Green tea is famous for being a nutritious, delicious, detoxifying drink that is accessible to many. What’s so awesome about green tea is the many ways it can be consumed, used, and whipped up to form awesome recipes. From making soothing masks with matcha powder to fighting inflammation with a lemon and green tea combination, here is some handy information on the history, uses, and benefits of green tea.
A Quick History of Green Tea
Because there are so many different cultures and countries which have consumed tea during even prehistoric times, the earliest roots can be traced to its presence in Lebanon during the Shang dynasty (1600 B.C. to 1046 B.C.) – however in the case of green tea, it is said that it has existed even in pre-dynastic times from the ruler of the legendary Emperor Shennong.
More concrete proof of the presence of green tea in older times can be seen in the work of Lu Yu (A Chinese man who is known as the Sage of Tea), as he wrote “Tea Classic”, a book during the Tang Dynasty (600 to 900 AD). Another book, “Kissa Yojoki” or “Book of Tea” also mentions green tea, along with its benefits for vital organs, and various kinds of other tips on dealing with and brewing tea.
The Benefits and Wonders of Green Tea
Green tea has high amounts of polyphenols – 30% of every gulp you take is made up of them, in fact. “Polyphenols” is a name given to a series of chemicals that plants naturally possess. You can break them down into four more groups; flavonoids, stilbenes, lignans, and phenolic acids. When consumed, these chemicals play a role as antioxidants in bodies – and antioxidants are famed for fighting against inflammation and cell damage from free radicals, which is what ultimately contributes to age and illnesses.
These antioxidants play a key role in preventing certain diseases (though only aiding in preventing, there is no guarantee that it will 100% prevent them) such as cancer – particularly colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. However, it’s best to drink green tea just plain to reap these benefits, as adding milk lowers the number of antioxidants you receive from the green tea.
Another aspect that makes up green tea is caffeine. It has significantly less caffeine than black coffee does, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t enough to reap you benefits. When you drink green tea, you won’t feel as nervous or shaky as you normally would with a cup of joe, but the amount of caffeine it delivers is still enough to increase the number of neurons fired in your brain, and lets you have a higher dose of norepinephrine and dopamine, making you feel happier and more energetic. The energy that green tea provides is more stable than the burst that coffee gives.
With all the added activity green tea promotes in your brain, it could also help prevent other diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Catechins found in the drink are good at getting rid of bacteria, which then wards off unwanted diseases and viruses such as the flu, and even lessen dental problems – giving you fewer cavities, and possibly better breath.
Green tea has also been proven to be a great fat burner, as consuming enough of it can increase the rate that your metabolism operates, according to some studies. It also helps you make use of your fat stored in your body, making them easier to access as they come from your fat tissues – which should be considered for those looking to avoid obesity. Overall, when you drink enough green tea before sports or a physically strenuous activity, you’ll likely feel that it will enhance your overall performance (you have more energy to perform laborious tasks). It also reduces blood sugar levels, making it the perfect beverage (without added sugar, of course) for anyone who has diabetes or is insulin resistant.
It doesn’t end there – aside from aiding the brain and one’s overall fitness, green tea also has Vitamin B and fights against problems regarding the cardiovascular system, such as strokes, and heart disease. These two ailments combined are the most prevalent reasons for mortality. Consuming enough of it aids in normalizing levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. With all these advantages combined, green tea could do a one generally awesome thing: it may add more years to your lifespan. It’s a great beverage to supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle and reap all these benefits from.
What Can You Do with Green Tea?
Aside from drinking it, green tea (especially green tea leaves) has a myriad of uses.
- For those who’ve had a long day at work and look like they have puffy eyes or have dark circles around them, after drinking a cup of green tea, you can use the bags (after they’ve cooled) on top of your closed eyelids and leave them there for 15 minutes. The tannins found in green tea have the power to reduce swelling by minimizing blood vessel dilation, thus shrinking tissue.
- You can use this shrinking benefit of green tea by making a facial mask or scrub out of it. Using pure matcha powder, you can combine it with aloe-Vera and make a paste, which you can spread around your face. If you just have leaves that you’ve boiled, you can add white sugar and some water and scrub off the dead skin cells on your face, all the while tightening it with those tannins. This is an excellent way to prevent acne.
- Got a rash? A sunburn? Or perhaps your feet have gone through a whole day’s worth of walking and have rubbed up too much on your shoes or socks. If you’ve got extra green tea leaves to spare, boil them and apply the green tea on the affected area using a cloth – or if you’re brave, soak it in once the liquid has cooled. Your skin has will likely feel better after. Plus, it works as a deodorant, an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent, leaving your skin squeaky clean.
- For around the house uses, green tea is also a good odor buster. Leave some green tea leaves in a breathable cheesecloth in your refrigerator, and your chiller will smell a lot better overnight. It also acts as an absorbent for humidity, so you can hang a bag of it in a muggy room, and it will soak up the extra humidity.
