Green tea is rich in flavonoids called catechins, antioxidants that help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Catechins also have anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that drinking tea on a regular basis may help lower LDL cholesterol and protect against heart disease and certain cancers. This is in addition to eating a healthy diet, of course.
A cup of green tea brewed from loose tea leaves contains more antioxidants than one brewed from a tea bag. That’s because tea leaves have more surface area for hot water to extract the antioxidants – and flavour. Tea bags don’t have as much surface area for this extraction.
Green tea is not oxidized. It is withered, immediately steamed or heated to prevent oxidation and then rolled and dried. It has a delicate taste, light green color and is very refreshing.
Types of Green Tea
This is the most popular of Japan’s green teas. The leaves are slender and long and produce a slightly sweet tea with a fresh, green scent. Lesser quality sencha tea is called bancha.
Also called Lung Ching, this is the ultimate Chinese green tea produced in the Chinese village of Dragon Well. Its leaves are broad and flat and bright green in colour. Its flavour is sweet, delicate and slightly brisk.
This Chinese green tea is made up of leaves that are hand rolled into tiny pellets, resembling gunpowder. When buying gunpowder tea, look for shiny pellets which indicate freshness. Gunpowder tea leaves produce a cup of tea with mildly astringent, grassy flavour. Many have a peppery taste and some have a hint of smoke.
This powdered green tea is famous for its use in the Japanese tea ceremony. When you drink matcha you consume the powdered leaves, not just the water from steeped tea leaves like other green teas. As a result, you consume a higher concentration of antioxidants. Matcha tea produces a bright green, frothy beverage with a very grassy and slightly astringent taste.
Use ½ to one teaspoon of Matcha to 2 to 3 ounces of water. Add more water for desired taste. Stir until frothy.
If you're looking for a particular green tea, visit a tea shop in your area. Green tea should smell fresh and grassy, not old and stale.
There are also many websites that sell all varieties of tea plus tea accessories, books and other tea-related items.
Loose tea and tea bags should be stored in airtight containers away from light and heat.
For perfect cup of tea follow these steps:
|1.||Start with fresh-drawn cold water and bring to a rolling boil. Previously heated water left standing gives a flat taste when boiled again.|
|2.||The teapot should be warmed with hot water to keep your tea hot longer.|
|3.||Use one tea bag for each two cups of tea desired.|
|4.||When the water has boiled, empty the teapot of the warming water, put in the teabags or loose tea and pour in the boiling water. Cover and let steep three to five minutes. Remove tea bags.|
Tip: To maximize the amount of flavonoids in your brew, steep it for at least 3 to 5 minutes. Continuously dunking the tea bag can increase the amount of flavonoids in your cup by up to 5 times.
For Iced Tea:
|1.||Place six teabags in a one litre pitcher.|
|2.||Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over tea bags. Steep for five minutes. Remove tea bags. Fill pitcher with fresh cold water.|
|3.||Pour over ice. Garnish and sweeten to taste.|
Tip: A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice. Or make ice cubes out of brewed tea ahead of time. When added to your iced tea, it will cool but won't dilute your drink.
More and more recipes are being created to make full use of the antioxidant power and refreshing taste of green tea. It is a great pick me up any time of the day and is perfect iced on a hot summer day.
Ways to Enjoy Green Tea:
- Use freshly brewed and cooled green tea as a base for a fun smoothie. Add fresh fruit, plain yogurt and a teaspoon of honey and process until smooth and thick.
- A fresh cup of green tea at lunchtime is a pleasant pick me up.
- Use brewed green tea to marinate poultry and seafood such as shrimp and scallops, before cooking.
- Serve green tea ice cream or frozen yogurt with fresh fruit for a different dessert.
- Use green tea in fruit dips for an antioxidant boost.
- Serve iced green tea on hot summer days for a cooling refresher.
Did you know
- In the past, one might be offered a cup of "white tea" in very poor Chinese homes: namely, a cup of boiled water.
For More Information:
- Teas of Green - www.teasofgreen.com
- Tea Council of Canada - www.tea.ca
- Harney & Sons Fine Tea - www.harney.com
- Japanese Green Tea Online - www.japanesegreenteaonline.com