Tea is drank for a variety of reasons- to improve blood flow, eliminate toxins, increase resistance to various diseases, and simply because it tastes good. In recent years the proposed benefits of tea, specifically green tea, have come into light for public consumption. Interestingly, how the tea is steeped and the quality of tea leaf both play a role in the benefits you receive.
What are the benefits of green tea?
The green tea root is rich in polyphenols - an antioxidant also found in wine. The polyphenols contain flavonoids, specifically, Epigallocatechin (EGCG), which has the most widely known health benefits. EGCG contains high levels of antioxidants, protecting the body from free radicals and toxins that enter our body through our diet and environment. Medical research has found a high association between the presence of free radicals and cancer, which is why many studies have found negative correlations between green tea consumption and the risk of cancer. The benefits of green tea go beyond decreasing one’s risk of cancer. Green tea has shown a positive correlation with heart health as well. A pharmacokinetics Japanese study showed a decrease in low density lipoprotein cholesterol by 36% versus those who did not consume green tea.
Drinking green tea is a simple strategy to fight your risk of high cholesterol, curb the effects of high blood pressure, and ultimately decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Other research has shown green tea to protect the liver from toxic substances. One of the most common toxins that our livers fight is alcohol. With all the breweries in Colorado, maybe a cup of green tea before indulging in your favorite beverage could jumpstart your liver!
Maximizing the benefits of green tea
Green tea has exceptional health benefits, but if the tea is not prepared properly, all of nutritional benefits and desired taste cannot be extracted. Green tea is best prepared between 140-185 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking tea at a higher temperatures will affect the bitterness and acidity levels of the tea. If you have ever drank green tea and had the residue of a dark red wine on your palate, you likely overheated your water. At higher temperatures, the polyphenols (tannins) dissolve and create a dry bitterness on the palate. In addition to temperature, consider the quality of tea you are purchasing. Generally, higher quality tea can be brewed at a lower temperature. Finally, steep time will change the balance of your green tea. Steep your for 1-3 minutes to achieve optimal flavor and benefits.
This post was inspired by my recent trip to Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, CO. Their tour discussed the tea making process and the benefits of drinking tea. Plus, it was full of free tastings. Hair nets strictly enforced for cleanliness!