We are often asked what are the health benefits of drinking green tea? Is green tea good for you? What does green tea do?
There are a lot of claims about tea, especially green tea, and some of them might be described as ill-researched or "health-washing". I'm very concerned that the information you get from us at Rare Tea is clear and does not fall under those categories.
I am not a health professional or a doctor. I do have a Master's degree but it's in Philosophy, not Chemistry. Most people just call me the Tea Lady. I'm the CEO of Rare Tea which I founded in 2004. I've been working in tea since the end of the last millennium and I have learnt a few things along the way. Tea is not just business, it's my life. These are my opinions gained in 20 years of working with producers, customers, restaurants, chefs and scientists.
Is it actually tea?
All tea is made for the same plant. Green tea, white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, black tea, pu'er tea – are all crafted from the leaves of the same plant, just like all wine is made from grapes. Tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. An evergreen shrub native to East Asia but now cultivated around the world, it's rich in polyphenols which are a type of antioxidant. Tea also contains some minerals including potassium, calcium and iron.
Herbal infusions like Camomile, mint, lemon herbs, flowers, dried fruits etc. are not strictly speaking teas- and thus have their own separate medicinal properties. Herbal infusions (tisanes) cannot be included alongside the health benefits of drinking tea - Camellia sinensis. Many tea drinks like Bubble Tea may not actually contain any tea at all or negligible amounts. Some are comprised of just sugar, artificial flavourings and additives. They are more like liquid sweets (candy) than tea.
Green tea and health
Tea has been used for millennia as a medicine. Regular tea drinking has been linked to lower rates of cardio vascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Tea also makes you feel good. Tea is a rich source of the amino acid L-theanine, which is linked to mood enhancement. It is understood to be even more effective when combined with caffeine (all tea made from Camellia sinensis contains caffeine and L-theanine).
Green tea specifically is high in a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which can improve memory, attention and mood.
Loose leaf green tea
I would highly recommend drinking green loose leaf tea, rather than green teabags so that you are just drinking the tea, not the bag as well. Even biodegrabable, organic teabags have been industrially manufactured using chemical and solvents. The packaging might say organic tea and biodegradable packaging but that isn't the whole story.
A machine harvested and industrially processed tea may not retain the same precious amino acids and catechins as a carefully hand crafted leaf.
None of the tea gardens we partner with use pesticides or herbicides (you can read more about our approach to organic tea here). The best flavoured green teas are not churned out by machines, they are lovingly hand crafted by artisans. We select all our teas directly from the farm, for flavour. As Ferran Adria once said at a food conference I attended in Copenhagen – if you want to seek out the best flavours, seek out the best farmers. If they love the land, they will put that love into what they grow. Sustainability and flavour go hand in hand.
I strongly believe that the best tasting teas are also the best for you.
If you take the industrially grown and produced green tea bag and compare it to a carefully crafted leaf green tea – made with the same craft and in the same place for thousands of years without the use of noxious chemicals or industrial machinery - it not only tastes better (which makes you feel better) but the more gentler processing will retain more of the leaves natural goodness. I can't prove this. There have been no experiments comparing industrial leaf with handcrafted - I can't afford to commission the research, but this is my humble Tea Lady opinion.
All the best,