Camellia sinensis, Various spp.
Chinese legend dates green tea back to 2737 BC, when the emperor Shen Nong was boiling water next to an open window, and tea leaves blew through the window and into the pot. He drank the concoction, and enjoyed it so much that tea became a favorite beverage in China.
It was formerly thought that black and green tea were the produce of distinct plants, but they are both prepared from the same plant. Green tea is prepared by exposing the gathered leaves to the air until superfluous moisture is eliminated, when they are roasted over a brisk wood fire and continually stirred until they become moist and flaccid; after this they pass to the rolling table, and are rolled into balls and subjected to pressure which twists them and gets rid of the moisture; they are then shaken out on flat trays, again roasted over a slow and steady charcoal fire, and kept in rapid motion for an hour to an hour and a half, till they assume a dullish green color. After this they are winnowed, screened, and graded into different varieties.
What sets green tea apart is the way it is processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from being oxidized. By contrast, black and oolong tea leaves are made from fermented leaves, which results in the EGCG being converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.
Green Tea as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
The medicinal parts are the very young downy leaves, from which green or black tea is prepared according to the treatment being given.
Green Tea has recently come into prominence as an effective antioxidant. It has been shown to reduce the risk of many forms of cancer, and it has the ability to stabilize blood lipids, making it part of an overall cardiac care regimen. It can also help to prevent plaque buildup on the teeth.
Unproven uses: Internally, Green Tea is used for stomach disorders, migraine, symptoms of fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea when taken as a beverage. It can be used to increase performance (stimulant effect).
Homeopathic Uses: Camellia sinensis is used for cardiac and circulatory conditions, headaches, states of agitation, states of depression and stomach complaints.
Indian Medicine: In India, tea preparations are used for diarrhea, loss of appetite, hyperdipsia, migraine, cardiac pain, fever and fatigue.
Chinese Medicine: In China Green Tea is used to treat migraine, nausea, diarrhea resulting from malaria and digestion problems. It is also used as a cancer preventive.
The infusion is useful to relieve neuralgic headaches.
Green Tea for Weight Loss
Aside from fighting heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, a new study shows that drinking green tea may also fight fat.
The study showed that people who drank a bottle of tea fortified with green tea liquid extract every day for three months lost more body fat than those who drank a bottle of regular Oolong tea.
To prepare a tea, boiling water is poured over a heaped teaspoon of leaf tea, a level teaspoon of crushed leaves or a tea bag and left to draw for 3 to 10 minutes as required. The caffeine is almost completely drawn after approximately 3 minutes. The tannin-containing substance (and with it the antidiarrheal action) increases when the tea is left to brew.
Researchers say the results indicate that substances found in green tea known as catechins may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decreasing body fat.
Culinary Uses of Green Tea
Green tea is usually brewed and drunk as a beverage. Green tea extracts can be taken in capsules and are sometimes used in skin products.
People who are sensitive to, or cautioned to reduce or avoid, caffeine, can use decaf green tea, which is still shown to have the same medicinal properties and qualities.
Taken moderately by healthy individuals, green tea is harmless; however, in excessive quantities it will produce unpleasant nervous and dyspeptic symptoms, the green variety being decidedly the more injurious.
Side effects of tea consumption are possible with persons who have sensitive stomachs, chiefly due to the chlorogenic acid and tannin content. Hyperacidity, gastric irritation, reduction of appetite, as well as obstipation or diarrhea, could be the result of intense tea consumption. These side effects can be generally avoided by the addition of milk (reduction of the chlorogenic acid and other tannins).
Care should be taken with patients that have weakened cardiovascular systems, renal diseases, thyroid hyperfunction, elevated susceptibility to spasm and certain psychic disorders, such as panicky states of anxiety. With long-term intake of dosages above 1.5 g caffeine per day, non-specific symptoms occur, such as restlessness, irritability, sleeplessness, palpitation, vertigo, diarrhea, loss of appetite and headache.
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