8 Health Benefits Of Green Tea

Green tea has been used for general enjoyment and health promotion in China for centuries. It’s an important component of traditional Chinese medicine, and many tea-lovers swear green tea can improve your health, lower your risk of cancer and prevent obesity. Can green tea really do everything its fans claim?

Teas can be split into two general categories: Those made from Camellia sinensis and teas made from other plants. Green, black, white and oolong teas are made from the leaves of Camella sinensis. Other teas, like chamomile, peppermint and rooibos, come from different plants.

So what makes green tea different from other Camellia sinensis teas? The unique flavor, aroma and health benefits of green tea are created during the post-harvest process. Once tea leaves are plucked from the plant, they begin to oxidize. Enzymes within the tea leaf interact with oxygen in the air and start breaking down certain chemicals within the tea leaf. Oxidation is a natural process with many plants — you’ve seen it before with a cut apple turning brown after exposure to air. The process can only be stopped by heating the tea leaves. Green tea leaves are heated almost immediately after picking so they’ll retain their natural green color and helpful enzymes.

The exact method used to heat the tea leaves depends on the region. Japanese teas are often steamed, while Chinese teas are pan-fried in a wok. The leaves can also be dried in the sun or in an oven. As long as the oxidation is stopped quickly, it doesn’t matter which method is used.

If you’ve tried green tea before and haven’t been a fan, give it another go. With so many different ways to grow, harvest and treat tea, you can enjoy a wide variety of tastes. Most green teas have similar health effects, too, so choose based on taste, not manufacturer claims.

1. Improves Overall Health

Many people insist that drinking tea can improve your overall health. You might have heard that tea can prevent cancer, reduce your risk of heart attack and help you lose weight. In general, many of the claims made about tea aren’t supported by scientific evidence. That doesn’t mean you should stop drinking tea, though. There are a few areas where tea has proven health benefits, and no studies have found negative health outcomes from drinking green tea.

One big claim-to-fame for green tea its phytochemicals. This big word simply refers to chemicals produced by plants. For example, caffeine is a phytochemical, and so are pollens. Having phytochemicals doesn’t mean that a plant is healthy — it just means it’s a plant.

The most important phytochemicals in tea are polyphenols and flavonoids. You don’t need to know exactly what these terms mean unless you love studying organic chemistry. They’re simply different types of chemicals that plants produce. Sometimes, tea manufacturers will claim that their products are healthy because of the phytochemicals, polyphenols or flavonoids inside of them. There’s not a lot of evidence to support those claims.