The history of green tea started in China, and the origin is surrounded by myths and legends. Some of the earliest stories go as far back as 5000 years ago. Green tea was originally only popular with the rich, and powerful because tea was considered a luxury in ancient China. It was only after the fall of the Mongolian empire, that tea drinking spread to the whole population of China. During the time when China was dominating the sea, tea was part of the compulsory provisions given to the sailors. In time, green tea made it's way to Japan. It was the Japanese that developed new variations of teas. The history of green tea continued when a Portuguese missionary introduced it to European counties. After that, the Dutch East India Company launched the trade of tea by shipping it from China to Europe.
The secret is, black tea, green tea, oolong (Wulong) tea, white tea and yellow tea, all come from the same evergreen plant Camelia Sinensis. The differences lie in how each tea is processed. The tea leaves oxidize, and wilt if not dried quickly after picking. As the chlorophyll in the leaves break down, the leaves progressively darken. This process of enzymatic oxidation is called fermentation in the tea industry even though in reality this is not fermentation. That is, no micro-organism is added to ferment the tea.Tea goes like this, White tea is unwilted and unoxidized by picking and air drying; Yellow tea is unwilted and unoxidized but allowed to yellow. Green tea is wilted and unoxidized, picked, then heated, by steaming or pan frying, then drying the leaves. Oolong tea is wilted, bruised, and partially oxidized. Black tea is wilted, crushed, and fully oxidized.
Tea has become the second most popular drink of choice, behind water, in the world. Also population studies have suggested that drinking green can tea reduce heart disease risk, although scientists still do not understand the mechanisms behind these observations. In a 2002 study conducted by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston interviewed 1,900 patients, on average, 4 days after they had heart attacks. The patients, who were mainly in their 60s, were grouped into non, medium and heavy tea drinkers. They drank either black or green tea. Researchers found that heavy drinkers, who drank more than 15 cups a week, were 44% less likely to die compared to non tea drinkers. Medium drinkers, who drank less than 15 cups a week, were 28% less likely to die.
- University studies are still in the early days, but there have already been a few green tea and heart attack / disease studies supporting tea's beneficial effects.
- The 2001 study by Peters provided a meta-analysis that suggested heart attack incidents reduced by 11% for every 3 cups of green tea consumed a day.
- The 1999 study by Sesso found that men and women from the Boston Area Health study who consumed one or more cups of green tea a day in the previous year had a 44% lower chance of getting a heart attack than those who drank no tea.
- A 1997 study followed 8,522 Japanese men and women over a period of 12 years. They found that men who drank 10 cups (about 32 ounces) of green tea a day had 58% lower risk of dying from heart attack compared to those who drank 3 cups or less.
- The 1995 study by Hertog followed 12,763 men from 7 different countries for 25 years. They showed that higher intake of green tea catechins to be associated with fewer deaths from coronary heart disease.
Both green and black tea contain many antioxidants that have anti-cancer, anti-mutant and anti-tumor attributes. It's been well established that tea aids in normalizing blood pressure and preventing coronary heart disease by reducing lipids (fats). Tea helps to prevent diabetes by reducing blood glucose (blood sugar). Green tea, could be beneficial in reducing inflammation related to arthritis and slowing cartilage breakdown. It may also improve bone mineral density in older women. Plus, those who consume green tea daily show less risk of memory loss. The potential benefits seem to be in the tea cup, and not in supplements or tea extract capsules. The big secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. Green tea can even help prevent tooth decay. Just as its bacteria-destroying abilities can help prevent food poisoning, it can also kill the bacteria that causes dental plaque. Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee. There are approximately 30-60mg. of caffeine in six to eight ounces of tea, compared to over 100 mg. in eight ounces of coffee.
It tastes just as good hot as it does cold. Sometimes I add cinnamon, ginger, honey, sometimes lemon , sometimes cloves. Also recently scientists from Purdue University reported that black and green teas reduced mercury absorption by as much as 92% when ingested with mercury contaminated mackerel. This is a big deal because even small amounts of mercury can damage your heart, blood vessels and central nervous system. So the next time you knock back some sushi or salmon don't pass on the saki, just order the green tea for desert. Experiment with your favorite flavors and herbs, and enjoy the wonderful benefits of this ancient drink. Good Luck...
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