All over the world, millions of cups of green tea are consumed daily. And a large number of its consumers are drawn to the light, luminous green, vegetal-tasting brew for the potential benefits associated with drinking this type of tea.
The fact is that green tea’s popularity has been fuelled by the many studies that have shored up the benefits of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a potent antioxidant that’s abundantly found in this type of tea, attracting both believers and disbelievers alike.
But there is also the fact that no two green teas are identical. Every batch varies, every season, across regions, and every year, in taste and their benefits. And while the compounds that make a green tea are by and large the same across all varieties, their potency and efficacy depend on a lot of factors, such as the leaf’s quality, age, production style, brewing technique, water quality, water temperature as well as the steeping time. Here is a quick green tea buying guide.
However, it is widely held true that green tea steeped from loose tea leaves is often best and the most potent source of antioxidants, including the epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Although the bagged varieties are a convenient choice, the scientific community has come to advocate the benefits of drinking garden-fresh, loose leaf orthodox tea varieties over the mass-produced ones. A typical serving of a good quality green tea, such as those produced by Halmari in Assam, usually contain 250-350mg of tea solids, of which 30-40% are catechins and 3-6% is caffeine.
Benefits and side effects of green tea
A lot of the benefits associated with green tea have to do with the abundance of antioxidants in it. Because green tea is minimally processed, the final tea retains a lot of the good compounds found in the fresh tea leaf. The most beneficial compound in a green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and it comprises nearly half of the total catechin content in the tea. And while EGCG is found in all classes of tea, black, white and oolong included, it is more profusely found in the greens.
It is widely held that this antioxidant, along with others, has the potential to help contain free radicals in the human body and inhibit lipid peroxidation. Several studies have shown an inverse association between green tea consumption and development of certain types of cancers, thereby suggesting that catechins found in green tea can potentially reduce the risk of various types of cancers in humans.
In addition to acting as a chemoprotective agent, green tea is touted beneficial in improving metabolism, building immunity and aiding general well-being.
However, over consumption of green tea has been known to overwhelm in the body in some cases. Possible side effects of green tea are typically due to caffeine and increased metal content in the leaves. Unhygienically produced green teas are often rife with toxins, including heavy metals, and can potentially increase the risk of getting anxiety, irritable bowel, nausea, head ache, and high blood pressure, among others.
Consuming good quality green tea in moderate quantities is advisable and is widely held as beneficial to health by the scientific community. And despite the lack of empirical evidence, there are strong correlations between consumption of good quality, garden-fresh green tea and improved health and sense of well-being, when combined with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.