Green Tea is more than a drink - it is a health elixir
Enjoying a cup of green tea for many of us is a blissful, calming and reassuring experience, which can bring a sense of contemplation while taking time to just be.
Green tea is created by the leaves of the tea plant being steamed or fired which stops the active enzyme leaf from oxidising. With Japan and China as the world leaders in green tea production both have their own method. Japan steams their leaves whilst China fires them which gives each country is own distinct leaf flavour.
Whilst the green tea leaf does contain levels of caffeine it varies with each variety and presents significantly less amounts than a regular cup of coffee.
Green tea is known for its disease-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols which makes it beneficial for the liver as well as speeding up the metabolism to around 4% per day, which promotes weight loss as one of the benefits.
It also contains a unique amio acid called L-theanine, with its numerous benefits. While it helps to improve brain function it also assists in keeping blood sugar levels stable and achieving healthy cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart attacks. Researched shows that it is active in protecting the body against cancers and improves bone mineral density and strength. According to the American Journal of Medical Nutrition you can lower the risk of developing functional disabilities as we age such as osteoporosis, cognitive decline and stroke by almost half from green tea.
It benefits oral health also in regard to the *’streptococcus mutans’ which exist in our mouth. This is a harmful bacteria in the mouth that leads to tooth decay. Studies have proven that the catechins (a natural phenol and antioxidant) in green tea inhibits it’s growth and therefore improves dental health.
Preparing a pot of green tea
For maximum health benefits you will need to drink around 5 cups per day.
This is just a guideline for you, but as a general rule the water should be just short of boiling, or if it has boiled just let it cool for a short period of time. The experts say the ideal temperature is around 160 degrees.
Place a teaspoon of loose tea in the tea pot or infuser and once the water is added allow it to steep for approximately three or so minutes to allow the leaves to unfold and infuse their unique flavour with the water. This processes of steeping also allows the precious nutrients to embody the water as well.
The longer it sits the stronger it will become so if that is not to your liking, simply add more hot water to enjoy the rest of the pot.
Green tea is a very gentle mood enhancer, providing a natural calm to the body. Hence that lovely sense of just being when you have a cup of green tea.
MATCHA GREEN TEA
The Matcha Tea Experience
From my research I discovered that Matcha Tea originated in China and was brought to Japan by a Zen Buddhist monk in the 12th century. From that time the process of creating the perfect cup was skilfully perfected by the Japanese, soon becoming the tea of high society.
The first thing you will notice about matcha tea is it’s vibrant green leaf in powder form. The stalks and veins are removed before the leaves alone are steamed, dried and stoneground in order to retain their vital goodness.
That goodness comes in the form of an antioxidant 10 times the power of the brewed green leaf tea, because you are drinking the whole leaf.
How to prepare and enjoy the matcha tea experience
If you would like to make it in the traditional Japanese way I have been advised to begin by warming a tea bowl and placing a teaspoon or two of Matcha powder into it.
Then add hot water at about 70deg C, this is cooler than boiling so let the boiled water sit before adding to the tea before whisking it all together until it gets a bit of a froth happening.
Not everyone has a traditional Japanese hand whisk including me so I use my stainless steel egg whisk. Not quite as good but it does the job!
My personal favourite way to enjoy matcha is as a latte using nut or coconut milk. The flavour is lovely but if it’s a little to grassy for you try adding a little natural sweetener.
Match is also perfect to add to smoothies, juice or if you like to bake, be bold in using it as an addition to bliss balls, brownies, muffins etc. The kids may get a total kick out of the fact that what they are eating is green!