What is green tea?
Loose leaf tea is the most popular nonalcoholic drink in the world. Throughout different cultures, religions and families – tea is the beverage of choice. From Chinese tea rituals, Japanese Chado, Royal afternoon teas in Buckingham Palace and more, tea is undeniably a meaningful beverage across the globe. Although coffee has certainly given tea a run for its money, overall, it appears nothing comes between people everywhere and their cup of tea.
With green tea consumption making up 20% of the overall amount of tea consumed (after black tea), it’s fair that we ask the question – what is green tea? Where exactly did those green tea leaves come from? How come there are so many different green teas? And, what plant is green tea from?
Today is the today that we spill the tea on what really are these green leaves.
What is tea?
Before we dive into what green tea is, we first have to take a step back and explain what tea is in general.
When it comes to tea leaves; green, black, oolong and white tea leaves all come from the same plant called Camellia Sinensis. The difference, however, is how the loose leaf tea is grown, harvested and processed. Depending on how the tea leaves are treated will determine whether it’s a black, green or white tea.
During the process of production, the tea leaf’s natural chemicals change, developing those unique flavour characteristics. Each step is essential, building upon the previous step in the tea process.
A cup of green tea
Green tea is the second most-consumed drink in Asia, with water being the first. This is because of the long history of green tea in Asian countries and its affordability, accessibility and high quality.
This love of green tea has spread globally, with production expected to grow 8.2% annually and hit 2.97 million tons by 2023.
For green tea, the processing method is the easiest amongst all tea leaves. This is because the green tea leaves are picked when they’re fully mature. Once the green tea leaves have been picked, the leaves are taken to be wilted. Some producers wilt the leaves for 24 hours, which dramatically changes the overall flavour and appearance. Afterwards, the tea leaves are steamed or fired in an oven to deactivate oxidative enzymes, which creates the green colour we see in our green tea leaves. Next, the tea leaves are laid out to dry naturally in protective beds.
Where is green tea from?
The biggest green tea producing countries are Sri Lanka and China. China, in particular, is renowned for excellent green tea leaves and white tea. Sri Lanka is more well known for its black tea leaves. Traditionally, China is well known for green tea, being the lead producer for centuries. When drinking a high-quality cup of green tea, you can truly experience the long history, advanced expertise and a wide amount of knowledge given to the product.
Gunpowder Green tea is said to be one of the oldest green tea types in the world. We chose our organic Pure Tea Gunpowder Green tea from China because of its superior quality and wonderful flavour. Our Gunpowder Green offers a soft and earthy cup with a smooth mouthfeel. The Chinese green tea has been tightly rolled into little pellets, hence its name – Gunpowder. In Chinese, they refer to this tea as zhu cha (pearl tea).
Health benefits of green tea
There have been many studies conducted on the health benefits of green tea. Studies have shown that green tea does in fact hold an immense amount of health properties. The leaves contain many healthy green tea polyphenols such as the flavanols – epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate and more. These flavanols are known as green tea catechins which are plant-based chemicals you can also find in cocoa and berries. All tea holds tea catechins yet, green tea is known to have the most mainly due to the way it’s processed after harvest.
The green tea catechin makes drinking green tea not only a delicious beverage but an incredibly healthy brew. It’s because of this we see green tea in many health stores in different forms such as green tea extract, green tea supplements, dietary supplements, powdered tea and added to herbal medicines. Green tea is a superfood (or drink in this case) that seeks to improve the drinker’s health in more ways than one.
Catechins hold many benefits such as:
- Anti-inflammatory; green tea increases the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which affect the growth of all cells that help the body’s immune and inflammation responses.
- Antioxidant; protects your cells from free radicals which cause heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
- Reduces total lipid levels; these levels are increased in the human body with the consumption of fatty foods, alcohol, disease, stress or hypothyroidism.
- Anticarcinogenic properties; these are beneficial for those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and neurologic and oral health (antimicrobial).
Catechins comprise 80-90% of the flavonoids and approx. 40% of the water-soluble solids in green tea.
Thoughtful loose leaf tea businesses will ensure they select tea leaves from farms that emphasise high quality. Green tea naturally holds an incredible flavour profile that’s soft, elegant and oh-so comforting. Tea farms that ensure care and quality through the whole process will offer exceptional tea leaves. Some mass-produced tea leaves aren’t given as much care thus leading to damage, poorly processed tea leaves and tea dust. When tea leaves go through a poor process this directly affects the flavour for the drinker. If you’re looking for a higher quality green tea with body and texture it’s best to choose artisans over supermarket teas.
What does green tea do for you?
There’s a reason green tea has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries! Green tea is known to promote a wide variety of potential health benefits that positively impact both the mind and body.
Possible health benefits vary from weight loss, weight maintenance, blood sugar regulation, reducing high blood pressure, disease prevention (such as liver disease), preventing cardiovascular diseases, reducing blood fat levels, regulating blood pressure and improving brain health. It’s truly a superstar beverage.
For the mind, it’s known to clear brain fog, increase alertness, improve mood and reduce stress. Even the process of making tea and holding the cup in your hands has been known to hold meditative qualities. We certainly know we feel calmer when we have a fresh cup of green tea in our hands!
Although the exact science behind all of these benefits of green tea is in question, modern medicine can’t deny green tea’s incredible immune boosting functions. Rich in antioxidants, some tea drinkers even sprinkle goji berries in their tea for a supremely rejuvenating brewed green tea.
What happens if I drink green tea everyday?
Green tea is a healthy beverage to drink regularly, if you were to drink green tea everyday it can help weight loss, reduce risk of disease (such as heart disease and liver disease), increase energy levels and promote overall well being.
Studies show that because green tea contains caffeine and a type of flavonoid called tea catechins, green tea can boost metabolism and help people burn 3–4% more calories per day. These green tea catechins are a great antioxidant that causes this small yet positive impact on the body. In fact, many supplements include green tea catechins due to these weight loss benefits.
Because green tea is drunk without milk too, it’s a healthier alternative to other beverages. Replacing your milky coffee with a cup of green tea might be the change of habit you need to see weight loss results.
What is green tea made from?
Green tea is made from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis. All black, white, oolong teas come from the same tea plant. It’s the way in which the tea plant is processed that creates a different flavour and cup.
Who should not drink green tea?
Green tea is a drink that can be enjoyed by everyone however, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding we advise consulting with your doctor first. Young children under the age of 2, might want to avoid green tea as well as other caffeinated beverages. For individuals with any serious health conditions, it’s always best to consult with a doctor before trying something new.
Best way to drink green tea
Now that you’ve come to the end of this blog, it’s time to celebrate with a cup of green tea!
In our opinion, the best way to drink green tea is the most simple way – with your favourite green tea from Pure Tea (of course), hot water and in your favourite mug. For brewing instructions, refer to the back of the Pure Tea card to make sure your tea is brewed to perfection.
We hope this has taught you a thing or two on green tea. If you have more questions, feel free to read our resources section.
Thank you for reading.
Leaf Bean Machine team member,
*These pictures were taken by owners Fleur and Brad when they were visiting the tea farms. Such a lush and beautiful landscape with passionate tea lovers giving the utmost care at every step of the way.