Which Green Tea Is The Best?
We are told tea is good for us - especially green tea, notorious for being one of the most popular teas and being praised for its health benefits for centuries. But which green tea is the best?
With so many different types of green teas, it can be hard to find and decide which green tea is the best for us. Let us give you a helping hand in this blog post.
First, where did green tea originate from?
Green tea originated in China, but production and manufacture has spread to other countries in East Asia. It’s made from Camellia Sinensis tea plant (a species of evergreen shrubs or small trees) that has its leaves and buds not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong teas and black teas.
What are the general health benefits of green tea?
- May Prevent Cancer
Green tea has risen as a possible aid in fighting cancer, in recent years. Based on research, drinking at least three cups of green tea can help prevent mutations in cells that cause cancer - antioxidants (molecules that fight free radicals in your body, and are also found in food) in the tea leaves are the main attribution to this.
This antioxidant in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). It helps to fight free radicals (compounds that can cause harm if their levels become too high in your body), which can cause certain types of cancer and oxidative stress (an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body - cell damage can occur and body processes get broken). Studies have shown that green tea may help prevent occurrence or growth of certain cancers such as ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer - though more research is needed.
Though green tea has been said to help in fighting cancer, it is not an actual cancer treatment - it just may help lower the risk of it. Results of this are reliant on moderate to high doses of green tea, and must be consumed regularly to attain these results - as most research has demonstrated.
TIP: avoid adding milk to your green tea/some teas in general, to get the most health benefits out of it - adding milk to your tea can reduce the antioxidant value levels, according to some studies.
- May Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
Studies have shown that people who drink green tea have up to 31% lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease (umbrella term of heart conditions/diseases that include structural problems, diseased vessels and blood clots - most common types of this disease are heart disease and strokes).
The cause of this is because the antioxidants (known as polyphenols - a category of plant compounds that offer various health benefits, and catechins - natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits), in green tea can protect heart health by improving blood circulation to lower the risk of blood clots and heart attacks. The polyphenols may also help lower high blood pressure and regulate blood sugar levels.
Studies have also shown that green tea may help improve total cholesterol (includes HDL*, LDL**, and 20% of your total triglycerides***) and LDL levels, which have been linked to heart disease. Green tea as well can increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood, which protects the LDL particles from oxidation, as this is one part of the pathway toward heart disease.
* “good cholesterol” that transports cholesterol to your liver to be expelled from your body. It helps your body get rid of excess cholesterol so it’s less likely to end up in your arteries.
** ”bad cholesterol” that takes cholesterol to your arteries.
*** a common type of fat.
- May Regulate Blood Sugar
Some controlled studies have shown that green tea may help to regulate blood sugar levels, and improve the body’s insulin sensitivity. This is because of the anti-inflammatory properties green tea has, that can reduce swelling in arteries and improve circulation through blood vessels.
Green tea may also lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes (elevated blood sugar levels, which may be caused by an inability to produce insulin or an insulin resistance). Some studies have shown that drinking just two cups of green tea a day can have positive diabetic effects.
- May Protect Brain Health
As you age, green tea may be able to help protect the brain from neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (a common neurodegenerative disease involving the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain), and Alzheimer’s disease (a common neurodegenerative disease).
Some studies have shown that green tea slows memory regression, improves memory recall, spatial cognition, and increases the brain’s ability to process new information at an older age.
- May Help With Weight Loss
Several studies show that green tea may help with weight loss, particularly in the abdominal area. This is because green tea catechins speed up metabolism, increase energy levels, and improve liver function. Having a speed up metabolism means the body can burn fat stores faster, therefore making being able to lose weight faster. Green tea then accelerates fat oxidation. Liver function is improved by the green tea catechins supporting the liver in breaking down fats into energy - which may help support endurance and athletic performance.
Metabolism though can also be weakened by the impact of green tea when it is combined with caffeine. Therefore it is recommended by researchers to consume less than 300 milligrams of caffeine to retain the weight loss effects from green tea.
But what are the disadvantages (side effects) of green tea?
- Upset Stomach
Acid in the stomach may increase due to the compounds in green tea known as tannins (group of bitter and astringent compounds). Too much acid in the stomach can cause acid reflux, digestive problems, and cramps.
To avoid this side effect; it is recommended to drink green tea with food, and brew the tea with water between 75 and 85 Degrees Celsius. It is also recommended that people with irritable bowel syndrome should avoid green tea, as the caffeine in it has a mild laxative effect and drinking too much green tea can cause diarrhea.
- Sleeping Difficulty
Caffeine and L-theanine (amino acid**** that helps people relax) are found in green tea - these compounds help boost energy. Yet if you drink green tea right before bed, the mild amount of caffeine in it may keep you awake. It is then recommended in order to avoid this, to drink green tea no later than 5 hours before going to sleep.
