Worldwide, the only beverage more popular than green tea is plain water. Asians have traditionally consumed green tea for thousands of years. This is because their experiences have convinced them of its numerous health benefits.
Modern scientific research has also found that green tea consumption is beneficial to people with a variety of health problems. For example: weak digestion, poor blood circulation, arteriosclerosis, poor thyroid function, tooth decay, depression, rheumatism, kidney stones and gall stones, heart problems, and cancer. Furthermore, green tea helps to detoxify your body from a wide range of environmental toxins, including nuclear fallout chemicals.
In addition, green tea is the ideal drink for athletes because it improves mental agility and physical performance. It is also a great drink for pregnant women because of its abundance of trace minerals.
Most scientists attribute green tea’s healthful effects to antioxidants, which are chemicals that help prevent damage to our bodies caused by free radicals (a free radical is a molecule or an atom with an unpaired electron). Polyphenols, natural chemicals found in plants, are our largest food source of antioxidants. Catechins, an especially valuable class of polyphenols, are abundant in fresh tea leaves.
When tea leaves are broken or rolled, the catechins become oxidized; this is commonly called fermentation. Many people prefer fermented tea because it has fewer substances that irritate sensitive stomachs. However, this fermentation of black and oolong teas transforms most of the catechins into different classes of polyphenols, which have fewer health benefits for us.
To realize the potential benefits of green tea, you should avoid using commercial tea bags. Most of which almost invariably contain only dust, bruised leaves, and tiny particles of broken leaves. Fortunately, brewing green tea using loose-leaf tea is a rather simple procedure. In addition to quality leaves, all you need is a teapot (or a strainer for your cup), a cup, and hot water.
You can purchase quality teapots made of porcelain, clay, or glass. Cast iron pots with an enameled interior are also good. Use your teapot only for green tea; clean it by rinsing it with hot water and letting it air-dry.
Tea experts almost invariably recommend spring water for tea. Filtered water freshly drawn from your faucet is a good alternative. Distilled water, however, will cause your beverage to be a bit weak because of its lack of minerals.
If you want to drink green tea, but don’t want the caffeine, pour a little boiled water over your tea leaves. Discard the water after one minute, then brew your tea normally. This will remove more than 80% of the caffeine. But this might not be necessary. Many people who believe that they are allergic to caffeine have no reaction to green tea, which goes through much less processing than coffee and black tea.
You typically should brew green tea using water heated to 170-180 degrees Fahrenheit. Use about two grams of tea leaves for every cup of water. Two grams is about one level teaspoon; one standard cup is five and one-half ounces. You will get a bitter drink if you brew the tea too long. When you brew green tea correctly, it will have a light golden green or yellow color.
To brew your tea:
Warm the teapot and teacups by filling them with hot water.
Boil your water, then let it cool to the temperature you desire.
Empty your teapot, place your leaves in it, then pour the boiled water into the pot.
Brew the tea about two minutes.
You can use the leaves again a couple of times. Another method, especially convenient in your workplace, is to place a strainer inside your cup and brew the tea without a teapot.
Note that loose-leaf tea might not be better than the tea in tea bags. Find a retailer you can trust to sell you quality products. Some research on the internet or in a library will lead you to a tea merchant with an excellent reputation. Which will sell you tea leaves that were grown in clean environments, harvested early in the season, and have few impurities such as pesticides and lead.
Store your tea leaves in airtight containers, such as tea tins or glass jars. Tea’s enemies are light, moisture, and extreme heat and cold (don’t refrigerate or freeze the leaves). If the container is not opaque, store it in a dark place. Properly stored tea will retain its quality for six months or more.
What about polyphenol supplements? Some of them might be beneficial. Some are not. For example: the extraction method has been known to create a toxic product. Also, when researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute created an artificial tea made of the nine major catechins in tea, it had only half the antimutagenic potency of real tea in animal tests.
It is safe to conclude that to obtain the time tested benefits of green tea, you should use the time tested method of brewing in a teapot using quality loose-leaf tea.