If there’s one superfood that’s withstood the test of time, it’s green tea. Long hailed as a source of nutrients for health, vitality and longevity, it’s one of the most favored teas around the world. So, let’s explore what green tea is and why it’s loved by so many.
Where is green tea from?
Green tea is native to China, where its use dates as far back as the Han Dynasty. Today, it’s grown all over the world in places like Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Kenya and others. The diverse climates in these places have given rise to a wide range of harvesting methods, each of which makes for a tea with a unique flavor, aroma and color.
What is green tea?
Like all teas, green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Its distinct look and taste come from a processing technique that involves gently steaming or pan-firing the leaves to help preserve their natural color and delicate flavor—which can include subtle hints of grassy, sweet, floral or nutty notes depending on the type and how it’s brewed.
What makes green tea so special though, is that it’s exceptionally high in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. And if cozying up with a hot brew isn’t your thing, you can still reap the benefits of these nutrients via powders and supplements.
6 health benefits of green tea
1. Green tea promotes heart health*
While drinking green tea won’t make up for a poor diet or a lack of exercise, it does offer some promising heart health benefits according to some research.* Most of these benefits come from catechins, compounds with that behave like antioxidants to help stave off free radicals that can damage cells and cause illness. It’s especially high in the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been linked to reduced blood pressure and LDL cholesterol – aka the bad type that can increase the risk for heart-related conditions.*
2. Green tea helps keep your brain healthy*
If you’re feeling a little foggy or just want to focus better, green tea might be just what you need.* That’s because it contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes calm and relaxation on its own, and mental clarity and alertness—without the jitters—when paired with the caffeine found in some blends.*
3. Green tea helps improve mood*
Whether it’s bleak weather or life’s stressors that have you feeling a bit blah, green tea may let you sip your way to a sunnier mindset. Not only does L-theanine help keep your mind sharp, but it can also help brighten your mood*, possibly by increasing levels of dopamine and serotonin, your brain’s feel-good chemicals *
4. Green tea supports a better night’s rest*
What else can green tea’s L-theanine do? It may help lull you to sleep at night. Drinking green tea in the afternoon (yep, during the day!) can reduce stress hormone levels, helping you unwind and feel relaxed for better zZz’s.* One important caveat: be mindful of the type of green tea you choose. The amount of caffeine in most green teas is generally low compared to coffee or other caffeinated beverages so should be out of your system by night. But if you’re sensitive to caffeine, choose a blend that’s decaffeinated or has very low amounts.
5. Green tea supports healthy metabolism*
Promoting a healthy weight and metabolism are among the most talked about—and sought-after—potential benefits of green tea. The catechins seem to have a mild thermogenic effect, meaning they may increase your metabolism and the rate you burn calories, according to some research.* How much green tea is needed and how big of an influence it has is still being studied, but adding green tea to a healthy diet and regular exercise may help you maintain a healthy weight.
6. Green tea promotes healthy skin*
Looking for something to support your skin inside and out? Thanks to their potent polyphenols (a type of antioxidant), green tea may be just the ticket.* The powerful antioxidants help reduce free radical damage from stressors like the sun and pollution that can cause dry, dull and prematurely aged skin. Another benefit? These antioxidants help maintain a strong, healthy skin barrier to lock in your natural moisture for a more supple appearance. Bottoms up!
What are the different types of green tea?
Some of the most popular green teas include:
- Sencha: a green tea grown in Japan that has a mild, grassy flavor.
- Genmaicha: a green tea blended with toasted brown rice to give it a nutty flavor.
- Matcha: a fine powder made from green tea grown in the shade to give it an umami flavor. Its fine consistency means it can be dissolved in water rather than steeped. Drinking the actual leaves this way gives you a higher dose of antioxidants in each cup.
- Gyokuro: a green tea grown in the shade for a delicate, sweet flavor—considered one of the highest quality options due to its harvesting process.
- Gunpowder: a green tea with a light, grassy flavor that comes in compressed pellets—one of the most popular teas in China.
- Dragonwell: a type of green tea from China and has a nutty, buttery flavor.
- Bancha: a low-quality green tea made from leaves and stems that give it a mild, bitter flavor.
Are there any health risks to green tea?
Like anything, green tea isn’t for everyone. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, it’s best to limit or avoid your intake, since most do contain some. Green tea is also not recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding due to its caffeine content. Some prescription medications like blood thinners and stimulants can have negative interactions with green tea, so it’s best to connect with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Gabby is a Nutritionist with a master’s degree in strategic communications. She loves using her nutrition-fluency with storytelling to encourage positive change. Before Persona, she worked at a mental health clinic helping clients manage stress, anxiety and other mental health issues through diet.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.