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Green Tea

Wouldn’t it be great to find a great tasting beverage that has the potential to improve your health? There is such a beverage – tea. Research has indicated that tea is healthier than water. This definitely a positive point since tea has more flavor. So, what are the potential health benefits?

Research has found that tea is healthier for your body than water. Surprising, since popular consensus states water is the healthiest beverage for your body. Findings have been reported that tea rehydrates the body as well as provides disease-fighting antioxidants. Tea may offer protection against stroke, heart disease, and several types of cancers.

Do you want more reasons to drink tea? Drinking tea has potential benefits such as boost the immune system as well as strengthen teeth and bones. Tea may also improve artery function by aiding in blocking LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (good cholesterol).

How about drinking green tea? Research has found that senior citizens in Japan who consumed one or more cups of green tea per day were less likely to present cognitive and memory problems. Green tea contains EGCG, which appears to reduce the production of a toxic protein that clogs the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.

All these healthy reasons make me want to get my infuser and brew a cup of tea. Health benefits and delicious taste make this an excellent beverage of choice. If only everything that tasted good proved to be healthy for us.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A classic OLS/ETS blog entry originally published 01.23.2009

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Your first reaction to the article title will be, “Who says I can’t enjoy green tea in the Fall?” And to that I say, “A host of tea experts out there.” Yep, they tell you that green tea is best when fresh, especially if it’s a first flush green tea. Which is usually harvested between March and May, depending on where it’s grown. And said to have a fairly short shelf life, again according to those experts. The reality is a little different. Meaning that yes, you can enjoy green tea in the Fall!

The Myth of First Flush Being Best

A bit of Dragon Pearl Green Tea while leaf peeping sounds ideal! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A bit of Dragon Pearl Green Tea while leaf peeping sounds ideal! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

There’s no doubt that first flush teas (the first spurt of growth on the tea plants after they awaken from Winter dormancy) are special. They have a delicate flavor not matched by later flushes. However, that doesn’t mean those later flushes (2 to 4, depending on the tea cultivar and where they are grown) aren’t enjoyable. In fact, I have often found them to be even more enjoyable – stronger flavors and often totally different profiles. And there is a wide variety of green tea, and getting wider every day due to increasing demand.

Various taste descriptions (for green teas that don’t have flowers, fruits, spices, etc., added to them) of later flushes:

  • a slightly sweet taste with a mild nutty undertone
  • a distinctive nutty/oak taste (Superior Gunpowder)
  • a light taste
  • full and round, with honey like sweetness, mild astringency and notes of orchid (White Eagle Long Life)
  • Various types of green tea taste different, much like how different brands of chocolate taste different. Some taste nutty, others taste earthy, others taste like clear grass without the bite.
  • a full flavor and a satisfying light refreshing character (Gyokuro)
  • light, smooth, with reasonable depth and body (Sencha)

The Myth of the Short Shelf Life

Green teas will often store as well as black teas. Keep them in a cool place, in an airtight container (preferably a plastic pouch, not a Ziploc bag though, so you can squeeze out excess air before resealing), and away from light (unless the pouch is made of opaque plastic). You should be able to open them, take some of the dry tea leaves out for infusing, and then reseal the package (squeezing out excess air) without any degradation of the tea quality.

Bottom Line

Go for a richer flavor, infuse the tea properly (160°F for 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the type of green tea – see vendor’s instructions or consult someone), and enjoy that healthy (or so the multitude of claims go) green tea anytime, including in the Fall!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In places like the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent here in the United States green tea is still something of a newcomer, although it’s gained a great deal of popularity in recent years. In Japan, the equation is flipped. While black tea and other varieties are not completely unknown there, the Japanese are best known for growing and consuming one kind of tea – and that would be green.

Japanese teas (ETS image)

Japanese teas (ETS image)

So perhaps it’s not surprising that The World Green Tea Association makes its headquarters in Japan. At their home in virtual space, which thankfully has an English version, they describe themselves, in part, as, “an organization established by the government of Shizuoka Prefecture to further the development of green tea production, culture, and understanding through the spread of green tea’s traditions and knowledge of its healthful and commercial properties.” The Shizuoka Prefecture region, as they remark, is Japan’s top producer and distributor of green tea.

One of the events the group sponsors is the World O-CHA (Tea) Festival. The spring festival was held in May 2013 and the fall festival in November and was the fifth such event. Presumably there will be more. Among the events that made up the festival were a green tea contest, a trade fair, and tea industry and culture exchange tours to various points throughout the region. Find out more about past and future events here.

