According to Record of Gaya cited in Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, the legendary queen Heo Hwang-ok, a princess of the Ayodhya married to King Suro of Gaya, brought the tea plant from India and planted it in Baegwolsan, a mountain in current Changwon.:3 However, it is a widely held view that systematic planting of tea bushes began with the introduction of Chinese tea culture by the Buddhist monks around the 4th century. Amongst some of the earliest Buddhist temples in Korea, Bulgapsa (founded in 384, in Yeonggwang), Bulhoesa (founded in 384, in Naju) and Hwaeomsa (founded in Gurye, in 544) claim to be the birthplace of Korean tea culture. Green tea was commonly offered to Buddha, as well as to the spirits of deceased ancestors. Tea culture continued to prosper during the Goryeo Dynasty, with the tea offering being a part of the biggest national ceremonies and tea towns were formed around temples. Seon-Buddhist manners of ceremony prevailed. During the Joseon Dynasty, however, Korean tea culture underwent secularization, along with the Korean culture itself. Korean ancestral rite jesa, also referred to as charye (차례; 茶禮, "tea rite"), has its origin in darye (다례; 茶禮, "tea rite"), the practice of offering tea as simple ancestral rites by the royal family and the aristocracy in Joseon.
The most popular, widely consumed types of green teas hail from the places where green tea originated: China and Japan. Green teas from China and Japan have different flavor profiles based on where and how they are grown, but most distinctively how they are processed—pan fired in China and steamed in Japan. Other countries producing green tea typically take cues from China or Japan and adopt one of these country’s tea production styles.
It depends not only on the processing method the tea producers use, but also on the cultivation practices the tea growers use. What time of year is the tea plucked? How is the plant pruned? What parts of the plant are plucked? Are the plants treated with chemicals or are they organically grown? What kind of heat is applied to the tea leaves to stop oxidation? How are the tea leaves shaped, rolled and dried? Are the leaves left whole or cut in smaller pieces?
In one study, daily consumption of green tea was correlated with a lower risk of death from any cause; an increase of one cup of green tea per day was linked with a 4% lower risk of death from any cause. A separate analysis found that an increase of three cups of tea or green tea per day was associated with a small lower risk of total mortality in Asians and women.
There are mixed opinions about how much green tea one should consume. The reality is one cup of green tea isn’t enough to affect your health. Some believe 2 cups of green tea will show benefits while others say 5. Some people say up to 10 cups is ideal but if you’re concerned about spending a lot of time in the bathroom you can add a green tea supplement to your diet.
In fact, the Japanese have spent the last 1,000 years refining the process of growing green tea and have perfected the art of producing Matcha. Drinking Matcha allows you to consume the entire leaf and unlock the full nutrient potential of green tea. Matcha has the highest antioxidant rating of all major superfoods and naturally comes with a perfect dose of caffeine for a clean and focused energy boost.
"Drink tea if you enjoy it, in moderation, and not because you're taking it as a medicine," says Dr. Sesso. Stirring in a little sugar is fine, but if you add a few heaping teaspoons of sugar, you're probably canceling out tea's possible benefits, he notes. And beware of the sugar found in many bottled teas, some of which contain as much as nine teaspoons of sugar per serving—almost as much as colas and other soft drinks. Check bottled tea labels and choose only pure, unadulterated tea—or save money and brew your own at home.
Sejak (세작; 細雀; lit. "thin sparrow"), or dumul-cha (두물차; lit. "second flush tea"), is made of hand-picked leaves plucked after gogu (20–21 April) but before ipha (5–6 May). The tea is also called jakseol (작설; 雀舌; lit. "sparrow tongue") as the tea leaves are plucked when they are about the size of a sparrow's tongue. The ideal steeping temperature for sejak tea is 60–70 °C (140–158 °F).
Cardiovascular diseases, which lump heart disease, stroke, and other diseases of the heart and blood vessels caused by atherosclerosis and hypertension (high blood pressure) into one category, are the most prevalent causes of death in the world. Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases, which includes helping regulate total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. One method by which green tea might help: it significantly increases the antioxidant levels of your blood, protecting LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation—one of the causes of heart disease.
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Drinking green tea or taking green tea supplements decreases the blood concentration of total cholesterol (about 3–7 mg/dL), LDL cholesterol (about 2 mg/dL), and does not affect the concentration of HDL cholesterol or triglycerides. A 2013 Cochrane meta-analysis of longer-term randomized controlled trials (>3 months duration) concluded that green tea consumption lowers total and LDL cholesterol concentrations in the blood.
Although numerous claims have been made for the health benefits of green tea, human clinical research has not provided conclusive evidence of any effects. In 2011, a panel of scientists published a report on the claims for health effects at the request of the European Commission: in general they found that the claims made for green tea were not supported by sufficient scientific evidence. Although green tea may enhance mental alertness due to its caffeine content, there is only weak, inconclusive evidence that regular consumption of green tea affects the risk of cancer or cardiovascular diseases, and there is no evidence that it benefits weight loss.
