Why is green tea good for you?

We are often asked "what are the health benefits of drinking green tea"? Is green tea good for you? What does green tea do?

There are a lot of claims about tea, especially green tea, and some of them might be described as ill-researched or "health-washing". I'm very concerned that the information you get from us at Rare Tea is clear and does not fall under those categories.

I am not a health professional or a doctor. I do have a Master's degree but it's in Philosophy, not Chemistry. Most people just call me the Tea Lady. I'm the CEO of Rare Tea which I founded in 2004. I've been working in tea since the end of the last millennium and I have learned a few things along the way. Tea is not just business, it's my life. These are my opinions gained in 20 years of working with producers, customers, restaurants, chefs and scientists.

What is green tea?

All tea is made from the same plant. Green tea, white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, black tea, pu'er tea – are all crafted from the leaves of the same plant, just like all wine is made from grapes. Tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant[1]. An evergreen shrub native to East Asia but now cultivated around the world, it's rich in polyphenols which are a type of antioxidant. Tea also contains some minerals including potassium, calcium and iron.

Herbal infusions like Camomile, mint, lemon herbs, flowers, dried fruits etc. are not strictly speaking teas - and thus have their own separate medicinal properties. Herbal infusions (tisanes) cannot be included alongside the health benefits of drinking tea - Camellia sinensis. Many tea drinks like Bubble Tea may not actually contain any tea at all or negligible amounts. Some are comprised of just sugar, artificial flavourings and additives. They are more like liquid sweets (candy) than tea.

Health Benefits of Green Tea

Tea has been used for millennia as a medicine. Regular tea drinking has been linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Tea also makes you feel good. Tea is a rich source of the amino acid L-theanine, which is linked to mood enhancement. It is understood to be even more effective when combined with caffeine (all tea made from Camellia sinensis contains caffeine and L-Theanine).

Green tea specifically is high in a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which can improve memory, attention and mood[2].

What type of Green Tea is Best?

I would highly recommend drinking green loose leaf tea. I don’t recommend green teabags because the delicious flavour and health benefits come from the tea itself, not the packaging. Have you ever consider what you might be drinking that comes from the bag? Is it good for you?

To turn trees into paper or corn into "silken" plastic doesn’t happen by magic. Even biodegradable, organic teabags have been industrially manufactured using environmentally unfriendly chemicals and solvents. It might say organic tea and biodegradable packaging but that isn't the whole story. You and the environment are far safer without single-use bags.

A machine-harvested and industrially processed tea may not retain the same precious amino acids and catechins as a carefully hand-crafted leaf.

None of the tea gardens we partner with use pesticides or herbicides (you can read more about our approach to organic tea here). The best flavoured green teas are not churned out by machines, they are lovingly hand-crafted by artisans. We select all our teas directly from the farm, for flavour. As Ferran Adria once said at a food conference I attended in Copenhagen – if you want to seek out the best flavours, seek out the best farmers. If they love the land, they will put that love into what they grow. Sustainability and flavour go hand in hand.

I strongly believe that the best tasting teas are also the best for you.

If you take the industrially grown and produced green tea bag and compare it to a carefully crafted leaf green tea – made with the same craft and in the same place for thousands of years without the use of noxious chemicals or industrial machinery - it not only tastes better (which makes you feel better) but the gentler processing will retain more of the leaves natural goodness. I can't prove this. There have been no experiments comparing industrial leaf with hand-crafted - I can't afford to commission the research, but this is my humble Tea Lady opinion.

All the best,

Henrietta
@raretealady

I have included some Frequently Asked Questions below, as a quick reference point. I do hope you find this useful. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any further questions I haven't answered, or information that you think should be added.

Green Tea FAQs

Are there downsides to drinking green tea?

There are no known side effects of green tea - unless you really overdo it. Alongside the helpful antioxidants and minerals, green tea does contain caffeine.

When should we drink green tea?

Green tea is great at any time of day, with food or whenever you feel thirsty. It counts towards your daily hydration and does not have a significant diuretic effect. Green tea does contain caffeine so you might not want to drink it last thing at night.

Does green tea speed up digestion?

Green tea contains caffeine which is known to speed up digestion.

Is green tea good for skin?

Green tea contains many helpful antioxidants. Green tea and white tea are increasingly used in skin care. There is significant research to suggest that white tea and green tea might be more effectively ingested rather than applied topically.

Does green tea count as water intake?

Green tea can be counted alongside water as part of your daily hydration. Tea does contain caffeine which can have a diuretic effect, but only in high quantities of around 350mg, which equates to roughly 25g of tea a day. That’s a whole tin of our Whole Leaf Green Tea from which you can make 37 cups of tea.

Is green tea anti-inflammatory?

Green tea is rich in polyphenols which are a type of antioxidant which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Does green tea stain teeth?

Green tea does not stain tooth enamel. And it can be used to help with bad breath.

Does green tea reduce belly fat?

Green Tea contains caffeine which boosts metabolism. There is no clinically proven link between green tea and fat reduction beyond its caffeine content.

Matcha green tea has the most caffeine because it contains the entire tea leaf. Most green tea is an infusion of tea leaves in water, matcha is a suspension of the entire ground leaf into water.

References:

  1. Camellia sinensis Wikipedia.org
  2. The science of tea’s mood-altering magic Nature.com