Benefits of Green Tea

Green Tea Benefits and how to make a perfect cup

Green tea has been used as a health-promoting drink by various cultures around the world for thousands of years. Its high antioxidant and nutrient levels make it beneficial to the body in many ways and research is now showing that it can help reduce the risk of some cancers, promote a healthy weight, and support the brain.

Green Tea Benefits

Green tea is made from the unfermented leaves of the tea plant. Because it is not fermented like black teas, it has a higher concentration of antioxidants (called polyphenols). Research suggests that these antioxidants can have a beneficial effect on the body by neutralizing free radicals and reducing inflammation. This benefits the body in many ways:

Antioxidants

The rich antioxidant content makes this gentle tea beneficial to the brain, heart and other organs. Research has uncovered that antioxidants may be helpful in slowing the effects of aging and helping protect the body against diseases linked to free radical damage (cancers, diabetes, arthritis and others). From the University of Maryland Medical Center:

Polyphenols contained in teas are classified as catechins. Green tea contains six primary catechin compounds: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and apigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG). EGCG is the most studied polyphenol component in green tea and the most active.

Green tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. They provide green tea’s stimulant effects. L-theanine, an amino acid compound found in green tea, has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system. (1)

Cancer Research

Due to its free radical reducing ability, it has also been studied for its role in avoiding cancers:

  • One study of 472 women with breast cancer found that those who had consumed the most green tea before cancer and after diagnosis saw the lowest spread of cancer and were less likely to have cancer return after treatment.(2)
  • A study found that people who consumed more were less likely to get pancreatic cancer. The group of men in the study who drank the most green tea had a 37% less chance of getting pancreatic cancer.
  • Studies have also shown that it can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, one Chinese study found that men who drank 3+ cups of green tea a day were 70% less likely to get prostate cancer.
  • The Iowa Women’s Health Study of over 35,000 women found that those who drank this tea were 30% less likely to develop colon cancer.
  • In testing on lab animals, those who received green tea had 1/10 the number of skin cancer occurrences as those who did not.

Heart Health and Weight Loss

Green tea also shines in the area of heart health and supporting healthy weight since it contains flavonoids, antioxidants that are said to help promote healthy circulation and cholesterol levels and lower the risk of atherosclerosis.

In a study of 1,900 people who had recently had heart attacks, the death rate in patients who drank at least two cups of green tea a day was 44% less than in those who didn’t drink tea. Other studies have a shown a 40-70% reduced risk of heart attack in tea drinkers over non-drinkers. (3,4)

Other studies have shown increase fat burning and lower risk of obesity in tea drinkers. (5,6,7)

For the Mind

Thanks to a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, green tea may also be good for the mind and for slowing aging. This compound not only protects against UV related damage but may also help halt skin aging caused by free radicals.

This same compound makes it protective of neurons and brain cells and initial research suggests that regular green tea consumption can help protect the mind and delay deterioration from Alzheimers and Parkinsons. (8,9) Other compounds in tea, L-theanine and caffeine, can help support the brain and improve alertness and focus.

Cautions & Fluoride content

Tea plants are known as fluorine accumulators, meaning that they can absorb and store fluoride. Those with thyroid conditions or other disorders should ask a doctor and exercise caution with green tea consumption for this reason. (10)

Research has found that higher quality green teas have less fluoride and lesser quality teas are more likely to contain high levels of fluoride. I buy bulk organic green tea from a trusted source and consume in moderation.

Green tea is not studied in children and not recommended during pregnancy. Due to its high antioxidant content, it can interact with some medications so check with your doctor before consuming green tea, especially in large amounts.

How to Make Green Tea

Green tea is slightly more difficult to brew than other teas since it is more delicate and can easily become bitter. I follow these rules to ensure a non-bitter tea:

  • Start with a high quality organic green tea. I buy in bulk here and my favorite varieties are Dao Ren and Green Sencha.
  • Use water between 175-180°F
  • Ideally, use a tea kettle and place the tea leaves in the kettle before adding the water. I use 2 teaspoons of tea per cup (8 ounces) of water.
  • Steep for only 1-2 minutes before pouring into a cup. Some tea kettles have a built in strainer, or else tea can be poured through a strainer.
  • To make iced tea, use the same amounts and pour over a cup of ice before consuming.

Are you a green tea drinker? What varieties do you like?

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Reader Comments

  1. I noticed that much of Mountain Rose’s tea is from China. I love Mountain Rose herbs, but the origin is concerning. There was one from Japan that I saw as well. Have you found any research yet on the quality of the Chinese tea? It’s hard to trust any product from China these days since they allow so many toxins in their water and have such poor health manufacturing practices. Regarding the Japanese tea, I’m curious if there is any research done to find out if there is any radiation components in their tea.

    • I stick to Japanese tea most of the time, but most quality teas come from Japan or China and it is one product that I generally am comfortable ordering from China if I know it is from a quality source.

  2. Hi Katie! Great post– I love green tea, but my doctor told me to monitor my intake because I have a condition called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (Mthfr for short!). Among other things, this mutation keeps the body from absorbing folate or folic acid effiecently, which is obviously a concern for women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or nursing. Some studies estimate that as much as 40% of the population have some variance of this condition. We lost two pregnancies before we discovered I had it and now I take extra folate (it is more potent than folic acid) and we were able to have a successful pregnancy and have a beautiful one year daughter. I still enjoy green tea but I make sure I drink it at least two hours before and/or after I take folate or have my fruits and veggies. Thanks again for all of your info!!

      • Dang, girl– you’ve got it all covered!!! What a great post on the mthfr mutation– and we are only beginning to scratch the surface of this condition– I’m hoping more and more research will go into it as more people start to become aware.
        Thanks again!

        • I couldn’t help but comment on this. I have MTHFR C677T ++ I have found LOADS of help from Dr. Amy Yasko. My life is being completely turned around. Just thought I would pass on the info 🙂

  3. Katie, where do you get your tea tins from?

  4. I love the flavour of green tea and the caffeine kick I get from it (it wake we up just like coffee especially the high quality organic ones). However for some reason I can only have it after a meal or it makes me quite nauseous. Has anyone else got that problem? Coffee doesn’t do that but I never drink it on an empty stomach for other reasons.

  5. Yes!!! Tea in general makes me queasy on an empty stomach- I wonder why that is…..

  6. Katie, I have been wondering what teas you consider safe for babies/toddlers/kids. I have yet to find a source that explains which teas are ok and why. Why is green not recommended for kids? I usually stick to chamomile, hibiscus, rose hips, but sometimes make a big pot of tea on ice using blends. I always make sure not to use eucalyptus.