Green Tea

green teaThe Chinese began cultivating and drinking green tea approximately 4,000 years ago, using the unfermented leaves of Camellia sinensis, the same plant that produces the more fermented oolong and black teas, which have more caffeine. Over the centuries the people in many Asian countries have developed many varieties of green tea, which vary considerably according to the horticulture involved, growing conditions, processing techniques, and the timing of the harvest. Although in the past its popularity was confined largely to Asia, in recent decades it’s become increasingly popular in the West, where black tea has traditionally been most popular. Tea As Art A Tang Dynasty book entitled Cha Jing, or Tea Classic described in detail how to produce and enjoy the most exquisite green tea. The Japanese tea ceremony prescribes how to do this in harmony with that culture’s spiritual beliefs and aesthetic orientation. Throughout Asia the process of steeping it perfectly has become a complex, highly refined science as well as an art. Okakura’s 1906 English-language classic, The Book of Tea, explains this for Westerners. Good Health In A Cup People throughout Asia have long recognised green tea’s medicinal properties as well as its value as an enjoyable beverage. Written in 1191, Japan’s Kissa Yojoki, or Book of Tea prescribes methods and dosages for using it to treat a wide range of ailments. In recent decades many scientific and clinical studies have examined its health benefits, and although inconsistencies in their findings, especially in regard to uncertainty about dosages for particular conditions, mean it remains unrecognised as a medicine, population studies have shown that its value as a dietary factor for maintaining good health is indisputable. Antioxidants The basis of its health benefits appears to be that it has the largest naturally occurring concentrations of polyphenols, which are notably potent antioxidants, even more powerful than vitamin C. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which appears to have the ability to calm the nervous system. Research Findings Although often inconclusive and sometimes contradictory, studies have found that green tea and supplements derived from it can possibly be beneficial in contributing to the prevention or amelioration – or both – of a wide range of conditions, including atherosclerosis, cholesterol imbalance, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, liver disease, such inflammatory diseases as arthritis, and bladder, breast, ovarian, colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, and skin cancers. It does, however, have the potential to counteract the positive effects of chemotherapy. Often the effects vary with the subjects’ genders and ages. Supplements Also Available In addition to the traditional loose tea and more modern tea bags, green tea is also available in the form of dietary supplements composed of dried tea leaves in capsules or as concentrated liquid extracts made from the leaves and leaf buds. Decaffeinated supplements with concentrated polyphenols are also available.  

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