If you ask any health enthusiast today what types of food and drink he would recommend, green tea would certainly be one of them. Green tea’s health benefits are well-known. Regular drinking of this green beverage is known to enhance brain function, increase metabolism, prevent some forms of cancer and degenerative diseases, and prolong life. If you are not a regular green tea drinker yet, perhaps these interesting facts will encourage you to be one.
China was first to discover the tea’s health benefits
If we consider how relatively recent the Western world came upon the benefits of green tea, it is astounding to know that the Chinese already took advantage of this healthful beverage’s medicinal properties as early as 5,000 years ago. Ancient stories narrate how the discovery was made. A scholar was about to replenish a fire while cooking his evening meal when some leaves from a tea plant accidentally fell on a pot of water he was boiling. When he tasted the water, he found it very refreshing. He then decided to refine the process of tea making and taught others how it was done. In the 8th century, Buddhist monks introduced the practice to Japan. This is probably the reason why the Chinese and Japanese are the most avid green tea drinkers up to this day.
Good quality green tea leaves are processed within two hours after harvest
Upon harvest, tea leaves are processed as soon as possible to stop the leaves from undergoing fermentation. Picking a leaf from a shrub activates an enzyme that starts the process of fermentation. By steaming the leaves at 100 degrees Celsius for one or two minutes, the enzyme is inactivated. In the past, steaming was done by hand but this has been replaced with mechanized equipment. The almost immediate inactivation of the enzyme and the prevention of fermentation allow the leaves to retain their chlorophyll content. Hence, the green color of the tea.
Green tea is best drunk in between meals
Green tea contains tannins, which are water-soluble compounds that are found in plant-based foods. Tannins lower the body’s absorption of iron and folic acid. Hence, if you want to ensure that you are getting the maximum amount of nutrients in a meal, do not have green tea with it. Rather, drink it in between mealtimes. An added benefit of enjoying a cup in mid-morning or mid-afternoon is that the tea’s caffeine content can help keep you more awake and alert. To add to your drink’s benefits, you can choose to combine your tea with other nourishing ingredients like honey or ginger.