By Laura L. Ecklund
Made from the dried leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, green tea came from China between 4,000-5,000 years ago. The legend is told that an ancient Chineses Emperor was boiling water and some leaves fell into his pot. Today, green tea is popular all over the world, not only for the taste but also for its many health benefits. For centuries Chinese medicine has used green tea for headaches, digestive problems, lack of energy, and immune enhancement to name a few. Today green tea is available flavored or natural- a taste that is pleasing to anyone.
Why don't other teas have similar health-giving properties? It is all in the making. Although all tea comes from the same botanical source, green tea is produced in a different process. Green, oolong, and black teas all come from leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. All of these teas go through a heating and fermenting process. What make green tea special is that it is never fermented, instead its leaves bypass the fermenting process and are steamed, baked or pan heated. The way in which they are processed and not fermented prevents the EGCg epigallocatiechin gallate compound from being oxidized. This process is what makes green tea so beneficial to our health and beauty.
Numerous scientific observations have also linked green tea with remarkable preventive disease properties. Gargling with green tea has been shown to inactivate the flu virus, as has drinking a cup each day to activate the polyphenols (poweful antioxidants) that are also suspect to work well agiainst both colds and flu's
Here are just a few known health benefits of drinking green tea:
- Subtance in green tea are destructive to cancer cells, yet they have never been found to cause harm to healthy cells.
- Fat burning properties- raises the metabolic rate and speeds up fat oxidation.
- There are powerful antioxidants within green tea leaves.
- Improves cholesterol levels
- Stimulates immune-systems cells- boosting the immune system.
- Reduces the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
- Contains fluoride and is believed to help fight plaque on teeth and prevents bad breath (with the advantage of tasting good if is inadvertently swallowed).
- Beneficial for the skin- green tea leaves are used in a number of beauty products from deodorants to body cream.
- Slows the aging process.
Though studies are just emerging on the amazing benefits of green tea, it is becoming widely viewed as one of the superfoods of the future in the United States, as it has been in China for thousands of years. From your local coffee chain to grocery stores, green tea is becoming widely available and highly desirable.