Posted by William on July 20, 2011
Traditional Chinese medicine has recommended green tea for over four thousand years to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, body aches and pains, indigestion, depression, immune deficiencies, toxification, and to prolong life.
Asian cultures have believed for centuries that green tea has properties beneficial to human health, however, modern science is just now discovering that this may be true.
Where does it come from?
Green tea remains the most popular tea in Asian countries. In fact, up until the eighteenth century, it was also the most popular form of tea in Britain. Imports of green tea into the United States outpaced black tea until about 1915, and much of the tea dumped into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party was, in fact, green tea.
About ninety percent of the world’s green tea is produced in China. Some of the most popular varieties include Gunpowder, Hyson, Imperial Green, and Gyokuro. Most of the world’s black tea comes from countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Indonesia, and Argentina. These countries produce little, if any, green tea.
What is Green Tea?
All varieties of tea come from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis tree. Three types of tea are produced from the leaves: green teas, black teas, and oolong teas. The differences between the three types occur during the processing of the leaves.
Tea leaves are first plucked from the tree, preferably by hand. Next the leaves are withered, or left to wilt for several hours to reduce the moisture content. The steaming process is where green tea departs from black and oolong teas. Green tea leaves are steamed, baked, or heated in a pan. This prevents oxidation, or fermentation, of the leaves so they remain green. The final appearance of most green teas is achieved by hand rolling the leaves into tight balls. They are fired one last time in an oven to ensure that no oxidation takes place.
Why is it Good for You?
Researchers studying green tea have found it to be an excellent source of polyphenols, a special class of bioflavonoids. The most important of the polyphenols isolated from green tea are the catechins, and in particular Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), a strong antioxidant that is used in food production and antioxidant research. Antioxidants are elements that neutralize free radicals, which are known to cause cancer, heart disease, and premature aging. When antioxidants neutralize free radicals, they are rendered harmless. Scientists are still studying why and how antioxidants work.