What Is Green Tea?
Green tea is a hot beverage that originally comes from China.In recent years, it has become increasingly popular in the Western world due to its long list of health boosting properties.In this article I will be taking a deeper look at the origins of green tea, the various types of green tea and its main health benefits.
The History Of Green Tea
Today there are many different varieties of tea available.You can buy black tea, green tea, oolong tea, white tea and more.Regardless of the type, all tea is made using the leaves of the Camellia sinensis.The different types are created when the tea is processed.However, when green tea was first discovered, the production processes weren’t nearly as advanced and all tea was green tea.
The Origins Of Green Tea In China
The very first mentions of green tea date back to a Chinese legend from 2737 B.C. where the Emperor Shen Nung is believed to have accidentally discovered the hot beverage. The legend states that Shen Nung boiled a pot of water under a Camellia blossom tree and some of the dead leaves fell into his pot.He drank the hot water which was infused with the tea leaves and enjoyed the taste.The taste also led him to believe that it had medicinal properties.
The next major references to green tea were made hundreds of years later in the book ‘Classics Of Tea’ which was written by Lu Yu and released around 760.This book discussed how tea plants were grown as well as covering the production process and discussing how to prepare tea as a hot beverage.Based on what is written in ‘Classics Of Tea’, consumption of green tea appears to have been very widespread during the 8th century in China.
The Introduction Of Green Tea To The Rest Of The World
During the 9th century, green tea was introduced into Japan and was first mentioned during this time by the Buddhist monk Eichu.It was then later introduced to Portugal in the 16th century and was gradually introduced into the other Western countries during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Although green tea has been available worldwide for hundreds of years, it has only become popular in the West during the last 30 years.Prior to the 1990s there was very little scientific interest in green tea.However, since the 1990s a number of high profile scientific studies have been published which highlight the seriously impressive health benefits of green tea and this has led to a surge in green tea consumption in the Western world.
The Different Types Of Green Tea
Unlike the vast majority of teas, green tea does not go through the oxidation process.Instead, the Camellia sinensis leaves are picked and they are then either pan fried (Chinese green tea) or steamed (Japanese green tea) to prevent oxidation.There are many different varieties of green tea but almost all of them are either Chinese or Japanese.
Chinese Green Tea
With Chinese green tea, the oxidation process is stopped by frying the leaves in a pan which results in a toasted taste and a golden/yellow color.Chinese green tea is considered lower grade than Japanese green tea and therefore costs less to purchase.There are numerous types of Chinese green tea but some of the most popular varieties include:
- Dragonwell (Long Jing).
- Fur Peak (Mao Feng).
- Gunpowder (Zhuchá).
- Green Snail Spring (Bi Luo Chun).
- Hyson Lucky Dragon.
Japanese Green Tea
With Japanese green tea, the oxidation process is stoppedwith steam which results in a grassy taste and a bright green color.Japanese green tea is considered higher grade than Chinese green tea which means it commands higher prices.There are a many different types of Japanese green tea but some of the most popular selections include:
The Health Benefits Of Green Tea
As discussed earlier in this article, the health benefits of green tea have been the focus of many scientific studies since the 1990s.Some of these health benefits have a large volume of scientific backing and are fairly conclusive whereas others have a relatively low amount of scientific data behind them and are a bit more speculative.The most popular health benefits associated with green tea include:
- Blood health.
- Cancer prevention.
- Diabetes prevention.
- Heart health.
- Strong immune system.
- Weight loss.
I hope this article has helped you learn a little more about green tea and given you a few new varieties to try.Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages around and the health benefits really cannot be ignored.So find a variety you like, get the kettle on and make sure you are drinking regular cups of green tea throughout the day.