Note: This is the first in a series of blogs on the science of tea. Learn why is it's good for you, and all about the myriad kinds of tea (we love tea!)
Over 158 million Americans will drink tea on any given day, and it’s obviously the go-to-beverage when plain water won't do. Among those 158 billion tea consumers are green tea aficionados. While only 15% are green tea drinkers, its growth is outpacing all other forms of tea, with a 60% increase in consumption since 2004. Why the crazy growth? Well, green tea has a lot to make you happy about.
A Diverse History
Green tea was discovered in its greenest form over five thousand years ago. While stories vary, some versions of leaf's history have a flower magically falling into a tea cup, while another has an Emperor chewing a leaf imaging how delicious it would be steeped in water. The most important book to set the record straight was Cha Jing, or Tea classic, written around 600 AD. The book detailed exactly how a cup of green tea should be made and how it should be served. Today, green tea is prepared in the exact same way (or should be), and drinking it has multiple health benefits. Green tea is the result of semi-oxidized leaves from camellia sinensis. Flavors and aromas vary greatly depending on the season of harvest, country of origin and method used to process. Flavored green teas are especially popular, according to the Local Tea Company, where the best sellers are Goji Green, Organic Strawberry Smile and Acerola Green Tea. They offer 13 other green teas.
Feel the Power
Green tea is more than just a hydrating beverage that tastes great. The green tea plant contains a bevy of powerful compounds that make it into every cup. Rich in polyphenols (compounds great at reducing inflammation in the body), green tea is a cancer fighting champion. Green tea also contains a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG is one of the most powerful compounds in green tea. Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other cellular protections. Together, these substances help reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals play a large role in aging and many types of diseases. The benefits of green tea are numerous, so it's worth adding to your diet.
Perhaps the best news (and one that may make you happiest), is that green tea accelerates fat burning and boosts metabolic rate. Look at any weight loss supplement, and you will see green tea on the label, that's because green tea is a dynamo for assisting weight loss programs.
But let's not leave out our most important organ, the brain. With an increase in brain-related diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, the brain needs protection, too. The bioactive compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on the brain. They may reduce the risk of dementia, a common neurodegenerative disorder in older adults. Multiple studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in animal studies, possibly lowering the risk of dementia and memory loss.
Green tea consumption around the world is growing, not only for its wonderful taste, but for its endless health benefits. And as science backs up these benefits, it will only grow in popularity. Try to choose a higher caliber brand of green tea, as some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive amounts of fluoride.
What's the best green tea? A great source is the Local Tea Company, featuring locally inspired loose leaf teas. Try their diverse blends of green tea and so many others.