Green tea is becoming the darling of some medical researchers, and I’ve been trying to drink a couple of cups a day.
I had a brilliant idea recently while preparing to attend a dinner party. I brewed up some green tea with fresh mint, poured into an old wine bottle which had a black and white label proclaiming it the “House Wine” and took it to the party.
Most of the dinner guests brought bottles of expensive wine. Half way through the night I noticed someone had drained my ‘”House Wine.” That gave me a big chuckle. Bet he or she was puzzled why they couldn’t get a buzz on.
Tea’s health benefits are largely due to its high content of flavonoids — plant-derived compounds that are antioxidants. Green tea is the best food source of a group called catechins.
In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.
Additional benefits for regular consumers of green and black teas include a reduced risk for heart disease. The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of tea-drinking:
Drinking a cup of tea a few times a day helps the body absorb antioxidants and other healthful plant compounds. In green-tea drinking cultures, the usual amount is three cups per day. Allow tea to steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins.
The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink it freshly brewed. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds.