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The use of tea in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine is well documented and thought to assist in the cure of and recovery from many illnesses.
Legendary Japanese Zen priest Eisai wrote one of the oldest tea books, ‘Kissa Yojoki’ (Book of tea) – How to stay healthy by drinking tea (1191). This two volume book explains the health benefits of drinking green tea and its positive effect on the five vital organs, in particular the heart. It also explained the medicinal uses of tea including treating indigestion, preventing fatigue, boosting brain function, and acting as a stimulant. Eisai states ‘Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.’
Rich in antioxidants
Over the last few decades, green tea has been subjected to numerous scientific studies to establish the extent of its long-purported health benefits. Scientists believe that green teas health benefits are due to its polyphenols, which are natural plant compounds found in high levels in green and white tea that act as potent antioxidants. These chemicals neutralize free radicals in the body that are associated with the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
There are a number of polyphenols found in tea including catechins (epigallocatechin gallate – EGCG, epicallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, epicatechin), theaflavins, tannis, and flavonoids. Catechins make up a majority of the pholypenols found in green tea, with the most active and most extensively studied being EGCG. EGCG, which is unique to white and green tea.
Tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline, that provide tea's stimulant effects, and L-theanine, an amino acid compound found in green and white tea, that has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system.
Because white and green teas are treated gently and not over processed, they retain most of their beneficial antioxidants. White tea contains the same types of antioxidants as green tea, but in greater quantity. These antioxidants have been found to have many health promoting properties.
Research shows that antioxidants found in green tea may help lower cholesterol levels and help protect against coronary heart disease and stroke (1).
According to a Japanese study published in the JAMA, women who drank five or more cups of tea a day had a 31% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 42% lower risk of stroke. (2)
Clinical studies have also linked green tea consumption to the prevention of a number of different types of cancer including breast, colon, lung, and stomach. (3)
Drinking green tea has also been shown to help encourage weight loss by increasing metabolism and fat burning. According to International Journal of Obesity (2000), green teas thermogenic effect is due to the synergistic effect of its caffeine content and catechins, which boosts metabolism.
Tea catechins, especially EGCG, seems to have and andtidiabetic and antiobesity action. (4)
Green tea has also been found to have positive effect on liver health and may offer protection against liver disease. (5)
Green tea consumption is also associated with better oral health. Researches discovered that polyphenols found in green tea can help protect against bacterial induced dental caries, bad breath and oral cancer. (6)
Drinking green tea may also help improve your bone health by increasing bone mineral density. (7)
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(1) Sabu M Chacko, Priya T Thambi, Ramadasan Kuttan, and Ikuo Nishigaki. Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review. Chin Med. 2010; 5: 13.Published online 2010 Apr 6.
(2) Kuriyama S, Shimazu T, Ohmori K, et al. Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes in japan: the Ohsaki study. JAMA. 2006 Sep 13;296(10):1255-65.
(3) Sabu M Chacko, Priya T Thambi, Ramadasan Kuttan, and Ikuo Nishigaki. Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review. Chin Med. 2010; 5: 13.Published online 2010 Apr 6.
(4) Kao YH, Chang HH, Lee MJ, Chen CL. Tea, obesity, and diabetes. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2006;50(2):188–210.
(5) Jin X, Zheng RH, Li YM. Green tea consumption and liver disease: a systematic review. Liver Int. 2008;28(7):990-6.
(6) Narotzki B, Reznick AZ, Aizenbud D, Levy Y. Green tea: a promising natural product in oral health. Arch Oral Biol. 2012; 57(5):429-35.(7) Muraki S, Yamamoto S, Ishibashi H, Horiuchi T, Hosoi T, Suzuki T, Orimo H, Nakamura K. Green tea drinking is associated with increased bone mineral density. J Bone Miner Res. 2003;18:S241.