Thank you for joining us for our very first web-blog series! Our goal is to choose a theme or topic each month and bring you 4-5 weeks of interesting blog posts about it. Hopefully, we’ll all learn something and these posts won’t put you to sleep! If you have a related question or would like clarification on any post, please click on the link at the bottom and we’ll address any questions in the final week.
This January’s topic is GREEN TEA & HEALTH!
Tea is a very popular beverage in this country and around the world. In fact, worldwide, tea is the second most consumed beverage (water is the first). The two major types of tea consumed are black and green, with black tea consumption being 3x that of green tea.
Green tea has been shown to have potent health benefits. Research has suggested that green tea may protect against various cancers, heart disease, and even diabetes. The current belief is that it is the polyphenols in green tea that contribute the most to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. What’s a polyphenol, you ask? It’s just a compound consisting of many (poly-) phenolic groups. ...What’s a phenolic group? Well its’s a six-member carbon ring with a hydroxyl group (-OH) attached...on second thought, maybe we don’t want to go down this path! Let’s instead talk about how green tea is made.
Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant (just as is black tea, oolong tea, etc), but what separates green tea from, for example black tea, is the way that the leaves are handled and processed. The leaves of the plant contain a special protein (scientific name: polyphenol oxidase) that has the ability to change the leaf’s color from green to black (we’re skipping the science here, but just take our word for it!). Normally, the protein is protected within the cell walls of the plant, but if the leaves are crushed or bruised, it goes to work! When making green tea, producers stop this protein by heating the leaves to deactivate the protein and prevent it from producing any color or flavor changes. (By contrast, when making black tea, leaves are rolled or crushed to allow the protein to produce black tea’s characteristic color and flavor.) After a brief heating, the leaves are dried thoroughly and finished (could involve cutting, sorting, grading, etc).
If you like green tea (and we don’t mean the sugar-laden bottled stuff at the grocery store), you’re ahead of the game. If you don’t like green tea, it could be because you just haven’t found one that works for you! There are many types of green tea available with widely different tastes. Try visiting a dedicated tea shop like Teavana, Lily Chai Tea or Seventh Tea Bar to get some help exploring new types of green tea.
And when you brew it, brew it right! Water that is too hot will alter the tea’s taste by extracting too many bitter compounds and destroying more delicate flavor compounds. In general, while black tea prefers water at 208-212ºF (near boiling), green tea tastes best with a water temperature around 170ºF. Brew time is dependent on the tea, so follow the recommendations that came with your tea. In general, 45 sec-2 minutes is about right. For a stronger flavor, increase the amount of tea leaves per cup, not the brew time. In most cases, leaves can be brewed at least 1-3 more times. For the best health benefits, refrigerate any leftover tea and enjoy within 24 hours. With green tea, you can brew yourself a cup of health today!
Still with me? Good! Join us next week to learn specifically about green tea and skin health.
Lily Chai Tea, Irvine Spectrum, Irvine, CA; lilychai.com
Seventh Tea Bar, The OC Mix, Costa Mesa, CA
Teavana, various retail locations; teavana.com
Adagio Tea, no nearby location but has great selection of teas; adagio.com