There’s a ton of crappy advice out there about literally everything.
Believe me, I know. Sifting through research is a huge part of my daily life.
So, I understand the skepticism when you start learning a new health trend.
You want to learn something new, but can’t shake the feeling that “this is probably total crap.”
Well this, my friends, is not total crap.
You Should Drink Green Tea
You should drink it every day. You should drink it hot. You should drink it cold.
And while you’re at it, drink some water too. Maybe some milk (or soy or almond). Some juice in your smoothie. Coffee, if that’s your thing, but the kind you make yourself… Starbucks is a special treat!
Basically, anything but soda and artificially flavored junk. Repeat after me: sugar is bad for you.
But, green tea is good. Really good.
I understand you’re skeptical. I see your raised eyebrows and smell the cynicism.
So, let me tell you WHY.
The good things that green tea can do are numerous. It could probably establish world peace, throw a roast in the oven, and take a nap before tackling climate change.
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants!
It’s full of polyphenols such as flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants. Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) is the primary antioxidant found in green tea. It protects cells from damage due to free radicals and boosts your metabolism!
It can help lower your risk of various cancers!
Multiple observational studies have shown regular green tea drinkers are significantly less likely to develop cancer. This is due to those high levels of antioxidants! Cancer cell development is influenced by oxidation and the various compounds in green tea have been shown to reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers.
It can help you lose weight!
Controlled trials have shown green tea to boost metabolic rate and increase fat oxidization. However, for this to be successful, you’ll need to combine daily green tea consumption with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
It’s got caffeine!
Not quite as much as coffee, but enough to help improve your focus, mood, memory and reaction time.
It’s good for your brain!
Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can cross the blood-brain barrier and stimulate inhibitory neurotransmitters that help relieve anxiety.
It also has the potential to protect your brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s due to the high concentration of catechins! Catechins have been shown to offer various levels of protection to human and animal neurons.
It can lower your risk of infection!
Turns out those catechins kill harmful bacteria, too. This can also contribute to dental health and better breath, lowering your risk for gum disease and cavities!
(Still need to brush your teeth regularly though, because, ew.)
It may lower your risk for type-II diabetes!
Studies have shown green tea to boost insulin sensitivity and help reduce blood sugar levels.
It may lower your risk for cardiovascular disease!
Heart disease, heart attack, and stroke are the biggest causes of death worldwide! Green tea has been shown to positively affect the main cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, and improve the antioxidant capacity of the blood.
It’s good for your hair!
Green tea is a good source of both panthenol, which strengthens hair, and antioxidants, which help stimulate healthy growth. EGCG increases follicle production by boosting specific cells responsible for hair growth.
A Word of Warning
Before we run away with ourselves, we should remember that there is no one size fits all and it’s important to be aware of all the things, good and bad. Green tea is crazy good for you, yes, but there are a few instances its usage should be cautioned.
As always, talk to your doctor if you take prescription drugs, have a health condition, or have any questions.
- Green tea and green tea supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
- If you take blood thinners such as Warfarin, you should avoid green tea due to its high levels of Vitamin K.
- If you are pregnant or nursing, consult with your doctor before drinking green tea or taking green tea supplements.
- If you have a caffeine sensitivity, be aware that green tea contains caffeine, though it’s less than a cup of coffee.
- Green tea contains tannins, which slightly influence the body’s iron absorption. Women can simply reduce their green tea intake during their periods, and consume foods rich in iron and Vitamin C such as leafy greens and citrus.
What Is Green Tea?
Green tea is produced from the leaves, buds, and stems of the Camellia sinensis bush, which is native to India and China. Other teas undergo a fermentation process that oxidizes the green material into various types of tea, such as white or black. Green tea leaves, however, are just steamed at high temperatures.
This process preserves the bioactive compounds that make green tea so beneficial! Unsweetened green tea is a zero-calorie beverage and contains the greatest number of antioxidants among tea varieties.
How To Make Green Tea
Hot Brew – Bring filtered water to a full rolling boil, then let cool slightly. Pour the hot water directly over the tea bag (use two bags to brew a full pot). Allow to steep for 2 minutes, 3 if you like a fuller tasting tea. Drink plain or sweeten with a touch of honey and some lemon.
To hot brew powdered green tea (matcha), you’ll add your boiled and slightly cooled water directly to 1-2 tsp of the tea, then whisk it to a froth
Cold Brew – Cold brewing is my personal favorite method because it’s low maintenance and I like my green tea chilled. Before I go to bed, I fill a liter water bottle with filtered water. Then, I pop a Tazo green tea bag in, put the cap on, and leave it in the fridge overnight. By morning, my tea is a perfect strength and ready to drink.
You can find green tea prepared many ways. It can be purchased in tea bags or loose leaf, in instant matcha powder forms, or premade and bottled, which are typically full of sugar.
You’ll want to avoid the premade, bottled versions that are loaded with sugar, or even worse, artificial sweeteners. Your best bet is to brew the tea yourself!
There are many excellent brands of bagged green tea. My personal favorite is Tazo Zen, which is green tea mixed with spearmint and lemongrass. It’s lightly citrusy and minty and refreshing. I love it so much that I drink it unsweetened.
Popular brands such as Lipton, Twinings, Tetley, Yogi, and Celestial Seasonings all offer green teas. Twining’s teas come in a variety of flavors, such as lemon and jasmine. Tetley’s tea bags contain two grams of tea leaves and produce an intensely flavored cup of tea. All of them offer varying levels of catechins.
Loose teas are harvested and processed differently than bagged teas. This process allows them to stay fresh longer and have a more intense aroma and taste. I’m not a loose-leaf tea drinker myself, preferring the convenience of bags.
During my research, though, I found some beautiful teas mixed with flower petals and other herbs that are so aesthetically pleasing I’m almost convinced to switch!
Several popular brands include Teavana, Republic of Tea, Dragonwell, and Gunpowder. Do you drink loose leaf green tea? Tell me about it! I’d love to try something new.
Matcha is a powder made from green tea leaves mixed directly with boiling water. It’s the most highly concentrated of green tea products and offers the greatest health benefits.
Look for brands like Kenko, Mizuba, Grace and Green, Midori Spring, or Encha. Matcha powder is more expensive than bagged or loose leaf tea. Expect to spend $20 – $30 for high-quality matcha.
Where are my matcha devotees? Please share your experiences and your favorite brands!
Take Care of Your Body
Might surprise you, but I didn’t start drinking green tea for the health benefits. I started drinking green tea because I like it better than plain water. Those 8 cups a day go down a lot easier if part of them are flavored! Still, I was pretty pleased to discover all the good things it can do.
Green tea may not be a miracle drug, but there are so many positives that it’s obviously a better choice than soda or energy drinks (and tastes better than plain water!) Choosing a healthy lifestyle involves eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated. I’m a firm believer in moderation (probably because I’m from the South and we have awesome comfort food) and try to take care of my body as best I can.
Next time you’re at the store, grab some green tea and see what you think! Even if it’s only a cup a day, it’s better than nothing.
I’d like to create a list of the best green teas with their average prices and flavor profiles. Please share your favorite brands in the comments, and tell me why you like them!