Despite the strong and long-standing relationship Britain has had with tea, green tea has only become truly popular in the UK in the last 20 or so years. Its powerful antioxidant properties is what attracts most people to drink it and many have now replaced the traditional black tea with green tea instead, or have added it as a daily beverage.
What is green tea used for?
Green tea is high in antioxidants and is used to help prevent cancer, to aid weight loss and also as an anti-ageing agent.
What’s the history of green tea?
Green tea has been around as a beverage for more than 5000 years, with records showing it was drunk in China around that time. It didn’t reach European shores until the 16th century, however.
What’s the best way to take green tea?
You can make your own green tea with tea bags, loose leaf or buy bottled iced tea. Some contain only green tea while others may add other ingredients to enhance the flavour. The only way to know which you prefer is to try various brands. Green tea needs to be brewed at a lower temperature than black tea (so leave the water for a short while before you pour it over the tea), and steeped for four minutes.
According to studies, drinking several cups of tea each day helps prevent cancer and may also help patients recovering from cancer treatment. While there are some small scale studies that show benefits from even just one cup, it’s recommended to drink more to see full benefits or take a green tea supplement.
It may also depend on the disease. For prostate cancer, research suggests that five or more cups of green tea per day helps lower risk of developing the cancer. For breast cancer, more than three cups per day seems to show the biggest benefit. Finally, for prevention of diabetes, research suggests six or more cups per day can help reduce your risk of diabetes by 33%.
A serving of green tea is one tablespoon per cup (240ml) of hot water. This means that each cup contains around 20-40mg of caffeine.
You can also add the leaves to smoothies or even cook with them if you prefer.
White tea is from the same plant as green tea but is made from the new buds and young leaves. Like green tea, it also has strong antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and many find its milder flavour preferable.
Does green tea really work?
Green tea works in similar ways to ordinary black tea but just at more intense levels because it has more antioxidants – catechins – in it. Various studies have shown that drinking green tea regularly helps prevent cancer.
With weight loss, it seems the catechins and also caffeine may help.
All in all, it seems that drinking around three cups a day is optimal.
Where can I get green tea?
Green tea is available at supermarkets and healthfood stores, as well as online.
How long does green tea take to work?
As a weight loss aid you may notice a drop in appetite immediately and research suggests that you would see a difference in weight loss success within eight weeks of drinking several cups a day.
What are the side effects of taking green tea?
Drinking large amounts of any caffeinated drink can cause issues for some people, including anxiety, lack of sleep, indigestion and headaches. The more you steep the tea the greater the quantities of caffeine in it so if you suffer with problems take the tea bag or strainer out before it gets too strong.
Catechins in green tea may also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb iron and so if you are at risk of low iron levels, see your GP before drinking it or taking supplements.
Are there any contraindications when taking green tea?
If you are taking medications for heart problems or blood pressure, see your GP before upping your intake of green tea or taking supplements.
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