Everybody is well aware that green tea is tremendously beneficial. But do you know why and what is the difference between green tea and black tea, or any other colour tea for that matter? Surely tea just grows on a tea bush and the leaves are picked. All tea leaves look green to us. So what is it all about and why the hype around green tea?
Well let’s start at the beginning. Essentially, there is no difference between black tea and green tea, they are the same. They both come from the same tea bush, it is only what happens after the leaves are picked that makes the difference. In fact, all tea leaves are till date picked by hand as the leaves are too delicate for any machine method of harvesting.
The tea leaves, once picked, go through a process, before the tea is available for use in our tea pots. The process for green tea is very different from other black teas. In simple terms, all tea leaves after plucking are laid out to dry, a process known as withering. After this process, the green and black tea go off in different directions. The black tea is allowed to wither longer and then rolled before heating. By contrast, the tea designated as green, will be implicitly heated much quicker essentially arresting the fermentation process. It is the fermentation process that turns the green tea leaves black. So basically, black tea is fermented and green tea is not. Green tea often has a grassy taste and not to everybody’s liking, unless it is flavoured.
Of course, there is a lot more to the tea making process than how previously described, this little information, however, is enough for our primary understanding. Essentially green tea ends up with far less caffeine than black tea, about half in fact. So if caffeine is a problem for you, green tea should be your tea of choice.
Tea bushes and the area in which they grow also add considerably to the flavour. As a parallel, tea connoisseurs treat the development and testing of teas almost the same way that wine connoisseurs treat their wines.
According to tea connoisseurs, only the finest and freshest tea is best to drink and enjoy. Point to note is, all high quality teas are loose leaved and should be stored in air tight containers. But it’s not possible to have loose leaved tea always and tea bags make for convenience. If you are alarmed at the price of tea, a clever tip is to ask for a sample first. Most reputable tea suppliers will be happy to provide with different samples. Remember, a little tea goes a long way.
Both green as well as black tea are salutary since they have many health benefits. Drinking 5 – 6 cups throughout the day is ideal. In fact you can drink much more than this. I could easily pass as a ‘tea-totaller’ since I relish my tea all the time.
Green tea surpasses other teas
Green tea contains far more health-giving ingredients such as antioxidants, polyphenols and a particular type of catechin called EGCG as compared to black tea. Catechin is a type of natural phenol and antioxidant. The fermentation process used in the making of black tea considerably reduces the effectiveness of its healthy ingredients. Green tea, in accordance, retains by far the healthiest ingredients transcending any other tea.
Green tea is a storehouse of antioxidants. These antioxidants prevent free radical damage that can lead to early ageing. This is one of the main health claims made for tea in general and green tea in particular. Many health experts also support that regular tea drinkers have less chance of developing diabetes. To add to its innumerable benefits, green tea leaves also contain fluoride which has been shown to prevent tooth cavities. Green tea is also one of the few sources of the amino acid L-theanine which boosts the immune system and helps maintain mental alertness.
The milky chai loaded with sugar or artificial sweetener is the most conventional and popular form of tea consumed in India. For those who find green tea unpalatable can make it scrumptious by consuming it with milk and some form of sweetener. Also, one could swap their regular chai with this healthy variant. Also, sugar could be switched with honey; this will combine the benefits of green tea along with wholesome honey.
The UK Tea Council advocates that 4 – 5 cups of green tea a day can add significant amounts of the following nutrients:
- Approximately 17 per cent of the recommended intake of calcium
- 5 per cent of zinc
- 22 per cent of vitamin B2
- 5 per cent of folic acid
- 5 per cent of vitamins B1 and B6
A well-made cup of tea also contains manganese, which is essential for general physical development and potassium which helps to maintain the body’s fluid balance.
When you think of green tea, you would assume it originates from China. Green tea is actually produced in all the areas as well as in every country where black tea is produced. There are many different names that green tea is known as, such as:
Green teas from China
Gunpowder, Long Jing [Dragon well], Pi Lo Chun [Green Snail Spring], Snowy Mountain Jian, Hyson Lucky Dragon, Kai Hua Long Ding, Tian Mu Qing Ding, Xin Yang Mao Jian, Hou Kui.
Green teas from Japan
Gyokuro, Sencha, Bancha, Matcha, Houjicha, Kukicha, Genmaicha.
Green teas from India
Assam, Tulsi, Darjeeling, Mehrab, Himalayan Amrit.
There are of course many other names and variants of green tea.
Since the human body requires 2 – 4 litres of water per day and tea is 99.9 per cent water a few cups of tea a day can help to maintain proper hydration of your body.
A number of studies investigating the relationship between tea drinking and heart diseases, have concluded that drinking both green and black tea helps protect one against heart diseases.
Whilst it is obvious that teas of all types, particularly green teas, are paramount beneficial to health—teas are not the magical elixirs that will cure your ills and drop all your weight off instantly.
Green tea, like all other substances and food, need to be used in conjunction with other good health practices and not in isolation. Good health comes from a healthy lifestyle which includes all that you put in your mouth and all that you expose your body too.
So, keep fit by adding green tea to your diet and make each day an epic adventure!
This was first published in the February 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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