe calls for a little whisky for that boozy punch, but this can either be switched out for your preferred alcohol or skipped altogether. Honestly, this one is good.

Downsides to green tea

As with many ingredients, there are some noted downsides to green tea that can possibly arise for certain people.

Green tea is safe for most adults to consume, as a drink, in moderate amounts. However, it has been noted that for some people, green tea can lead to digestive complaints. If you begin drinking green tea- or taking it in supplement form- and you begin to have stomach issues, it is best for you to decrease your intake, or stop altogether.

In very rare cases, green tea and green tea extracts have been reported to cause problems in the liver and kidneys.

Long term, or drunk or taken in high enough quantities, green tea and/or green tea extracts can have side effects because of their caffeine content. The side effects can include: headaches, dizziness, nervousness, irritability, IBS and related symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea, and heartburn, among others. Toxicity can also occur in extremely rare cases when the quantity consumed is sufficient.

As such, it is advisable that people suffering with any kind of caffeine sensitivity approach green tea with a degree of caution. Of course, if any of these symptoms appear when you drink green tea, it is best to remove it from your diet.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, green tea is safe enough in small amounts (2 cups or so per day). This amount will typically deliver about 200 mg of caffeine, which is within reasonable bounds. However, it is not recommended that this amount be exceeded: due to its caffeine content, consuming more than two cups of green tea per day has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and other negative side effects.

In women who are nursing, the caffeine can pass from the mother to the child, which can affect them.

There is a large range of medications and unprescribed drugs that can perhaps interact with green tea: if you are on any medicines, or taking any drugs, it is always best to consult a relevant medical practitioner if you are concerned about green tea intake. Similarly, if you experience any of the above complaints, it is best to talk to your doctor immediately.

matcha green tea in a bowl with brewing brush

Storing green tea

It’s generally quite easy to tell whether or not your tea is fresh: fresh green tea smells very green, almost grassy. You should be able to breath in and feel like you’re out in the fields. If it smells smoky or mouldy, on the other hand, it will be very apparent and you will know that it needs to be replaced- a lack of freshness generally translates to a much diminished antioxidant payload, alongside a sub-par flavour.

Tea leaves are readily oxidised when exposed to air. Some types are more susceptible to this than others, but all will fare poorly from being left out. Generally, storing green tea leaves in an environment in which they are readily oxidised will first deplete them of their Vitamin C stores, and then the catechins that I mentioned above will start to oxidise. The colour of the leaf will change and the smell will lose the freshness mentioned above.

To retain your leaves’ freshness, store them in an airtight, sealed container in the fridge. For added measure, make sure that the container is opaque, so that no light can get in to affect your green tea. Resealable bags come highly recommended, as you can squeeze out the air from them before storing.

With that, your green tea leaves should last a good while, making sure that you can keep following the advice of this article and use them as often as you see fit, for whatever you see fit.

Green tea supplements

There are a range available, with the most common ways of supplementing green tea being:

Green tea capsules and green tea powder

The most convenient to use by far are capsules, as you can just add them to your current vitamins and/or supplement regime. However, if you are looking to make smoothies, or are a gym buff looking for a way to add more of a healthy punch to your protein shake, green tea powder can be a great addition. Simply blend it in with everything else and enjoy.

However, as with all supplementation, they are usually to a greater or lesser degree a pale imitation of the real thing. By all means, use green tea supplements to aid in the above conditions and functions, but remember that nothing quite matches up to eating the whole food (or drinking the whole drink, in this case!)

Green tea 101…done!

And that’s it for green tea for now. I’ve hopefully covered everything for you in enough detail, and hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two about these super little leaves. Their status as antioxidant providers par excellence is well deserved, and the caffeine hit given by them, when used correctly, can do wonders for you.

Green tea is also more versatile than you might have initially imagined: whilst drinking it in a traditional brew is still a very good, delicious way to consume it, there are other (often sweeter!) options available.

However you decide to incorporate green tea into your diet or supplement regime, why don’t you let us know what works best for you?

Don’t forget to share in the comments down below.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Dixon lives, works, and trains in Glasgow, Scotland.
 
He is an active freelance health and fitness writer, fully qualified personal trainer and veggie athlete. He holds several black belts and is currently training in both strength/barbell athletics and kickboxing. He has had an interest in animal welfare all his life, having been raised vegetarian, and has trained numerous athletes on plant based diets to great effect in recent years. Writing on vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and training is a passion for him.

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