Green tea is said to have great health benefits and can be considered as an alternate to coffee. It’s also used in fat burner pills. Green tea as well as black tea originates from a plant species – Camellia sinensis – though the preparation method for green tea is different than black tea. The processing method ensures that the end product maintains its color i.e. green for green tea.
Camellia sinensis is the botanical name of the tea plant and has two different varieties which produce all the different types of tea. These can be used to make any type of tea. The only difference in is the processing method.
✓ Camellia sinensis sinensis – The leaves of this variety is small and is mainly produced in China. It grows on mountainous areas and needs mild sunshine and cold air. This variety is used to manufacture green tea.
✓ Camellia sinensis assamica: The leaf of this species is bigger and is grown in Assam region of India & is used to produce black tea .The crop is cultivated in moist climate and warm weather.
Green Tea Manufacturing
The leaves from the plant Camellia sinensis are harvested and are quickly heated using the process of pan firing or steaming. They are then dried enough to ensure that there is not much oxidation, else the leaves will turn brown and the flavor would go off. If the tea leaves are oxidized completely the end product is black tea, so the processing of green tea is of utmost importance. A perfectly brewed green tea is light in color and has a yellow-green appearance.
The taste is also dependent on many other factors like at what time the tea leaves were plucked and from which part of the plant the leaves were from. In fact, the heating temperature as well as leaf size also determines the taste, as well as by the other crops grown around tea plantation as well as the kind of trees that are providing shade to them. The weather can also contributes to the taste!
Green Tea Health Benefits
Green tea is good for health, with the major benefits as follows:
✓ Improves overall health due to the L-theanine antioxidant content
✓ Assists in weight loss & fat burning due to the caffeine content
✓ Can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in bladder, breast, ovary, and colon regions
✓ Keeps the heart healthy by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels
✓ Used in diseases related to gums as it inhibits the growth of bacteria
✓ Used in Parkinson’s disease as it preserves the brain cells and helps in the production of dopamine
✓ Decreases puffiness in the eyes due to the anti-oxidant profile
✓ Promotes glowing skin as green tea inhibits the growth of anti-aging enzyme known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMP.
✓ Increases alertness due to caffeine
Green Tea Side Effects
Green tea has negligible side effects when compared to its rich benefits, although the potential side effects are:
✘ Not recommended for pregnant ladies and breast feeding mothers
✘ Excess consumption leads to constipation due to insoluble compounds
✘ Catechins might lead to liver issues if green tea is consumed in excess
✘ Compounds present in green tea might interfere if you are under medication
✘ Too much of green tea consumption might lead to iron deficiency – excess tannin in the system blocks iron absorption in the body
✘ Too much of green tea starts flushing calcium out from the body in urine leading to osteoporosis
✘ Over consumption leads to insomnia due to caffeine
Green Tea Nutritional Profile
Green Tea is rich in nutritional value, containing polyphenols also known as catechins as the main constituent along with others like tannin, theophylline, caffeine, theobromine, saponins, carotene, vitamin C, vitamins A, K, B1, B12, and potassium, fluoride, iron, magnesium, calcium, strontium, copper, nickel, zinc, and small amounts of molybdenum and phosphorus. Phew!
Green tea contains high levels of anti-oxidants, especially polyphenols, with catechins constituting the maximum percentage of polyphenols. The active catechins are called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) with the other catechin compounds that are present in green tea are catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin gallate, epicatehcin, epigallocatechin.
Researchers have shown that ECCG has anti-aging properties and inhibits the growth of cancer cells. In general, anti-oxidants present in tea are very versatile and help in better digestion and cardiovascular health.
Consumption of green tea has shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels and prevent tooth decay.
Tannin Content in Green Tea
Green Tea also contains Tannins. Tannins are plant product and are a group of simple and complex polyphenols, flavonoids and phenol compounds and studies have shown that flavonoids may protect against certain types of infection.
Green tea has a compound called L-theanine which is an amino acid that has a slight sweeter taste. L-theanine helps in the formation of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which is involved in taking care of serotonin levels and helps in increasing alpha levels in the brain. L-theanine is also known to provide a better sleep to individuals and relaxes the body.
Caffeine Content in Green Tea
Green tea contains caffeine but a much lower level compared to coffee. A cup of green tea might contain 30-50 mg of caffeine – this varies depending on the cultivation method. Green tea helps in fat loss and boosts metabolism owing to caffeine. Researchers have proved that caffeine is very good for fat burning and it does promote focus and energy in the body, which is why caffeine constitutes an integral part of stimulant based fat burners.
Caffeine has some side effects if it’s over consumed, though green tea contains ECCG and L-Theanine that reduce the harmful effects of caffeine and make a green tea safer for consumption. Researchers have proved that it’s safe to consume up to 8 cups of green tea per day to harness its benefits.
Mineral Content in Green Tea
Green tea is rich in vitamins and minerals with a good amount of vitamin C and water soluble Vitamin B. Consumption of 5-6 cups of Green tea provides 10% of the daily requirement of folic acid, niacin and pantothenic acid & riboflavin considering a 2000 calorie diet for an individual.
The same quantity also contains magnesium, manganese and potassium that contribute roughly around 5%, 45 %, and 25 % of daily requirement respectively.
Researchers have proved that green tea contains around 450 organic compounds. Green tea doesn’t contain fat thus has 0 calories from fat.
Consumption of green tea 3-4 times a day is beneficial and safe, and should be consumed without any sugar or milk for maximum potency. 2-3 cups of green tea contain around 240-340 mg of polyphenols, the ideal amount of antioxidants per day.
Don’t consume green tea on an empty stomach as it can cause indigestion. The ideal consumption should be post meals and before a workout for maximum results.
Green tea is available in different flavors which sometimes have added sugars, so be sure to read the label. It can have a bitter taste but adding flavors like ginger, basil, lemon, and rose improves the nutritional profile and taste. However, if you really can’t stand the taste of green tea, it’s also available as green tea extract in supplement form for the same benefits.