While it may feel workaday, that soothing mug of tea comes with an impressive resume…
A glass of warm lemon water every morning. Your Sunday afternoon yoga sesh. When your wellness routine includes practices you truly love and connect with, those practices transform from routine to ritual. Something you look forward to, movements or habits done with respect for the acts themselves and reverence for the way they nourish body and mind. Oftentimes it’s our own minds that assign these habits their ritual qualities in our lives — perhaps your lemon water sets the tone for the rest of the day, or that yoga practice helps to unwind from the week that came before — but it’s likely that the practice itself arrives at our doorstep fully steeped in its own tradition, whether we’re aware of it or not. Yoga. Ayurveda. Tea. While they may feel fresh when when adapted anew in your life, in reality these ingredients and practices go back thousands of years. Take your daily mug of green tea, for example. While it may feel workaday, that soothing mug of tea comes with an impressive resume. Those little emerald leaves have been savored for centuries, honored for their health-giving properties and used in rituals across the world. Today I’m diving into the benefits of green tea and sharing a simple way to enjoy it. Read on to learn all about it…
What is it? Though all tea — with the exception of herbal teas — comes from the same plant (Camellia sinensis), it’s the oxidation process that differentiates teas from each other. Green tea, native to India and China (and brought to Japan by way of China in the 1100’s), is one of the least oxidized teas, second only to white tea, and as a result boasts some of the highest levels of antioxidants, polyphenols and organic compounds. Green tea is grown two ways — shade grown and sun grown — and harvested three to four times per year (the first harvest yields the best quality leaves).
What are the benefits: The (many, maaaaaaany) benefits of green tea have been documented as far back as the 1100’s — so you know there’s something there. Green tea was traditionally used in Chinese medicine to aid digestion and promote wound healing. More recent studies of the tea have shown it to be beneficial for both of these things and more. Because of its low oxidation, green tea contains extremely high levels of antioxidants, specifically EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) which protect cells from damage and reduce the risk of certain diseases. Green tea has been associated with improved cardiovascular health, possibly reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease. While it has less caffeine than coffee, green tea does provide a gentle caffeine boost. The caffeine present in green tea, coupled with the amino acid L-theanine, has been shown to boost brain activity. L-theanine can also boost the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which can lower anxiety and increase feelings of calm. Long story short, if coffee makes you feel crazy, green tea could be the answer to more energy without the jitters! The catechins (molecules, EGCG is one of them) present in green tea have been found to inhibit the growth of bacteria, possibly leading to improved mouth health and the prevention of disease, since many diseases and viruses, especially strep) take root in the mouth. Green tea can also improve skin health by regulating the life cycles of skin cells and reducing inflammation and redness.
How do I use it? Green tea is best brewed in water that has been heated to between 140°F – 185°F degrees and allowed to steep only a short time — any longer than 4 minutes and most varieties become bitter. Good-quality green tea can usually be steeped three or four times, or hot water may be added to a teapot as the tea is consumed. Green tea can also be prepared cold in a variety of ways. Try some of our favorite green tea recipes here, and read about the benefits of matcha green tea here! The recipe below is one of my favorites for super early mornings, when it’s too early for a proper breakfast and my system just isn’t ready for coffee… but I need something. The green tea provides a gentle pick-me-up without the early morning crash that would come with coffee, while the coconut oil provides fuel until you’re ready to eat something (read up on the benefits of coconut oil here). What’s more, it comes together in a flash, so you can focus on getting yourself ready for the day and out the door on time.
Green Tea with Coconut and Mint
1 tea bag or 1 scoop green tea leaves
8 oz water
1 tsp coconut oil
Sprig of fresh mint
Place tea bag in the mug or position tea strainer with tea leaves over top. Add the mint sprig.
Heat the water to 140°F – 185°F and carefully pour over tea bag/leaves and mint.
Allow to steep between 1-4 minutes, depending on desired taste.
Remove tea bag/leaves and mint and stir in coconut oil.
+ Read more Wellness Encyclopedia posts here.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.
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