Why is green tea good for you?
1. It’s hydrating.
A cup of green tea is the result of a very simple process. Fresh leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant are picked, dried then left to infuse in water. In this pure form, quality green tea is a 100% natural drink that is mostly water. Because it’s mainly water, it is a hydrating drink.
2. It’s full of antioxidants
The leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant contain plant-based compounds called catechins. The type of catechin that ends up in your cup of tea depends on the process that has been used to dry the leaves. For example, the leaves that go into black tea are oxidised before they are dried. To make green tea, no oxidation is allowed. This means the main catechin remains as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is an antioxidant that is known to stabilise free radicals in cells and is also anti-inflammatory.
You can find the full story on green tea’s powerful antioxidants here. It is worth noting here that the type of green tea you drink can determine the level of antioxidants in your drink. For example, matcha green tea is Japanese green tea that has been stone-ground. Once ground, matcha powders are whisked and suspended in water. This means the tea leaves are ingested, unlike in a regular infusion, so matcha teas contain significantly higher concentrations of both caffeine and antioxidants.
However, whether you drink loose leaf green tea or tea bags should make no difference to the health benefits of your tea. At JING, we use the same high quality green teas for both formats, including for our Sencha green tea as well as organic green tea such as Hojicha.
3. It’s a performance enhancer
Even more than antioxidants, tea is famous for containing caffeine. It also contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which promotes relaxation and is understood to inhibit the release of caffeine into the bloodstream. This combination of caffeine and L-theanine is probably what gives a cup of tea its unique ability to both focus and relax its drinker at the same time, and why you will often see green tea being recommended as part of a healthy diet.
A cup of coffee does not offer the same health benefit because it does not contain L-theanine. That’s why coffee drinkers can find the caffeine reaches their bloodstream quickly, prompting a swift high that can be followed by a low. Also, herbal teas – or herbal infusions – do not contain caffeine, so they do not offer the brain boost that tea made from Camellia sinensis does.
Is green tea good for everyone?
The current official advice is for pregnant women to drink caffeine in moderation. The NHS suggests it is fine for them to drink up to 200mg of caffeine a day – that’s the equivalent of around four or five cups of green tea.
Because of green tea’s caffeine content, anyone who is sensitive to caffeine or who has a sleep disorder such as insomnia should avoid drinking green tea in the evening or close to their bedtime. If you have another health issue and are at all concerned about whether you should drink green tea, always seek the advice of a doctor.
In general, we believe it is good to drink green tea. And we particularly recommend trying loose leaf green tea. By taking time out to prepare loose tea, you give yourself an (increasingly rare) opportunity to pause. Around the world, ancient cultures have recognised the mental benefits of drinking tea for millennia. Tea has been a part of meditation rituals around the world and we too are convinced that setting aside some time each day to drink a range of teas – including green tea – should have a positive effect.
Just remember that green tea is best prepared slightly differently from black tea. Black tea leaves can be infused in boiling water, but green tea leaves prefer water at lower temperatures. You can find out more about that here.