Water is the most-consumed beverage in the world, but occupying the #2 spot is tea, research shows. More than 159 million Americans enjoy this brewed beverage every day, according to the Tea Association of the USA, and no wonder: tea can be enjoyed hot or cold and comes in different varieties for different tastes. Plus, tea has been well studied for its health benefits, particularly green tea. This guide will explore all the reasons why green tea is good for you, as well as ways to drink more.
What Exactly Is Green Tea?
All tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, but the leaves are processed differently to make green, black, and oolong tea, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Green tea leaves are not allowed to oxidize, which accounts for their fresh, almost grassy flavor.
Tea drinking is a ritual that people have been practicing for centuries, dating back to 2737 B.C. in Asia, according to some accounts. It’s known for its high content of antioxidants called catechins (more on those later) and is also beloved for its crash and jitter-free dose of caffeine, thanks to its generous supply of L-theanine, an amino acid that research has found to have a calming effect on the nervous system. Melissa Salazar, an International Tea Master Association–certified tea master, says that green tea has the highest quantity of L-theanine compared with other teas. “It helps to increase brain waves, which induces deep relaxation and increases focus,” she adds. “This makes green tea a very special plant indeed.”
Some small studies have observed this, finding the L-theanine to increase alpha wave emission in people with anxiety, as well as improve mental alertness. A study of 69 Japanese men and women found that it improved attention and memory-related tasks.
With that said, some green tea blends have more caffeine than others, and matcha, a popular powdered form of green tea, has the most. That’s because it’s made by grinding the entire Camellia sinensis leaf, explains Salazar, and is delivered to the body in its entirety, as opposed to tea leaves that are steeped in water and then removed prior to serving. Matcha’s unique preparation also makes it more plentiful in the good stuff, like antioxidants.
Today, green tea is still most commonly sipped in drink form, but it’s also finding its way into supplements, skin care, and more.
Green tea's benefits may include:
- Increased Mental Alertness A review found that caffeine, particularly the amount in matcha, improved alertness, arousal, and vigor during long, demanding cognitive tasks.
- Protection Against Heart Disease Not many long-term studies have been done, but the ones that have been completed suggest that green tea’s antioxidants may help lower high blood pressure (hypertension) and keep cholesterol in check, reducing the risk of developing heart disease. A Japanese study found that people who consumed 5 or more cups of green tea each day had a 26 percent lower risk of dying of cardiovascular disease during a seven-year period compared with people who drank only 1 cup per day. More recently, a study surveyed health data of 100,000 participants and found that those who frequently drank tea were 20 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease or stroke — and green tea had the strongest impact.
- Lower Cholesterol A systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that green tea consumption lowers levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol in people of all body weights.
- Cancer Prevention Some researchers suspect that catechins have the ability to block cancer-causing free radicals. Research has been inconsistent, though, and according to the National Cancer Institute, drinking green tea isn’t a proven way to protect against cancer.
- Reduced Risk of Diabetes In a study of a half million Chinese adults, daily green tea consumption was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and a lower risk of all causes of mortality in patients with diabetes.
Enjoy the healthy benefits of green tea by trying out the following recipes:
Green Tea Fried Rice
- 1 cup coconut aminos
- 2 sachet Pique sencha green tea
- 2.5 tsp minced garlic
- 2.5 tsp minced ginger
- 2/3 tsp cracked black pepper
For Fried Rice
- 10 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 cup chopped carrots
- 16 oz. chopped boneless skinless chicken breast
- 5 large eggs
- 10 cups cooked/cooled brown rice
- 1.5 cup frozen peas
- 2/3 cup chopped green onion
- Stir together coconut aminos, sencha green tea crystals, garlic, ginger and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat 5 tbsp oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add chopped carrots and sauté for 6 minutes covered, stirring occasionally. Transfer carrots to a bowl. Add chicken to hot pan and brown for 5-6 minutes uncovered. Transfer mixture to bowl with carrots.
- Add eggs to pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, using a spatula to scramble. Transfer eggs to bowl with chicken. Wipe the pan clean and add remaining oil to pan. Stir in rice and toast for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in cooked chicken/egg mixture. Stir peas, and sauce into pan to evenly combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes longer, until peas are heated. Serve hot topped with green onion.
- 12 Ounces White Chocolate Broken into pieces
- 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
- 1 ½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Tbsp. Matcha (Green Tea Powder)
- 3 Large Eggs
- ⅓ Cup Sugar
- 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
- ¼ Cup Slivered Almonds
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour and matcha powder. Set aside.
- Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, or grease and flour.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Do not be concerned if the white chocolate separates.
- Remove from heat when chocolate is just melted.
- With an electric mixer, beat in eggs and sugar in the chocolate mixture until is is smooth. Next, beat in the flour/matcha mixture and vanilla.
- Spread the batter evenly in prepared pan.
- Sprinkle almonds evenly over the top.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or just until sent in the center. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
- Cut into 2-inch squares.