Archeological evidence suggests people drank tea leaves steeped in boiling water as many as 5,000 years ago. Botanical evidence shows that India and China were among the first countries to cultivate tea, and today tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. Hundreds of millions of people drink tea around the world, and studies suggest that green tea (Camellia sinesis) in particular has many health benefits.
There are three main varieties of tea — green, black, and oolong. The difference in the teas is in their processing. Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that scavenge free radicals — damaging compounds in the body that alter cells, tamper with DNA (genetic material), and even cause cell death. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins (like ultraviolet rays from the sun, radiation, cigarette smoke, and air pollution) also give rise to these damaging particles. It is thought that free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as a number of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.
Green tea has been consumed throughout the ages in India, China, Japan, and Thailand. In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, practitioners used green tea as a stimulant, diuretic (to promote the excretion of urine), astringent (to control bleeding and help heal wounds), and to improve heart health. Other traditional uses of green tea include treating flatulence (gas), regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and improving mental processes.
Clinical studies suggest that green tea extract may boost metabolism and help burn fat. One study confirmed that the combination of green tea and caffeine improved weight loss and maintenance in overweight and moderately obese individuals. Some researchers speculate that substances in green tea known as polyphenols, specifically the catechins, are responsible for the herb’s fat-burning effect.
If you don’t like taste of Green Tea, you can find lots of different naturally flavoured green tea bags in your grocery store.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, people should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.
People with heart problems, kidney disorders, stomach ulcers, and psychological disorders (particularly anxiety) should not take green tea. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid green tea.
If you are being treated with any medications, you should not drink green tea or take green tea extract without first talking to your health care provider.