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Green tea, obtained from the leaves of Camellia sinensis (an evergreen tree) was first brewed in 2737 BC in China. Ubiquitous in Japan, green tea was brought to it by a Japanese Buddhist priest from China during the Song Dynasty. It is both a beverage and a medicine in most of Asia helping to control bleeding, heal wounds, regulate blood sugar and aid digestion.
The green tea plant is grown in warm climates. The plant is kept as a shrub (though it can reach a height of 30 ft in the wild), around 3 ft in height to convenience picking. The tea plants produce a camellia-like flower and a berry and lots of foliage, though only the youngest and smallest leaves are picked for tea. Tea plants grown at higher altitudes mature slowly and have rich flavors, giving some of the best teas. Green tea is produced by steaming fresh leaves at high temperatures during which it maintains polyphenols, which give it many of its benefit.
Green tea contains a variety of enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, sterols, polyphenols (notably a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG – a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin C or E), cartenoids, vitamins (A, D, E, C, B, B5, H and K), phytochemicals, dietary minerals (manganese, zinc, chromium and selenium), caffeine (very low in comparison to other sources). There are normally very few calories in green tea (additives/sweeteners contribute to the calories).
Green tea leaves are abundant in flavonoids (they account for 30% of the leaf dry weight). The flavonoids (mainly catechins and their derivatives) provide anti-oxidative and anti-carcinogenic effects.
Green tea is available in bottles and sweetened, in single tea bags, loose-leaf, or as instant-powder. Green tea supplements are available in capsule form or liquid extracts.
Where possible, sample a prepared tea before buying. Good quality teas will give you a pale green to yellow green color. When buying in loose, squeeze little tea and smell the aroma to test the freshness (should smell sweet and grassy).
Always purchase tea in small amounts to ensure freshness. Store it in a tight opaque container to retain freshness and flavor and to protect the tea from light and humidity and other odors. Glass or ceramic containers are preferable to tins. Avoid storing in refrigerator since moisture, other food odors and defrosting can spoil it.
HOW TO CONSUME
Steep / Brew a cup of tea at around 83 degree Celsius and for two to three minutes. Steeping the tea for too long might result in a bitter taste. Steeping at higher temperatures causes tannin release which is not favorable. Brew green tea with ginger, lemon or spearmint. Add a teaspoon of honey and hot water. Brew. Serve hot. Alternatively after brewing, cool and add ice cubes. Combine half portion of peach, pineapple or papaya juice with half portion of cooled green tea. Add a teaspoon of honey per cup. Blend. Add ice and serve cold.
Green tea contains caffeine. Excess consumption of caffeine could cause side effects like headache, nervousness, sleep problems etc.
It is advisable to avoid green tea during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If on any medications, please check before consuming green tea since it interferes with certain drugs.
Habit of having Green Tea is very benefitial for everyone. I am sure everyone can afford to buy the Green Tea.
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