Types of Tea
Teas in its true form, when separated from herbal and flower infusions, are made from the leaves of a magnolia-related evergreen tree with the botanical name of Camellia sinensis . All the tea varieties are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, also known as the tea plant.
Other herbal infusions such as chamomile tea, ginger tea or red tea made of rooibos leaves are excluded as types of tea since the tea plant is not involved in their making. The difference between the four tea variants lies in the process of making them. In addition, each type of tea has its distinct flavor and health benefits. However, Green tea health benefits are distinct.
The four types of tea are notably:
- Black tea
- Green tea
- White tea
- Oolong tea
Each tea type has its own peculiar characteristic in terms of taste, method of preparation, cost and health benefits.
Green tea is unfermented tea meaning that the leaves used for green tea are steamed soon after been plucked in order to prevent the oxidation of the leaves. In this way the leaves remain green and the active substances within the leaves retain their qualities. Black teas on the other hand are made from fermented leaves and as a result have less nutritional and enzyme content as the green tea. Thus green and black teas have different chemical properties.
We shall discuss basically on Green tea health benefits.
Green Tea Planting
A Green tea plant can attain a height of about 10 meters in the wild, on tea plantations; however, the plant is kept as a shrub, constantly pruned to a height of about 1 meter to encourage new growth and for convenient picking.
Tea plants grow only in warm climates but can flourish at altitudes ranging from sea level to 2000 meters. The best teas, however, are produced by plants grown at higher altitudes where the leaves mature more slowly and yield a richer flavor. Depending upon the altitude, a new tea plant may take from 2 ½ to 5 years to be ready for commercial picking, but once productive, it can provide tea leaves for close to a century.
Tea plants produce abundant foliage, a camellia-like flower, and a berry, but only the smallest and youngest leaves are picked for tea: the two leaves and bud at the top of each young shoot. The growth of new shoots, called a flush, can occur every week at lower altitudes but takes several weeks at higher ones. The new leaves are picked by hand by “tea pluckers,” the best of which can harvest per day, enough to make 4.5 kilogram of tea.
Although all tea plants belong to the same species-Camellia sinensis-, local growing conditions (altitude, climate, soils, etc.) vary, resulting in a multitude of distinctive leaves. The way the leaves are processed, however, is even more important in developing the individual characteristics of the four predominant types of tea: green, black, white and oolong.
Processing and Preparation of Green Tea
Green tea and white tea are the least processed and thus provides the most antioxidant polyphenols, notably a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits linked to green tea and white tea. EGCG is the component of green tea that makes it such a healing and advantageous drink. White tea is rarer and more expensive than the other types of teas mentioned above. As earlier mentioned, we shall focus on Green tea because of its availability, affordability and health benefits. Green tea health benefits are best realized when processed properly.
Green tea is made by briefly steaming the just harvested leaves, rendering them soft and pliant and preventing them from fermenting or changing colour. After steaming, the leaves are rolled, then spread out and “fired” (dried with hot air or pan-fried in a wok) until they are crisp. The resulting greenish-yellow tea has a green, slightly astringent flavour close to the taste of the fresh leaf. This is done to get the desired Green tea health benefits.
Green tea has always been, and remains today, the most popular type of tea from China where most historians and botanists believe the tea plant originated throughout all of Asia. This is so because green tea not only captures the taste, aroma and color of spring, but delivers this delightful bouquet along with the highest concentration of beneficial phytonutrients and the least caffeine of all the teas. Green tea health benefits are unique.
Green Tea Health Benefits – Unique Benefits
The key to the amazing green tea health benefits are derived from consuming green tea is that the leaves are steamed which preserves the EGCG compound from being oxidized. Green tea health benefits are unique. Other tea are fermented which breaks down the natural EGCG and takes away from its healing properties.
In fact, green tea has very long and storied history dating back thousands and thousands of years. It can be quite fascinating to know what the Chinese have known for centuries. They are aware of Green tea health benefits.
