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Green tea: why it's better than coffee

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Many Americans are passionate fans of coffee. A study conducted by the National Coffee Association in 2018 found that 64 percent of Americans drink at least one or more cups of coffee daily, the highest percentage since 2012.

Suppose I told you there is a better option than your daily cup of Joe? Green tea is astonishingly beneficial for your health. Made from the dried leaves of the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis), the short leafy bush is responsible for the production of black, green, white, oolong and pur’eh teas.

The leaves of the plant are picked, hand sorted and then dried and processed in differing ways to create various kinds of tea. Green tea is processed by heat-assisted drying in either the sun or in a stove of some kind without the withering and oxidation process that results in darker teas. This is why it retains its natural green coloring.

The earliest known mention of green tea is recorded in “The Classic of Tea” by the famous poet Lu Yu in the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 AD). While China is the birthplace of green tea, the production has spread widely throughout Asia, most notably to Japan and Korea.

History aside, why is green tea better than coffee? First, green tea contains many different biochemical compounds that have a wide range of positive effects on the body. One of the major reasons people consume coffee is for caffeine. Black coffee contains approximately 90 milligrams per eight-ounce serving, and regular steeped green tea clocks in at around 50 milligrams per eightounce serving, significantly less until you factor in L Theanine, which is an amino acid that aids in the transmission and binding of neurotransmitters in the brain.

L Theanine is widely used as a supplement for its nondrowsy, calming effects; however, when taken with caffeine the two compounds have a very special interaction.

The L Theanine aids the caffeine in binding to receptors in the brain, amplifying the effectiveness and duration of caffeine. The L Theanine also drastically slows down the crash and nervous jitters that are often associated with caffeine consumption. Thus, the energizing effects of green tea are much more tolerable without the many pitfalls of coffee.

Secondly, another unique characteristic of green tea is the presence of unusually high levels of the polyphenol Epigallocatechin Gallate. EGCG is a potent antioxidant, roughly 100 times more effective at eliminating free radicals than Vitamin C. Free radicals are highly unstable molecular structures that have many adverse effects on the body and the brain. They are thought to be one of the contributing factors in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and the breakdown of DNA and RNA.

While the other effects of EGCG are still being researched, studies on both humans and animals show its effectiveness at reducing inflammation, aiding in weight loss, lowering blood pressure and clearing plaque in blood vessels. Green tea brings a wave of positive side effects and health benefits, making it an excellent replacement for coffee; however, if you still find regular green tea too weak, give matcha a try.

Matcha is incredibly fine ground green tea leaves. This powder can be rehydrated in hot water to make matcha tea or added to other beverages and foods. A cup of matcha is roughly three times as potent as a regular cup of steeped green tea, bringing it on par with or even stronger than coffee in terms of caffeine. As you might expect, the other benefits are amplified as well, although absorption rates in the body fall off as consumption quantity rises. Regardless, there is more than ample evidence that switching from coffee to green tea is beneficial to your health.

If you are interested in learning more about tea, I have a YouTube channel and blog all about the subject with original blends and step-by-step recipes designed to be followed along with at home. You can find it by typing bit.ly/beyondthebag into the search bar. A great place to start is the “Make Your Own Tea Blend” playlist, designed to provide an easy on-ramp to exploring tea by giving simple short explanations and an easy to follow guide. So, next time you are going for a cup of coffee, give green tea a try. You just might like it.

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