Green Tea and Health - Part Two

[Zhi Tea: July 7th, 2008

There are three main varieties of tea -- green, black, and oolong. The difference between the teas is in their processing. Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that scavenge free radicals -- damaging compounds in the body that alter cells, tamper with DNA (genetic material), and even cause cell death. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins (including ultraviolet rays from the sun, radiation, cigarette smoke, and air pollution) also give rise to these damaging particles. Scientists believe that free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

Green tea has been consumed throughout the ages in India, China, Japan, and Thailand and these cultures have touted its health benefits for time immemorial.  In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, practitioners used green tea as a stimulant, diuretic (to promote the excretion of urine), astringent (to control bleeding and help heal wounds), and to improve heart health. Other traditional uses of green tea include treating flatulence (gas), regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and improving mental processes. 

The health benefits and properties of green tea are largely attributed to polyphenols, chemicals with potent antioxidant properties. In fact, the antioxidant effects of polyphenols appear to be greater than vitamin C. The polyphenols in green tea also give it a somewhat bitter flavor.

Polyphenols contained in teas are classified as catechins. Green tea contains six primary catechin compounds: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and apigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG). EGCG is the most studied polyphenol component in green tea and the most active.

 

Most green tea products are sold as dried leaf tea. There are also extracts made from the leaves and leaf buds. The average cup of green tea contains between 50 to 150 mg polyphenols. Decaffeinated green tea products contain concentrated polyphenols.

(extract from an article written by the University of Maryland Medical Center)

To read more details about these studies and findings go to: Full article

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