For the past four thousand years, the Chinese have known about Green tea and its powerful medicinal values. Tea, according to legend, was discovered by a Chinese emperor called Shen Nung. Some tea leaves accidentally fell into boiling water, and he tried it and found it invigorating. Green tea became part of the Chinese diet and many important health benefits were attributed to it. Green tea health benefits are unique when compared to the other types of tea. Now recent medical studies in both Asia and the west are providing a scientific basis for the claim that drinking green tea has very significant health benefits.
Green tea is a real delicious drink which can be served cold or hot no matter the season. However, its benefits outweigh its use as a refreshing drink. It is recommended that drinking two or more glasses of tea a day might really be way better for you than drinking the same sum of water, considering the cancer prevention agents contained in the tea, its re-hydrating and health benefits. The refreshing Green tea health benefit is great.
Modern science has in recent times been able to demonstrate that green tea is beneficial to one’s health and this is mainly due to the fact that tea contains high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols or flavonoids. The antioxidant activity of tea has been compared to that of fruit and vegetables in a number of studies. One study concluded that consuming three cups of tea a day produced a similar amount of antioxidants as eating six apples. One of the great Green tea health benefits is its antioxidant content. Antioxidants help your body fight against free radicals which cause damage to cells and tissues in your body.
While all tea is healthy to drink, it is green tea that contains very high level of flavonoids when compared to black tea. Recent medical studies suggest green tea to be beneficial in many areas including the following: Green tea health benefits include:
- Digestive and respiratory health.
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Boosts your immune system
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Arthritis – anti-inflammatory effect.
- Oral hygiene – due to antibacterial properties.
- Skin conditions such as acne
- Lowers blood sugar
Weight loss is another area that is attracting huge attention. Recently published research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that an extract from green tea may speed up fat oxidation. A study was conducted on ten healthy men over a period of 42 days. It was discovered that those men who were given green tea extract burned more calories per day than those who were not given the extract. Certainly, the results are very encouraging.
Teas have been found to have powerful effects on levels of cholesterol in the blood stream and on your health in general. Green tea in particular can also help in battling cancer. In Japan, it was discovered that drinking green tea daily delays the onset of cancer by some nine years among women and about three years in men.
Japanese and Chinese Teas, among other countries, are source of good green tea. They are delicious teas and contain large amounts of polyphenols and flavonoids (catechins which are also immune system boosters), and natural vitamins and minerals. Another Green tea health benefits is that it contains catechins. Green Tea is rich in catechins, which are antioxidants. Catechins destroy free radicals. Green tea also has carotenoids, chlorophyll, polysaccharides natural vitamins C and E, manganese, potassium, and zinc, all essential to your health. Pure green tea is said to be 100 times more effective than vitamin C from other sources, and 25 times better than vitamin E from other sources.
The best tea variety is said to originate from tea farms protected from pesticides. It is best to drink pure green tea without preservatives or other artificial flavours.
You may find green tea mixed with other medicinal herbs in leading drug stores, but rarely can you find pure green tea sold alone. Green tea is usually sold in tea bags, but modern processing has made possible its liquefied form in bottles, and also its powdered form in sachet packages, without damaging its health and healing benefits.
Green tea health benefits include its micro-nutrients content. Green tea and other natural food supplements carry micro-nutrients that feed your immune system and strengthen your body cells. When the immune system becomes stronger, tissue and cell repair is enhanced in a way that the body retains the ability to heal itself; thus, ailments and even serious diseases are healed. It is not the food supplement itself that heals, but the empowered immune system.
A Japanese monk, Eisai, wrote in 1211 AD that (green) tea is a miraculous medicine for the maintenance of health. “Tea has the extraordinary power to prolong life. Anywhere a person cultivates tea, long life will follow.” Eisai further wrote that tea in general was known as an elixir that created the “immortal” mountain dwellers.
In the 16th century, European explorers were said to have found that tea, especially green tea, was used to treat fever, headache, joint pains, and stomach aches and some other health ailments. Green tea, according to modern nutritionists and herbal medicine experts, can help prevent high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart ailments, skin diseases, and lung ailments. It actually delays the aging process. It eliminates distress by refreshing your mind and body.
