It’s no secret that I am an avid green tea connoisseur. Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, only falling second to water. Green tea is something that I have been drinking almost daily for over 7 years with no plans of stopping anytime soon. The taste, smell, energy, focus and health benefits I get from green tea make it an absolute staple in my daily routine.
What is Green Tea?
Green tea is composed of unfermented Camellia Sinensis, leaves from a type of evergreen shrub or small tree originating in China. Although most other types of tea varieties including white, black and oolong all come from a variation of the Camellia Sinensis plant, green teas are prepared differently and have not undergone fermentation when compared to other teas. This allows the green tea to retain the highest concentrations of antioxidants because the tea has been steamed to stop the fermentation process.
I’m sure you’ve heard that green tea is good for you but here are a few interesting facts and reasons why I prefer green tea over any other caffeinated beverage including coffee.
Green tea is packed with antioxidants. I’m sure you’ve heard antioxidants are good for you but how many of you actually know why?
In simplest terms, antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable atoms with free electrons that has a tendency to bond with other stable atoms creating additional unstable atoms. Free radicals are produced from oxidative stress causing cellular degeneration which can lead to illness and disease when antioxidants are not present to neutralize the free radicals.
Antioxidants are composed of polyphenols. Polyphenols, a main component in antioxidants are micronutrients with antioxidant properties mainly responsible for the long list of health benefits associated with green tea. These benefits include lower cholesterol, improved blood flow, decreased risk of heart disease, stabilize blood sugar in diabetes patients and the most widely studied benefit; prevention of various cancers by neutralizing free radicals (Kuriyama et al. 2006).
For the highest level of antioxidants, try matcha green tea. Matcha is a concentrated green tea powder made from the ground leaf of the Camellia Sinesis plant and contains up to 10x the antioxidants as regular green tea!
2. Calorie Free and can aid in weight loss
Green tea is calorie free unless you add sweetener to your tea. Green tea is usually enjoyed without any sweetener or milk added unlike many other teas. Replace your sugary ice tea with plain green tea to save yourself hundreds of calories.
Not only is green tea free from calories, it can aid in fat loss when in a caloric deficit established through a healthy diet and exercise. The fat loss potential of green tea likely comes from the high level of antioxidants as well as the mild stimulatory effect from the caffeine content. I’m not a big fan of fat burning supplements because they are mostly clever marketing but there is a reason why every one has some form of green tea extract.
3. Caffeine + L-Theanine – My preferred pre-workout
This is certainly my personal favourite benefit of green tea.
Green tea has a mild stimulatory effect from the caffeine content. Although lower in caffeine than black tea (25-48 mg/cup) or coffee (95-165 mg/cup), green tea contains approximately 25-29 mg/cup which is highly dependant on the amount of tea used and how long it is brewed for (Source: Mayo Clinic).
The reason I prefer green tea over black tea or coffee is the calm but energetic and focused stimulatory effect I get from the caffeine content when it is naturally paired with L-Theanine.
L-Theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that has a calming synergistic effect when paired with caffeine. When used in combination with caffeine, L-Theanine promotes an increased attention, focus, cognition and reduces the anxiety and jitters caused from caffeine.
To get a similar dosing of caffeine as a cup of coffee, I pour a generous amount loose leaf green tea into a French press, it makes about 1 litre of tea and contains around 100-150 mg of caffeine. If that still doesn’t do it for you, add in a scoop of matcha which is concentrated green tea powder for a real caffeine kick. The caffeine buzz is very different from coffee giving a smooth, focused and energetic experience. This is why I use green tea as a pre-workout drink and prefer the effects over coffee.
Where can you find green tea?
Bagged green tea can be found at any grocery or health food store but for higher quality loose leaf teas or matcha powder you will have to find a specialized tea boutique.
I try my best to support local companies that I genuinely believe in and use their products. I’ve had nothing but good things to say about TotaliTEA. They are a local Calgary, AB based tea boutique with a large variety of teas in-store and online, offering shipping options.
My personal favourite type of green tea is the organic Genmaicha with roasted brown rice or organic matcha powder from TotaliTEA!
Checkout their online store below!
Baladia E, Basulto J, Manera M, Martinez R, Calbet D. Effect of green tea or green tea extract consumption on body weight and body composition: systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Hosp. 2014; 2993):479-90
Kuriyama S, Shimazu T, Ohmori K, Kikuchi N, Nakaya N, Nishino Y, Tsubono Y, Tsuji I. Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer and all causes in Japan: the Ohsaki study. JAMA. 2006;296(10):1255-65.
Mayo Clinic Staff. Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more. [accessed June 20, 2017]. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372?pg=1
Wang H, Wen Y, Du Y, Yan X, Guo H, Rycroft JA, Boon N, Kovacs EM, Mela DJ. Effects of Catechin Enriched Green Tea on Body Composition. Obesity. 2009; 18:773–779.
Yuan JM. Cancer prevention by green tea: evidence from epidemiologic studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013; 98(6 Suppl):1676S-81S.