**** one of the building blocks of proteins, as compounds that play many critical roles in the body.
You may get headaches if you are sensitive to the caffeine in green tea. If you suffer from migraines or chronic headaches, it is recommended to avoid drinking green tea every day.
- Increased Risks During Pregnancy
Caffeine and tannins in green tea have been linked to increased risks during pregnancy- as caffeine particularly can be passed through breast milk. It is recommended by experts to drink no more than two cups of green tea per day when nursing or pregnant.
Types of the most common green tea
China and Japan are where the main types of green tea are from. There are various types of green tea among the main types.
Which green tea is the best from these types? First we’ll list and outline the most common green teas to help us answer this question.
Chinese Green Teas
- Longjing (Dragon Well)
Among the ten famous green teas in China, Longjing green tea is ranked number one. It is also called West Lake Longjing Tea, as it’s mainly produced in the mountains surrounding West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province - where there is mild temperature, diffuse sunlight and abundant rainfall. This green tea is considered premium quality and tends to be more expensive than other green teas. The tea leaves are harvested only once per year.
Known for its jade green colour when brewed, it has a mild vegetal and chestnut flavour, with a slightly sweet, balanced and smooth finish. It emits a bold, slightly mint flavour when the loose leaf tea is infused in hot water.
- Huangshan Maofeng (Yellow Mountain Fur Peak)
Is often seen in the list of best Chinese green teas, and one of the top ten Chinese teas. It is also called Yellow Mountain Fur Peak as Mao in Chinese means “hair or fur” and Feng means “mountain peak” - this describes the appearance and planting region of the tea. On the surface of this kind of dried tea is a layer of white hair which is like animal’s fur, and the tea leaves are picked from the peak of Yellow Mountain (Mt. Huangshan) in Huangshan City, Anhui Province. Hence the name Hunagshan Maofeng or Yellow Mountain Fur Peak (“sharp tea leaves covered with pekoe from Mt. Huangsha”).
The tea is clear and yellowish with the long lasting flavour and aroma of Chinese chestnut or orchid.
- Taihu Biluochun (Green Snail Spring)
This traditional Chinese tea has more than 1,000 years of history. It is also called Green Snail Spring as the processed tea leaves get rolling shapes just like snails (silvery green with white hair), and the tea leaves are picked in Spring. Taihu Biluochun is produced in Dong Ting Mountain by Taihu Lake in Wu County, Suzhou City of Jiangsu Province.
It’s known for its fruity Apricot flavour, with a hint of fresh-cut hay and vegetal.
Japanese Green Teas
- Matcha (Powdered Green Tea)
When green tea leaves are stone ground into a fine powder, matcha is created. The entire leaf is consumed when one drinks Matcha green tea, therefore it’s considered as one of the healthiest green teas. It can be made traditionally according to principles of Japan’s formal tea ceremony, or commonly made as a matcha latte. The unpowdered form is called “Tencha”.
Top-grade matcha is a bright shade of green - the lighter green varieties are sweeter, with the darker varieties more bitter. It has notes of marine, vegetal, seaweed, bitterness, and fresh-cut grass.At GiveMeCocos we love Matcha, and we have a blog post where we tell you why it is the perfect alternative to coffee, click here and not only learn about this superfood, but also find the best Vegan Matcha Latte recipe.
- Sencha (Infused Tea)
Cultivated in the Shizuoka province of Japan, Sencha green tea is the most popular Japanese green tea, and is often found in cafes and restaurants. Sencha refers to the first picking of the tea bush, which takes place from late February (warm climates) to the end of May (cooler climates).
Sencha is smooth with a fresh-cut grass and vegetal flavour, and hints of seaweed and marine. It’s high in vitamin C and is a popular teamtime drink for women.
There are different types of sencha, with Gyokuro being the most exported type - it’s emerald green in colour, and has a rich body and satiny feel with sweet and savory flavours.
- Genmaicha (Roasted Rice/Popcorn Tea)
This green tea is also known as Roasted Rice/Popcorn Tea because it blends the tea leaves with roasted rice kernels.
Genmaicha green tea has a mild bitterness, slightly nutty taste, and toasty, marine and vegetal notes. It can be used as a replacement for coffee, and is the ideal drink to have after consuming an oily or deep-fried meal.
So, which green tea is the best?
There is no particular green tea that is the best for everyone, it all comes down to personal choice - depending on what flavours you like, how you are with your health at the current time, and what you’re looking for in general in a green tea.
All of the above factors should be able to help you decide which green tea is the best for you personally. It can take some trial and error but by the end, you should be able to find a green tea that is the best for you - whether that’s by taste, health or in general!
Once you do find which green tea is the best for you, the best way to enjoy it is in GiveMeCocos handmade, eco-friendly Bamboo Cups! Get yours here !