Both nutritionists we spoke to agree that drinking tea when you wake up and before bed can help your system rev up and calm down, depending on which variety you choose. If you’re a tea fanatic, work in a few cups throughout the day: Unless you’re sensitive to caffeine, you can probably handle five to seven cups a day without any negative side effects, says Lagano.
Matcha is best enjoyed as soon as possible after its production. Since matcha is a ground tea, any exposure to oxygen will immediately start to degrade the color and flavor of tea. If stored sealed in a cool, dark place it can stay fresh for several weeks and up to a few months (unlike dried tea leaves which can last for up to a year or two). To ensure you’re getting a fresh matcha worth sipping, buy it from a reputable company that can tell you when and how the tea was processed and packaged. Ask your tea purveyor for directions on how to brew the best cup of that particular variety of matcha.
To make red tea, combine 1 to 2 teaspoons of red tea leaves per cup of hot water, recommends the South African Rooibos Council. Steep the tea for 2 minutes or more, depending on how concentrated you want the flavor. To make iced red tea, use twice the amount of dry tea per cup of hot water and pour it over ice. Mix red tea with vanilla, fruit juice or other herbs for different flavor combinations.
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Rooibos is sometimes used as substitute for milk with colicky babies, says Alvaro Viljoen, PhD, of the department of pharmacy at the University of the Witwatersrand. And the health benefits of Rooibos are bound to make it a favorite, he says: rich in antioxidants, rich in vitamin C, caffeine-free, and low in tannins, the residue in teas that can sometimes cause digestive problems.
Domestic Process: This is a very simple process. It involves repeated steeping of tea in hot water and the disposal of the water (you may use this tea to serve those who don’t mind having caffeinated tea). The more you repeat the process, the less caffeine there will be left in the tea, but the same is true of the taste and flavor. Basically, don’t overdo it. Two or three steepings are probably safe. After all, you do want tea and not plain, hot water, right?
Unbeknownst to many, green tea actually comes from the same plant from where normal tea is obtained. Scientifically, it is known as Camellia sinensis. In fact, it is the same tea but it is processed differently. The normal black tea is obtained by fermenting the tea leaves. This fermentation changes its color and flavor while raising the level of caffeine and tannin in it. On the other hand, in the case of green tea, the tea leaves are dried or slightly steamed but not fermented. This is what makes it look green when it’s brewed.
A great deal of evidence from randomized controlled trials suggests that consumption of flavan-3-ols and anthocyanidin antioxidants, the types found in green tea, is beneficial for metabolic and cardiovascular health. (5) When it comes to preventing many of the risk factors for heart disease, such as having high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, some evidence shows that green tea contains 10 beta-blocking compounds, seven calcium channel blockers and 16 diuretic compounds. It also has more ACE-inhibiting properties than many other plant foods that are commonly consumed, which helps increase the amount of blood your heart pumps and lowers blood pressure.
Rooibos tea is also known for its beneficial effects on those suffering from colic or diabetes. It also has the ability to cure headaches, insomnia, asthma, eczema, bone weakness, hypertension, allergies, and premature aging. This tea is absolutely free from caffeine content and is also low in tannins. Drinking rooibos tea can further ease severe stomach cramps and boost the immune system.
"It's only in the last 10 year that Western science has tried to look at antioxidant activities of tea," says Dave Ringer, PhD, scientific program director at the ACS. "It's a young science. Generally, it is felt that tea can inhibit the initiation of cancer and delay its progression in animal studies. But we don't really have large well-controlled epidemiological studies to look at this yet [in humans], because you need to correct for the effects of other dietary components."
Day 2: I hopped out of bed, made my 2nd cup of tea, then went about my day. As the hours wore on, though, I grew discouraged. The reviews I had read and testimonials from friends had assured me that the tea was going to start working its magic very quickly, but my stomach still felt perfectly normal and average. Since I am the perfect blend of spontaneous, self-destructive, and optimistic, I went ahead and made myself my 3rd cup in 24 hours (Remember that last night I drank it at night instead of the recommended first-thing-in-the-morning.).
Word began to spread and rooibos tea was suddenly being put up against a number of health issues to see what benefits it showers. 50 years later, the world knows all about this powerful little herb! The exact mechanism by which it soothes colic and stomach pain is unknown, but the anti-inflammatory properties of the herb are most likely responsible.
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Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's Health's contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the New York Yankees MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Cynthia is a three time New York Times best selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Shade grown: All matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves—a labor-intensive process where tea bushes are protected from the sun and light is filtered to the bushes in a very controlled manor. Shading boosts the chlorophyll production in the plant, giving the leaves a rich green color. The lack of sun reduces the plant’s photosynthesis of the leaves, which in turn alters the naturally occurring levels of caffeine, flavanols, sugars, antioxidants, and theanine. By controlling the sun exposure, tea producers can significantly alter the chemical make-up and flavor of the final tea leaves.