The Chinese have known about Green tea as a powerful medication for at least four thousand years.
Green Tea for Emotional Wellbeing
Chinese and Japanese people have known about the benefits of drinking green tea for the body and human emotion for a long time. This can be evident in some of their philosophical sayings concerning tea. One of these sayings is: “the first sip is joy, the second is gladness, the third is serenity, the fourth is fixation and the fifth is ecstasy.”
The high regard that people today have for the green tea is not only because of the fact that it is loaded with antioxidants and thus, good for the body, the high regard for green tea today is also because of the effects it has on one’s emotion. Each sip of green tea has a calming effect on people. It enables poets to write verses. It helps philosophers gain new insights into life. Although various medical bodies may deny the effect of green tea on the body and human emotion, thousands upon thousands of generations of Chinese and Japanese will still attest to the fact that green tea helps.
Studies have also shown that people who do drink green tea have less risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. The antioxidants found in green tea also have the effect of fighting aging. One of the effects of green tea for the body and emotion is that it could act as a virtual fountain of youth. You might not live forever, but you will live pretty damn long.
The benefits of green tea for body and emotion can also be observed in the way that some cultures have a very high regard for it. Take the Japanese tea ceremony, for example. The Japanese consider the tea ceremony ( ) to be the highest demonstration of the art of living.
So whenever you take that commercial green tea, think about this: You are drinking not just for your health, but also for emotional wellbeing.
Side Effects of Green Tea
Caffeine in Tea
In 1827, when black tea caffeine first was discovered, it was thought to be a new substance and was called “theine”. It was found to have effects similar as coffee and in fact, eventually it was found out to be the same caffeine as found in coffee, so the term “theine” was dropped from use.
Black tea, among all the tea types, contains more caffeine than the others. Black tea caffeine has the same effects on the human body as caffeine obtained by drinking coffee. It will speed up reaction time and increase alertness as well as improve overall concentration.
Some studies indicate that caffeine is beneficial in that it improves the performance of the brain and helps to reduce heart disease and other diseases as well. More studies are needed to confirm these conclusions.
Most dieticians continue to warn against consuming large amounts of caffeine since there are known undesirable side effects such as shortness of breath, insomnia, and heart palpitations.
However, there is an advantage to consuming black tea caffeine as opposed to the caffeine found in coffee. The reason is because there is less caffeine overall in a cup of black tea as opposed to coffee. A typical cup of coffee has around 16 mg of caffeine while a cup of black tea might have only 6 – 8 mg. So you could drink a few cups of black tea caffeine and not have the potent effects from one cup of strong coffee.
Compared to other varieties of teas, black tea has the highest caffeine content and is probably due to the way it is processed since it undergoes a full oxidation which gives it a uniquely strong taste.
Green tea and white tea contain the least caffeine. Basically, any food or drink taken in excess most probably has side effects. Consumption of green tea in moderation is the key to reap its quality health benefits.
Fundamentally, consumption of virtually any edible thing in excess is bad, likewise too much consumption of green tea could lead to iron deficiency as have shown in some studies – Clinical Case Reports published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Tea, when consumed in large quantities, may interfere with iron absorption and can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
Recommended Green Tea Quantity
The 2015 Dutch dietary guidelines recommend drinking three cups of tea daily. It is good to keep green tea consumption to moderate amount of 2-3 cups per day. Also, do not exceed the 200 – 300 mg/ml caffeine intake. You can consume decaffeinated green tea but stick to the standard dosage of 2-3 cups of green tea per day.
In summary, green tea, when consumed in moderation, can fight cancer among other health benefits enumerated above. However, when consumed in excess, it may lead to some side effects. You can discuss with your doctor for further dosage confirmation. Green Tea is rich in Catechins, which are antioxidants. The antioxidants in green tea have the effect of fighting aging. Green tea is a quality health drink when taken in the right amount. Green tea health benefits are great. Our additional best picks include: (1) Bigelow Classic Green Tea, (2) Yogi Green tea with super antioxidants, (3) Twinings Green Tea Keurig K-Cups, 48 Count and (4) Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha Green Tea.
Health is wealth!