The Best Green Teas For Health
Green tea is a tasty elixir that has long been used in traditional medicine. Increasingly, the tea has been researched by medical centers and shown to offer potential benefits from accelerated weight loss to improve immune health.
We've put together this guide to help you choose the best green teas. We'll introduce you to a world of flavor from sweet and floral to robust and roasted. Dive into these best green teas and enjoy your next cup of tea.
Looking for green tea that is tasty and healthy? Check out our collection of the best green teas right here.
What Is Green Tea?
Green tea is a true tea just like black tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, and white tea. These types of tea are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant. The largest producers of green tea are Japan and China, though several other countries produce lesser-known varietals. In Japan, green tea is an integral component of the traditional tea ceremony.
There are two main subcategories of green tea: Japanese green teas and Chinese green teas. Japanese green teas are shade-grown during the last few weeks of cultivation. They are also steam-dried resulting in a vegetal and herbaceous flavor. Japanese green teas tend to be sweeter and more floral than Chinese green teas.
Chinese green teas are roasted or pan-fired, developing a toasted flavor. This type of green tea tends to be earthier and have a more robust taste than Japanese varieties. The green tea leaves are generally grown in sunlight during the entire process. The leaves are also rolled into tiny pellets to create some of the most famous green teas known as Gunpowder Green tea.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea is a known weight loss aid. In fact, green tea is a common ingredient in weight loss pills and supplements. That's because research shows that green tea may help to accelerate weight loss when paired with a healthy diet and regular exercise (1).
A meta-analysis found that green tea catechins such as EGCG — epigallocatechin gallate — had a positive effect on weight loss and improved weight management (2). Green tea works by speeding up metabolism and encouraging the breakdown of fats.
These weight loss benefits were found to be more pronounced in certain ethnicities. People of Asian decent showed higher levels of weight loss compared to those from Caucasian backgrounds (3).
Green tea contains a moderate amount of caffeine that can help boost energy. In addition to caffeine, green tea also contains an amino acid known as L-theanine. L-theanine helps to slow the absorption of caffeine, resulting in a longer-lasting energy kick (4). It also means that drinking green tea won't include side effects such as energy surges and crashes that tend to accompany a cup of coffee. The effects of L-theanine help to improve focus and attention while also maintaining calm (5).
Many of the benefits of green tea come from high levels of powerful antioxidants. Green tea contains catechins that help to fend off free radicals. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress by interacting unusually with healthy cells. Oxidative stress has been linked to a host of issues from premature aging to heart disease (6).
May Aid in the Treatment of Diabetes
Green tea may be useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes when combined with modern medicine. Animal studies have shown that green tea catechins may help to modulate blood sugar levels (7). Green tea also boasts anti-inflammatory properties which may help to prevent some complications associated with diabetes.
The Best Green Teas
Green tea is available in tea bags or as loose leaf tea. Loose teas tend to have better benefits since they consist of the entire tea leaf. Many tea bags from tea brands such as Numi and Lipton contain the dust and fannings of tea leaves created during the production process. Tea bags also limit the ability of tea leaves to expand, resulting in an inferior taste.
Sencha green tea is considered one of the top Japanese teas. It's often served in Japanese restaurants and features a flavor with hints of melon and pine. The taste of sencha trends towards a light sweetness and grassy notes.
There are several subcategories of sencha tea including Asamushi and Fukamushi. The differences arise in the different durations of steaming when the leaves are dried. Asamushi varieties are lightly steamed, resulting in a pale color and sweet taste. Fukamushi is more heavily steamed and features an earthy flavor more similar to Chinese green teas.
Matcha is a Japanese tea known for its seaweed notes and vegetal flavor. Matcha tea is a green tea powder that can be brewed using simply hot water or as a latte with the addition of milk. Matcha is a special type of green tea in that the entire tea leaf is consumed since the tea is brewed as a powder.
Matcha green tea powder delivers a rich, creamy texture. The tea is brewed by whisking the powder and water using a traditional bamboo whisk known as a chasen. The tea should be whisked in a vigorous zig-zag motion or the best flavor and consistency. The tea is also consumed using a wide-brimmed bowl known as a chawan. The wide opening allows the tea drinker to fully enjoy the aroma and flavor of the tea experience.
Genmaicha green tea is a Japnese blend of green tea leaves infused with popped rice kernels. The rice adds a toasted flavor to the sweet and vegetal notes of the green tea leaves. The tea delivers a flavor that is similar to mild coffees. This type of green tea also has a fuller body than other lighter green teas.
Gunpowder Green Tea
Gunpowder tea is a Chinese tea known for its unique pellet-like shape. The leaves are gently rolled into small pellets that resemble the look of gun pellets. Gunpowder green tea has a strong flavor with smoky notes. This tea is a great choice for warming up on a cold winter day.
Longjing Green Tea
Longjing tea is also known as Dragon Well tea. This Chinese green tea is considered among the best teas in China. It is one of the highest quality green teas available. Dragon Well green tea boasts a nutty flavor and a rich, herbaceous body.
Depending on the production process, the tea may include notes of peas, asparagus, and nuts. High-quality Longjing leaves should be short and round and feature a light fuzz on the leaves. Look for varieties that are pale green or light yellow in color for optimal freshness.
Flavored Green Teas
Many people find that green tea is a bit too bitter or grassy for their tastes. That's where flavored green teas come in. They are typically infused with flowers or citrus fruits to help even out the different taste notes.
Some of the most popular blends include mint green tea, lavender green tea, ginger green tea, and green tea with jasmine flowers. In Asia, many tea drinkers simply add a slice of lemon or a dash of honey to the tea to balance the flavor.
Green Tea Tips
When brewing the best green teas, always make sure to use the proper water temperature. Green teas can develop bitter flavors when brewed using boiling water. Instead, use water between 150 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring teas and delicate green teas should be brewed on the lower end of the temperature spectrum.
It's also a good idea to choose organic green teas. Organic teas are grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides that can alter the flavor of teas. Look for high-quality teas which are non-GMO and pesticide-free.
Always talk to a healthcare professional before using tea or a green tea extract for potential health benefits. Even European certifications and American USDA-certified organic teas can have side effects and cause interactions with certain medications.
Research shows the potential health benefits of green tea range from increased fat burning to boosted immunity. Discover your favorite types of green tea and start brewing today. You can enjoy your cup of tea as-is or add in additional ingredients such as ginger, lemon, or honey to up the flavor profile.