While trade organizations often tend to be geared more toward members of the industry they serve, The World Green Tea Association’s web site is worth a look even if you’re a more casual observer. I made a quick skim through the site and found a variety of articles on various aspects of tea. Some are rather basic, such as cooking with tea or making desserts using tea. Others are kind of off the wall, including brief primers on using tea trees to make a fence, doing bonsai with tea trees and cooking with tea leaves that have already been used to make tea. All that and much more is located right here.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jasmine Dragon Tears Green Tea (ETS Image)

Jasmine Dragon Tears Green Tea (ETS Image)

While many of us tend to reach for the word depression any time we feel “blue” or “down,” the truth is that real depression is a serious medical issue. The National Institutes of Health describes the problem in the following terms: “Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Each year about 6.7% of U.S adults experience major depressive disorder.”

It might be grasping a bit to suggest that drinking a few cups of green tea are enough to resolve such a significant problem, but a group of researchers have found that green tea may be of some help in alleviating the symptoms of depression. The study was carried out by Chinese researchers at Shandong University in Shandong, China, and their results were recently published in the Nutrition Journal.

Researchers referred to previous studies that found that green tea “reduced the prevalence of depressive symptoms, as well as produced antidepressant-like effects in rodents.” However, it appears that no rodents were used in this latest study. Instead the study was conducted on 74 healthy human being types over a period of five weeks. Some lucky participants in the study were given a powdered form of Chinese green tea and the unlucky ones had to make do with a placebo.

After all of this researchers came to the conclusion that “chronic green tea increased the reward learning and prevented the depressive symptoms. These results also raised the possibility that supplementary administration of green tea might reverse the development of depression.” Researchers focused more on the polyphenols in tea, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), as the compounds that provided these benefits and did not mention theanine (except in a reference to another study). However, given that the theanine in tea has been found to produce feelings of relaxation and calm in tea drinkers, it’s not totally unreasonable to assume that it can have some benefits in fighting depression.

For the Reader’s Digest version of all of this, take a look at the abstract. If you’re made of stronger stuff you can look at more detailed results from the study, here.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Map of Sri Lanka.

Map of Sri Lanka.

A vendor posted on Twitter that they carried in their product line a sencha that was grown and processed in Sri Lanka. Needless to say, that raised a few eyebrows, especially among those carrying and selling sencha from Japan. Time to take a closer look.

First, what is “sencha”? Some sources say it simply means “common tea.” It’s a staple in many Japanese households, a favorite due to its tang, freshness, high uniformity of the leaves, and deep emerald hue. Once roasted as part of the preliminary processing, it is now steam treated, processed further, and finally pan-fried. So, can you get this type of tea with the same quality (or even higher) from leaves grown elsewhere? It seems so. But that’s not the only question here.

Why even bother? Apparently, there are still folks out there who are concerned with radiation in tea leaves from Japan. Whether that concern has merit or not I cannot address here, and it’s immaterial except to explain the mushrooming of Ceylon Sencha options now available. Those who are really into sencha and feel that radiation is still an issue need an alternative to the Japanese sencha. They are, in essence, creating a demand in the tea market. The producers seem to have heard them.

An online search for “Ceylon Sencha” turned up page after page of results. The typical description was:

Delicate, sencha-like green tea from Sri Lanka. Naturally sweet taste, best steeped for no more than 2 minutes at about 180 degrees F.

Reviews range from raves to revulsion. Not surprising. There are those who drink sencha as their daily cuppa green tea and accept a level of quality that may be a bit more ordinary. And then there are those for whom sencha is almost sacred, that the quality and flavor are almost more important to them than the grades their kids get in school, being promoted at work, or having their IRA actually grow in value. For them, this green tea being touted as “sencha” is high blasphemy. Thus it is with tea, no matter what type you are talking about. There are teas that get popular and then get “copied” to take advantage of that, and there are tea terms that get used in a more general way than some of us think they should be. (See my article on Silver Needles posted recently.)

Here, it seems to be the tea growers in Sri Lanka and the vendors who are both addressing a demand in the tea market, using “sencha” as the draw among green tea lovers. You, the tea drinker, will be the one to determine if they have been successful. Based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews out there, I would say they have been.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The notion that tea might be of some use in fighting against Alzheimer’s disease is not a new one. I first wrote about it at this site several years ago and then touched on the subject again early last year. As I noted in that first article, the Alzheimer’s Association says there are 5.2 million people in the United States who suffer from the disease and they now expect that by 2050 that number may nearly triple.

