All posts tagged Green Tea

The Incredible Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea is made from the leaves of the plant, Camellia sinensis, which is a beautiful but rather unassuming-looking plant native to Southeast Asia.  Interestingly, Camellia sinensis is also the source of white, oolong and black teas.  In fact, any naturally caffeinated tea is Camellia sinensis.

Beyond being a relatively common beverage, green tea is powerful medicine.  The research on this plant is wide-reaching and highly promising.  From acting as a mouth-wash to prevent dental cavities to reducing heart disease risk and all-cause mortality, it is about as close to a natural panacea as I can find (can you tell I’m a fan?).  But for all the promise green tea holds, it is for three specific reasons that I especially appreciate a cup (or four) of green tea each day:

Anti-anxiety – An amino acid compound, L-theanine, found in green tea has been found to have relaxing effects on the nervous system.  Studies suggest that L-theanine increases brain serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels…all hormones associated with feelings of calm and wellbeing.  Given the fast-paced life most of us live in these days, a cup of calm and wellbeing sounds like a pretty excellent idea.

Stimulant – Similar to coffee, green tea contains caffeine.  Unlike coffee, however, green tea also contains other stimulant compounds beyond just caffeine.  The net effect of this broader spectrum of stimulants is a more gentle energy lift.  Whereas I often crave a cup of coffee to kick start my day, I find if I switch to green tea from there I still get an energy lift but avoid the narrow, zippy feeling that can come from too much coffee.

Anti-oxidant – The benefits of antioxidants are so broad and impressive, they really require their own post to do justice.  Suffice it to say, antioxidants delay aging, help prevent disease and prolong life.  And wouldn’t you know green tea happens to be packed with them.

So, to recap – a cup of green tea contains compounds that make you feel less anxious while simultaneously pepping you up and potentially extending the length and quality of your life.  See?  It’s about a close to a panacea as I can find!

If you’re new to green tea or have tried it and not liked it in the past, here are a couple tips:

  1. Have a tasting party and try some different brands and varieties.  From mild to bold, fruity to smoky, there are many options.  My current favorites are Gunpowder Organic Loose Leaf Green Tea from Teas Etc (it has a mild earthy flavor), or when I need bagged green tea on the go, I use Organic Green Tea from Trader Joe’s.
  2. Brew green tea between 140-180 degrees Fahrenheit.  If it’s too hot, it will be bitter and taste bad.  If it’s too cold, the flavor and medicine is not well extracted.  Here’s a site I found online with more brewing tips.

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Image by Will Spark