Green tea, which is unfermented tea is a popular beverage in many parts of the world, especially in Asian countries like China and Japan. It contains ingredients that promote good health. These ingredients contribute to the prevention of heart diseases, cancer and other life style related diseases, one among them being obesity.
Green Tea is pale yellow or green in color. The leaves are steamed or baked immediately after plucking and then rolled and dried. This tea is made from the buds and young leaves. The process of steaming and baking is what prevents the fermentation or oxidation of the leaves and helps to retain the green color. This also contributes to their antioxidant property.
Green and black tea come from the same plant called ‘camellia sinensis’, but the difference is in the processing procedure. Green tea leaves are boiled and dried and not fermented. The shorter processing time gives the tea a lighter flavor than black tea. This also keeps all the beneficial and health giving chemicals intact. The flavor of green tea is delicate and subtle and is best described as light, with some amount of sweetness, unlike the strong taste of black tea.
- Some of the compounds in Green Tea are:
- Polyphenols, like catechin
- Alkaloids, like caffeine and theobronine
- Amino acids like theanine
- Minerals like manganese and Potassium
Catechin is a polyphenol which has powerful antioxidant properties especially the EGCG (Epigalloacatechin Gallate). Green tea has higher amounts of these polyphenols than regular tea. This, besides being an effective antioxidant, also inhibits growth of cancer cells, helps in lowering LDL cholesterol and halts abnormal formation of blood clots. Catechin also reacts with toxins manufactured by harmful bacteria and metals like cadmium, lead and mercury. The steaming process used in the manufacture of green tea prevents the EGCG compounds from getting oxidized. It has been found that in other teas like the black/regular/oolong teas, the processing converts the EGCG into compounds that have minimal antioxidant effect. Polyphenols also contribute towards the taste of the tea. Flavoroids contributes towards the color.
Benefits of Green Tea:
- Studies have shown that drinking green tea can have a positive effect on the vital organ, can prevent fatigue and improve brain function.
- It helps towards halting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- It’s high antioxidant presence benefits in preventing cancer.
- Prevention of arthritis and multiple sclerosis
- Prevents the degeneration of cell membranes by neutralizing the spread of free radicals.
- It is a potential fat burner. Helps the body to use fat as an energy source by raising metabolism.
- Helps to lower LDL cholesterol. Prevents bad cholesterol formation caused by oxidation
- Is effective for high blood pressure
- Helps to regulate intestinal function
To date, the only negative factor of green tea is the presence of caffeine. Caffeine in green tea has 1/3rd the caffeine as in black tea and less that coffee. Some negative effects can be reduced by drinking light tea.