Glossary of Foods: Green Tea

| Diet & Nutrition

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Green tea has been consumed for over 4,000 years, so it's no wonder that its deep-rooted tradition is alive and well today. Tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, and the history behind green tea contributes to its beauty and simplicity. Green tea's emergence as a health food has only added to its popularity and demand around the world!

green tea

The Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub, is the plant used to make green tea. Green tea, white tea, black tea, and others are all harvested from the same plants, but differences in the processing develop the kinds and flavors of tea. This processing is called oxidation, which involves drying or browning the leaves using a variety of methods. The processing also affects the amount of caffeine in tea. A freshly picked tea leaf contains about 4 percent caffeine.

Tea shrubs would grow into full-size trees if left undisturbed, but growers prune plants to waist height for ease of harvest. Tea plants can grow in tropical or subtropical climates with rich moist soil. High quality teas are commonly grown at high elevation because the plants grow slower and develop more flavor. Young, light green leaves are preferably harvested for tea over the older, darker green leaves. Because the tea shrub is evergreen, the picking process may be repeated every one to two weeks.

green tea

The steeping, or brewing, process for green tea can be very particular. More high quality teas are steeped in cooler water for a shorter amount of time. Lower quality tea can be steeped hotter and longer. Over steeping tea will result in a bitter flavor. Follow a steeping guide or the instructions that come with your tea to produce the best cup of tea for your chosen variety.

The old adage, "one a day keeps the doctor away," may very well apply to green tea. Originating in China but quickly spreading throughout Asia, green tea has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years for its many health benefits. Green tea is famously high in antioxidants which come from the plant's flavonoids. These antioxidants are more powerful than C and E vitamins in preventing damage to cells. Green tea consumption can also reduce the risk for heart disease by blocking oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Along with its potential to reduce the signs of aging, improve regulation of blood glucose, and speed up weight loss, these health benefits make green tea a no-brainer for healthy living.

Sip on some green tea throughout your day to start reaping the benefits of green tea, or try a flavored green tea like our Citrus Green Tea. Or, add green tea to your skincare routine with these 12 heath secrets.

>> Read more: Household Hacks: Tea Bags