...is not just on the planet anymore!
It is the wee little leaf steeped in over 4,000 years of history. It has 10 times the antioxidant power of many fruits and vegetables. It has probably conquered more territory than the crown and is even gaining ground with former coffee loyalists.
What is it?
It is green tea, and it is taking the world by storm!
Green tea is not a cousin or even a sibling of other popular varieties such as black tea and oolong tea, and that is because it is much more closely related. Green tea actually comes from the same plant as black tea and oolong tea. So, what accounts for the vast differences between these varieties?
The differences lay in the preparations.
Black and oolong tea leaves undergo a process whereby they are crushed and then left to ferment over time, lending them their distinctive dark color.
After selection and plucking, green tea leaves are partially withered and almost immediately heated and steamed to prevent fermentation. This process retains the leaves' natural hue and also infuses the brewed tea with a subtle, relaxing green color.
Nutritionally, the preparation processes for black and oolong, as well as green teas, further sets these varieties apart from one another. All three varieties are high in the antioxidants called polyphenols, but green tea has a leg up on its fermented friends.
One polyphenol antioxidant, called EGCG, is found in its greatest concentration in green tea, and this exact polyphenol is lost during the fermenting process for black and oolong varieties.
What exactly do these polyphenols do for you and why should you be excited to have them swimming around in your cuppa?
Research conducted over the last decade has shown a strong link between polyphenols and the prevention of degenerative diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases and cancers. This coincides with statistics such as those voiced by Michael Gregor, M.D., who cites green tea as being responsible for cutting breast cancer risk by up to 1/3, and comments on the discrepancy between cancer rates worldwide (with Asian countries having some of the lowest occurrence rates.) Perhaps this is not a coincidence, as China is the home of green tea, and has been for thousands of years.
Further, Dr. Zuo Feng Zhang who is a cancer epidemiology researcher at UCLA and the University of Maryland Medical Center recommend two to three cups a day to improve overall health, though you don't have to stop there!
Five cups a day have been shown to decrease the risk of stomach cancer. Seven cups per day can aid weight loss and boost metabolism. The limit is around ten cups, owing to the caffeine content.