Green Tea May Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Say Four New Studies (screen capture from site)

Green Tea May Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, Say Four New Studies (screen capture from site)

The first article cited four studies that looked at the beneficial effects of tea on Alzheimer’s while the second investigated how green tea and red laser light might be of help in fighting the disease. And while I don’t follow the links between tea and health as much as I used to, I couldn’t help noticing a report in Forbes recently that cited several new studies that explore the link between green tea and Alzheimer’s.

A Swiss study which was reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested “the neural effects of green tea extract on brain activation in humans” who performed working memory tasks following the consumption of the extract. Their results “suggest that green tea extract may modulate brain activity in the DLPFC, a key area that mediates working memory processing in the human brain.”

In a study reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry British researchers at the University of Leeds examined the EGCG from green tea and reservatrol, a component that’s found in red wine. As noted in a release from the university, which spells things out in layperson’s terms, “researchers identified the process which allows harmful clumps of protein to latch on to brain cells, causing them to die” and “were able to interrupt this pathway using the purified extracts of EGCG from green tea and resveratrol from red wine.”

Another study, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) that’s so common in green tea helps to prevent “the accumulation of amyloid plaques that scientists believe cause the brain deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Green Tea Sampler (ETS image)

Green Tea Sampler (ETS image)

If you look at this nifty chart, you’ll see that the interest in green tea – at least as measured by Web searches – peaked in early 2005, dipped a bit over the course of the next few years and has been mostly on the rise since then. It’s also safe to say, though I don’t have the research at hand to back such a statement, that green tea is by far the most popular of the major types of tea. The article I’m about to discuss makes the same claim so there’s obviously something to it.

It’s also no secret that much, if not most, of the flurry of interest in green tea has to do with its beneficial effects on health – be they real or alleged. So it was interesting to see recently that one of our national papers of record – the New York Timestook a look at how well different types of tea stack up when it comes to the compounds that make tea healthy.

The article was based on findings by ConsumerLab.com, which you can access (for a price) here. According to the summary in that national paper of record, the study found that “green tea can vary widely from one cup to the next.” Which might be a case of restating the obvious more than just a bit, but let’s look into things a little deeper.

One of the findings of the study, which might interest newcomers to tea drinking but which shouldn’t be too surprising to old hands, is that loose leaf teas are the “most potent source of antioxidants like epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG.” Tea bags made by “big” tea companies are said to be a more cost efficient source of said compounds although I’m among those who often find them to be a bit lacking in the flavor department.

As for the bottled teas, well, many of these are just the thing if you’re looking to meet your daily intake of sugar but when it comes to allegedly health-giving compounds they don’t always stack up quite so well. One bottled variety that was examined contained almost no EGCG, while another actually contained about one-third of the catechins promised on the label. By comparison a single serving of a high-quality Japanese green tea contained more than twice as much catechins as the latter.

Other concerns about green tea included the relatively high concentrations of lead found in the leaves, though scientists noted that the way tea is prepared and consumed this is not as much of an issue as it could be.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Go green - tea, that is!! (ETS image)

Go green – tea, that is!! (ETS image)

I’m drinking green tea again. Yes, I know there’s probably no need to alert the national news media and so I’m going to hold off on the news conference for now. But bear with me while I explain why this seems worthy of mentioning.

I have never made any secret of my fondness for black tea. If I were marooned on a desert island (probably won’t happen) and could only take one type of tea with me, it would be black – no question about it. But for the longest time I found that after a long bout of drinking black tea I had to offset it with another bout of green tea. And then back to black – and so on.

Then something changed. You can read the whole thrilling story in my most recent paean to black tea, located here. But to summarize, I went through a very long period, I’m not sure how long, but many, many months, when I drank only black tea and didn’t really have any desire to switch over to green tea. I theorized that this might have something to do with the onset of cold weather, such as it is here in this balmy corner of Arizona.

There may actually be something to that, now that you mention it. It’s the Memorial Day weekend as I write this and though we haven’t hit the hundred degree mark yet that milestone will be here soon. Coincidentally – or perhaps not – after a long stint in which I drank absolutely nothing at all besides black tea, I was finally motivated to break out a batch of green and give it a whirl.

