Green Tea has been consumed for health benefits since as early as 2737 BC when the emperor Shen Nong is reputed to have discovered it in China. Although there are many varieties of tea, all tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis shrub. It’s consumption increased dramatically after the Buddhist monk Lu Yu wrote his Treatise of Tea between 760-780AD and tea was brought to Japan by the Buddhist monk Saicho in the 9th century.
The camellia shrub thrives in loose acidic low clay, low calcium soil where potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus are high. Although the varieties of tea range from black (highly fermented) to green (unfermented), it is the green teas that have the most medical benefits. Two of the most famous green teas are Gyokuro (precious rose) from the Shizuoka region near Mount Fuji in Japan, and Long Jing (dragon well) from Hangzhou region in Zhejiang province in China. Gyokuro is covered by black cloth 3 weeks prior to harvest in order to accelerate sap migration to the buds and young shoots (pekoe), and then picked and dried by steaming at 176ºF while Long Jing is picked then dried in iron or copper pans at 212ºF for a short time. This heating deactivates the enzymes in the leaves and prevents fermentation. Gyokuro is consumed both as a loose-leaf tea and as matcha or powdered green tea (used for the tea ceremony or Cha No Yu). For Gyokuro, the temperature of the water used to steep it should not exceed 140ºF and it shouldn’t be steeped for longer than 1 minute. Long Jing should be steeped at a maximum temperature of 158ºF for 1-5 minutes.
All green tea contains varying quantities of the Vitamins: C, A, B complex, E, K as well as the minerals: potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, copper and zinc. There are also many beneficial catechins and bioflavonoids, most notably EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), which is highly beneficial as an antioxidant and inhibitor of tumors in the brain, prostate, bladder and cervix. The bioflavonoid quercetin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and assists the body in recycling its Vitamin C.
Green tea also helps to break up fats and aid in their absorption, as well as aiding in the metabolism of alcohol. The caffeine present in green tea is also only about 1/3 as bioavailable as it is in coffee. This is possibly due to the presence of it’s catechins and bioflavonoids.
Due to the bactericidal activity of EGCG against S. mutans (the bacteria that commonly causes dental cavities), and its ability to lower maltose levels in the oral cavity after it has been consumed, green tea is also effective in helping to maintain oral hygene.
A nutritious way to use leftover rice is by making the Japanese dish called ochazuke, which is essentially green tea poured over the rice with some grilled fish and/or yaki-nori (sushi seaweed sheets) and umeboshi (Japanese pickled sour plum). This dish is gentle on the stomach and although you didn’t hear it from me, great hangover medicine.
Green tea leaves can also be used as a facial beauty aid by taking the cooled, steeped, damp leaves and placing them over the eyes (as one would a cucumber slice) to remove dark circles under them. However, make sure that they are wrapped up in a tissue or bag so as to make clean up easier.
Finally, to remove up to 80% of the caffeine present, pour hot water over the leaves, then discard it quickly and drink the second draught. Typically, the leaves are good for about 3-4 draughts before they get too bitter.

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