Thursday, September 24, 2009

How to Make a Good Cup of Green Tea

What is green tea?
All tea plants belong to the same species-Camellia sinensis, a perennial evergreen shrub. Due to the varied conditions under which tea plants are grown (different altitudes, climate, soils) this produces a wide range of distinctive leaves and flavors. The way the leaves are processed also produce different types of tea - including black tea, green tea and oolong tea.

Tea plants produce a berry, have lots of foliage, and also have a flower like a camellia. The smallest and youngest leaves are harvested by hand, usually every 1 - 2 weeks depending on the altitude where the tea plants are growing. Generally the lower the altitude the faster the plant grows.

Tea plants grow in warm climates. The best teas, however, are produced by plants grown at higher altitudes where the leaves mature more slowly and yield a richer flavor. Depending upon the altitude, a new tea plant may take from 2 1/2 to 5 years to be ready for commercial picking, but once productive, it can provide tea leaves for close to a 100 years.

Green tea is the least processed and thus provides the most antioxidant polyphenols, notably a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits linked to drinking green tea. Black and oolong tea is produced from tea leaves that have been fermented and then dried, whereas green tea is steamed and then the leaves are dried. The steaming process is the best for retaining all the goodness within the leaves.

How to Make a Good Cup of Green Tea?
The flavor of tea is enhanced with good quality water, although you should not use distilled water, as tea needs the minerals that are present in water to bring out the tea's flavors. After boiling the water it should be let stand for 2 - 3 minutes before being added to the tea. The tea should then be left to brew for a further 3 - 4 minutes. Green tea is generally taken without milk or sugar being added.

The Health Benefits of Green Tea Include:
• Promotes good heart health
• Lowers cholesterol
• Reduces heart attacks
• Aids in weight loss
• Prevents skin damage
• Improves circulation
• Helps with good digestive health
• Soothes stress
• Is antibacterial
• Helps protect against diabetes
• Strengthens bones

Avoid Green Tea if you have kidney disease, a weak heart, an overactive thyroid, a susceptibility to spasms, or a tendency to anxiety or panic attacks.

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