Which was just fine, thank you very much. But I still find myself drinking much more black tea than green, regardless of how balmy the weather. Even though I’m drinking green tea as I write this I’m feeling a distinct craving for black. I’m wondering if perhaps my tastes might have changed for good. Or is this just the tail end of one more tea-drinking phase that’s about to give way to the next one? I guess only time will tell.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Green tea, as healthy as it is claimed to be, can engage in some very unfriendly activity with your tummy. While I am not one who drinks tea for health reasons and indeed tend to ignore or pooh-pooh some of the health claims that abound, I can give you plenty of personal anecdotal evidence that there is definitely a problem here.

Steamed Darjeeling is soothing to my tummy. (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Steamed Darjeeling is soothing to my tummy. (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

First, let me point out that there are legions of green teas out there. They are all processed without allowing oxidation of the leaves. Some examples:

  • Steamed Darjeeling — For a rundown on this tea, see my article “The Good and Bad of Steamed Darjeeling Green Tea
  • ChunMee (“precious eyebrows”) — A golden green liquid with a sweet, mellow, and musty flavor that can be extremely bitter if steeped too long or with too hot water. Pairs well with camembert and gorgonzola cheeses. (More info)
  • Green Ceylon — Made from the tea plants growing on Sri Lanka. The tea crop replaced the coffee crop when it succumbed to leaf rust. The green version of Ceylon tea is just as full-bodied as their black version.

The big culprit in green tea seems to be caffeine. Green tea contains about 9 to 50 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. Too much caffeine has been shown to increase the release of gastric acid, causing nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, not to mention the jitters. Also at issue are the higher amounts of polyphenols than in other types of teas. One of these is tannin, which are astringent tasting and even quite bitter.

If you, too, tend to have tummy trouble when drinking too much green tea, you have a couple of options. Brew the tea half-strength. Reduce how much you drink. Consider trying a yellow tea.

While more rare and a bit pricier, yellow tea is a slightly processed green tea that tends to be less grassy tasting than many green teas. This is achieved by harvesting early in the year and letting the teas oxidize slowly, imparting to the liquid a sweet, mellow flavor and a bright yellow color. The leaves will usually be small and unbroken, and the liquid is high in antioxidants, low in caffeine.

Yellow tea belongs to fermented tea. As a great deal of Digestive enzyme occurred during its smothering process, a slow oxidation process, yellow tea is much beneficial for the spleen and stomach. It is good at correcting indigestion, stimulating appetite and helping losing weight.

Worth a try!

Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your physician for your particular needs.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It was a little less than a year ago that I wrote an article in these pages in which I sang the praises of a varied approach to tea drinking. Although at the time I was only alternating between green and black tea. After drinking one of these for a short time I found that I began to crave the other and vice versa.

Estate Tea Sampler - a great way to expand your tea variety. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Estate Tea Sampler – a great way to expand your tea variety. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Then, not so long ago, something changed. But before I get to that I’ll offer a thumbnail description of my evolution as a tea drinker. When I started out I had no idea what tea was, aside from the fact that it came in a bag, many of which were crammed into a box and available for a relative pittance at the grocery store. I had no idea that there was a significant difference between peppermint “tea” and the black stuff and I had no clue that there were a huge number of varieties of tea, some comparable in scope to the best vintages of wine.

All of which very gradually began to become apparent as I started writing about tea and began to look beyond the grocery store shelves. It took some time for me to realize just how vast the world of tea is and how many varieties are out there. I tried to taste as many of these as I could get my hands on and it didn’t hurt that I’d started a web site devoted to tea appreciation. As a result there were many merchants only too happen to send samples.

As time went by I began to realize that there were some types of tea I didn’t like as much. I drank a lot of white tea over the years and a fair amount of puerh but I never really found much that grabbed me in either of these types. I liked some oolong well enough but not so much that that I sought it out.

Which left black tea and green (skipping over the relatively rare yellow, for now), which pretty much comprised my entire world of tea, until recently. At which point, without really being aware that I was doing it, I narrowed my focus to black tea, which I’ve consumed almost exclusively for the last several months.

While I can’t put a finger on why this happened, I’d be willing to place a small wager that it might have something to do with the cooler winter weather and that as spring approaches I might revert to my previous pattern. Which is not to say that I’m breaking out the green tea just yet, although it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea for somewhere not too far down the road.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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