Miracle in a Cup: The Benefits of Green Tea
by Crystal Futrell, Extension Master Food Volunteer
For centuries, cultures have boasted the miraculous curing effects contained in green tea. But recent scientific studies show that the legends behind green tea might be more than mythical folklore.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Drinking green tea has been linked to many health benefits including:
- fighting viruses,
- slowing the aging process,
- lowering LDL cholesterol,
- strengthening weak immune systems, and
- helping to eliminate bad breath.
Green Tea and Weight Loss
It’s also been suggested that green tea helps you lose weight. Compounds in the tea help to increase the metabolism. They also encourage the body to release carbohydrates more slowly. This prolongs and increases energy, but also helps to inhibit the movement of glucose to storage units in the body and prevents the energy from being immediately stored as fat. This could explain why regular green tea drinkers are so slim.
Antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG)
So how can one teaspoon of tea leaves pack so much punch? The secret lies in a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. While all tea contains some measure of health benefits, only green tea contains the potent EGCG that’s responsible for its broad scope of medicinal attributes.
Green tea comes from the same camellia sinensis plant that produces black and oolong tea leaves. But black and oolong teas are processed differently. These teas are allowed to dry and ferment after picking. Green tea leaves are steamed. This steaming process allows the green tea leaves to retain their nutrients.
How to Prepare Green Tea
So, why aren’t more people drinking green tea? Despite all its qualities, green tea has a reputation for being bitter. But tea experts claim that the secret to good green tea lies in the preparation process.
Experts suggest that you:
- Start with cold, fresh water.
- Bring the water to a boil then let it sit and cool for three minutes. The water temperature should be between 180 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. (Traditional black teas should steep at 212 Fahrenheit degrees.)
- Pour the cooled water over the tea leaves or bag and let it steep for three minutes.
- After three minutes, remove the tea leaves or bag and let the tea cool for another three minutes.
It’s a lengthy process, but the potential health benefits are well worth the effort.
How Much Green Tea Should You Drink?
Despite its potency, drinking a cup of green tea once a week will not produce a bounty of health benefits. To be truly effective, it’s recommended that four to six cups of green tea be incorporated into a daily regimen. It shouldn’t be looked on as a cure-all elixir but rather an additional supplement to an already healthy lifestyle.
Return to list.