Healing Teas Part I: Green Tea
Teas – Green Teas
There are thousands of varieties of tea, right? While that might be true, you might be surprised to learn that most tea comes from one plant. If you don’t include herbal teas (or infusions of herbs), the “true teas” all come from the Camellia Sinensis plant, a species of evergreen, which can be a shrub or small tree.
Black Tea vs Green Tea
What makes tea black, green, white, oolong, etc. depends upon how it is processed. To make black tea (the most popular tea in America), the leaves are cut and allowed to wither naturally. Then the leaves are processed through oxidation (where the leaves absorb oxygen as they dry). To make green tea, the leaves are allowed to wither slightly before being heated rapidly. This is done to halt the oxidation process. That’s the primary difference between green and black teas.
A Spotlight on Green Tea
Green tea is especially rich in polyphenols, which are a group of chemicals naturally occurring in various plants. These substances help fruits and veggies protect themselves against various natural factors, like UV radiation and disease, and can be easily spotted as they give the food an appealing vibrant color. They also contribute to that bitter, kind of astringent flavor you might taste sometimes. Various foods will have a various number of polyphenols, depending on a number of factors, including how they were processed.
Without getting too technical about it, there are thousands of different polyphenols, which can be further divided into categories. One such grouping is known as flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes. Green tea has these in abundance and the polyphenols in green tea have been shown to inhibit tumor growth.
A specific type of flavonoid that is prevalent in green tea is EGCG (also called epigallocatechin gallate). This substance has been in the press quite a bit lately, as it’s being recognized for its health benefits, including its success against cancer. For one thing, it is an amazing antioxidant. In addition, EGCG interferes with the growth of cancer cells. What’s more, this substance helps you feel more alert and has been known to protect neurons. I don’t know about you, but I can always use a little extra brain power.
Green tea comes in a variety of flavors and tastes really good. Don’t mix in milk and sugar though, as that will decrease the health benefits. By all means drink green tea with lemon, the citrus juice will bring out the green tea’s anti-oxidants making them easier for your body to absorb. And while on my protocol (which you can read about in The Cancer Answer) I only drink decaffeinated green tea, because caffeine should always be avoided by cancer patients. That way I get all the cancer-fighting benefits without any added harm.