- The best part about green tea is that it isn’t limited to just the beverage, or cosmetic/household uses. It can also be added to desserts and other wonderful drinks as matcha powder, and the possibilities are endless.
A Refreshing Green Tea Lemonade
Green tea lemonade seems a well-loved drink in Starbucks, labeled the “Teavana® Shaken Iced Green Tea Lemonade”. An entire 16 Fl oz of it is 90 calories, with 20 grams of sodium, and 23 grams of carbohydrates – 22 grams of those are from sugar. As for caffeine, it offers around 25 to 30 mg. Starbucks indicates that its ingredients are mostly made from ice, lemonade base (which is broken down to lemon juice, water, sugar, lemon oil), and a combination of different brewed green teas and other leaves, and liquid cane sugar containing some potassium sorbate and citric acid.
Instead of having to go to Starbucks to get your fix of their green tea lemonade, you can learn how to make it yourself – unless you want to earn a reward by using a Starbucks card daily or you may order from their store through an app for ultimate convenience. You can have your own handcrafted green tea blend of Starbucks by combining loose leaf lemongrass, spearmint, and green tea (gyokuro or sencha works fine either way) – or you can get it all in one by buying a Tazo Green Tea Keurig K-Cup, which is what Starbucks uses.
Brew one cup of green tea. Add honey or white sugar to sweeten and set aside to cool. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice from 1 to 2 lemons to make a third cup of lemonade. Add equal parts of sweetened green tea, lemon, and ice, and shake in a mixer. Not only does this come out cheaper than buying the drink from Starbucks, its ingredients are much simpler. When making green tea, it’s best not to reserve it for the next day, but to drink it right away to make the most out of its nutritional value, as it decreases over time.
The Best Recipe for an Iced Green Tea Latte
An Iced Green Tea Latte is a little different from the usual green tea brewing process – and here’s the recipe. To make an iced green tea latte, first, you need a cup of milk – that can be any kind of milk you like -, a tablespoon of vanilla syrup, a teaspoon (or 2) of matcha powder, and a cup of ice.
Matcha will form lumps if you don’t have the appropriate matcha mixer, which can be found on Amazon. You can also use a food sifter, and then a whisk (an electric one is fine too) for the dry powder. Whisking in some warm water to the matcha powder before adding milk also helps. But really, all you must do is combine those three ingredients, mix them together well, top off with ice, and sip.
How Many Calories There are In an Iced Green Tea Latte – Plus Nutrition Facts
If you were to consume a Green Tea Latte from Starbucks, that would be 240 calories down the hatch, along with 7 grams of total fat, 4.5 of which is saturated fat. There is no trans-fat indicated on its nutrition label. The cholesterol of this drink numbers at 25 mg, while sodium is 160 mg. Its total carbohydrate comprises 34 grams, 1 gram of which makes up the dietary fiber, the other 32 is from sugar. You’ll get 12 grams of protein from the entire 16 Fl oz drink, with 80 grams of caffeine.
If you were to make your own Iced Green Tea Latte, you can lower your calorie intake by choosing to add less sugar or using an alternative instead of full cream milk.
Green Tea Options in Starbucks
When going to Starbucks, you have many options – even when it comes to Green Tea. So far, if you want something with green tea, you can choose between the following:
- Emperor's Cloud and Mist® Green Tea
- Teavana® Shaken Strawberry Green Tea Infusion
- Teavana® Shaken Strawberry Green Tea Infusion Lemonade
- Teavana® Shaken Iced Green Tea Lemonade
- Teavana® Shaken Iced Green Tea
- Matcha Lemonade
- Organic Jade Citrus Mint™ Brewed Tea
- Iced Green Tea Latte
- Green Tea Latte
- Jade Citrus Mint Green Tea
The Difference Between Matcha Powder and Green Tea
Although matcha powder and brewed green tea come from the same plant, the cultivation of these two products are very different, and so are their names. The powdered version of the green tea leaf plant is called “Matcha” (抹茶), while the actual tea leaves that aren’t powdered and are instead brewed are called “Sencha” (煎茶).
Plants that are planned to yield matcha are raised under the shade, which is costly to do because of the purchasing of the shades, as well as the labor cost of maintenance in of these shades. Therefore, matcha powder is more expensive than regular loose green tea leaves. The shade also gives matcha a higher Theanine count, which gives the drink an umami flavor.
Plants that are planned to yield green tea leaves are raised under the sun, which is a simpler and cheaper process than their matcha counterparts. These leaves grow to have more catechin, which gives it its unique bitterness, as well as its antioxidant properties.
Learning how to make your own drinks with green tea can truly be a gift, and you could possibly even make a career out of it. It’s also much cheaper to do in the long term compared to buying a drink every day. Join others in their discovery of the many uses of green tea by taking part in green tea enthusiast groups, or visit Japan, where almost everyone is a green tea enthusiast.