Chinese green tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Many medical practitioners recognize the health benefits of drinking green tea and recommend its consumption to their patients. Traditional Chinese doctors treat Chinese green tea as a herb to use for certain conditions. In ancient times and now, green tea is often prescribed in the Chinese herbal medicine formula. Thus it is both a food and a natural medicine. Green tea is very effective in the treatment of some health problems.
Although many people recognize the benefits of drinking green tea, but they do not know the characteristics of the tea. In my clinic, clients often ask questions about green tea, such as: what green tea is for, is it suitable for them, how to prepare it properly, how much to drink daily, when to drink it and whether green tea will aid with their health condition. In this article, I will share my knowledge of green tea and attempt to clarify how to drink green tea properly.
1. History and culture of green tea
Green tea has been consumed in China for at least 2000 years. It is one of the seven ingredients considered essential for daily living, together with firewood, rice, cooking oil, salt, soya sauce and vinegar. During the Tang Dynasty the green tea market was already very strong and the emperor had defined many regulations for buying and selling tea. Since the 17th century, China is the world’s ‘home town’ of tea. Now green tea is grown and produced in several other countries as well.
2. Health Benefits of Green Tea
i) Helping to clear liver heat and relax the body
Chinese medicine theory states that unflavoured green tea, which is bitter and sweet in taste, has cooling characteristics. As recorded in the Chinese diet therapy textbook of Food and Nutrition, green tea can clear the mind, increase alertness, improve the mood and relax your liver, reducing stress. I suggest drinking a cup of tea with breakfast or lunch, to improve memory, increase energy and balance emotions for the whole day.
If you have any of the symptoms above, I suggest you to have green tea or peppermint green tea.
ii) Help to clear heat and toxins from the digestive system and help bowel movement
Green tea clears food in your digestive system and reduces cholesterol. A cup or two of green tea is particularly recommended after a heavy, rich meal, to clear oils. I also recommend drinking green tea if you are passing pungent wind, bad breath, ulcers in the mouth and constipation, these are indications of stagnant toxins or heat in the large intestine. I suggest that if you suffer from digestive problems, drink green tea, fresh lemon green tea, or honey green tea.
There is a famous quote “If you want to be more healthy, you need to have an empty intestine”.
iii) Help to clear toxins from the body
Daily consumption of green tea can clear everyday chemicals from our system. These chemicals include pollution, alcohol and some artificial food additives.
iv) Helping to clear summer heat
During summer months, people are often thirsty, have dry skin, get headaches and are constipated. These are symptoms associated with too much heat in the body. Green tea can help cool the body during this hot and dry season. In China, iced green tea or chrysanthemum green tea is a popular drink in summer. You can make these refreshing drinks at home simply by refrigerating green tea and adding dried chrysanthemum flowers. You can sweeten the tea by adding ice sugar, which also have cooling properties. However, using sugar is not recommended if you are diabetic.
v) Green tea boosts the immune system
Traditional Chinese medical theory has recommended consuming green tea to prevent disease for over 2000 years, as it clears toxins. Reduction in toxins leads to reduced diseases. At this point, traditional Chinese medicine and modern science meet, as medical studies confirm that green tea is rich in antioxidants which boost the immune system. For this function, adding one teaspoon of Gogi berries to the tea increases its immune strengthening effects, and increases longevity. In China, many older people drink this mix.
i) How to choose green tea
There are various types of green teas from China and other place throughout the world. In Chinese market, the following green teas are popular: Bi lou chun, long jing and tei guan yin . Before you buy green tea, you can usually try the tea to see which one you like. Fresh green tea leaves are more effective. Traditionally, Chinese people drink fresh green tea leaves.
ii) How to prepare green tea
a) Hot green tea
Place 1-2 teaspoons of green tea leaves in a teacup. Do not add 100 degree boiling water, it will damage the tea leaves, reducing the health properties and the aroma of the tea. The ideal temperature is 70-80 degrees. Allow the tea to sit for 5 minutes. If you are using tea leaves, wait until the leaves settle at the bottom of the cup, this indicates that the leaves are cooked well and that the tea is ready to drink.
Effects: Refreshens the brain; relaxes the body; improves energy; helps digestion.
b) Cold green tea
To make this tea, you following the same steps as the hot green tea mentioned above. After this you can add 1 or 2 ice sugar. Leave the tea on the bench to naturally cool or place in the refrigerator.
Effects: Clears the lungs and large intestine; relieves the summer heat.
c) Lemon green tea
For this tea, you can make hot green tea as mentioned above. Add 1 slice of lemon to the green tea and let sit for 5 minutes.
Effects: Clear the large intestine; help reduce cholesterol.
d) Peppermint green tea
You can make this tea by following the steps for hot green tea. After this, you can add 1 teaspoon of peppermint leaves into the hot tea. After 5 minutes it is ready to drink.
Effects: Cools the liver; clears body heat; relaxes the body; improves energy.
e) Goji berry or wolf berry green tea
For this tea, firstly make the hot green tea. Add 1 or 2 teaspoon of goji berries. Let the tea sit for 5 minutes.
Effects: Tonify’s the liver and kidney; increase energy and immune system; anti-aging. This tea is very popular in China.
i) Natural green tea contains caffeine. It is best to avoid drinking it in the late afternoon or evening, as it can affect sleep.
ii) Children under 12 are advised not to drink strong green tea, they can try mild green tea or avoid it.
iii) If you are unsure of whether you should drink green tea for your individual health condition, please contact your experienced TCM practitioner.
Green tea is not only used as a beverage, in Ancient history of China green tea was also used to clear the mouth, gum and teeth after meals. This was shown in Ancient Chinese films and books that green tea was very popular in wealthy families, used after eating. It was very popular in films to see the housekeeper bring the mother and father warm green tea to clean their mouth by rinsing a few times and spitting it out, the rest of the tea was then drunk to clear their body.