Warm Up With Green Tea
Although a cup of hot chocolate is probably the first thing you think about on a cold winter’s day, it is more beneficial to reach for a cup of green tea instead. Not only is green tea warm and flavorful, it also offers a ton of great health benefits, and comes in many varieties so you will never get tired of it. So the next time you’re feeling chilly put your kettle on and get out the green tea!
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Because green tea goes through minimal processing to become commercial tea, it has the highest level of antioxidants of all types of tea. This high antioxidant level helps to prevent cancer and promote the removal of free radicals. According to several hundred studies completed in the last 10 years, green tea appears to lower the risk of bacterial and viral infections, as well as reduce chances of cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and osteoporosis. An 11-year study of over 40,000 participants in Northern Japan (where the average consumption of green tea is 3 cups per day) showed a 62% lower risk of dying of stroke for women, and 42% for men. Pretty impressive for a bag of leaves!
Types of Green Tea
If you have previously tried green tea and didn’t like the flavor, don’t worry because there are many different types of green tea to choose from, so you can keep trying until you find one you prefer. Here are a few popular green tea types:
- Sencha: This most-popular green tea type is light and sweet, with a slightly astringent taste.
- Dragon Well (Lung Ching): Very brisk flavor, high quality, premium tea.
- Matcha: The traditional tea for Japanese tea ceremony. Ground and whisked, with a light and sweet flavor.
- Gunpowder: Named for the shape of the tea leaves, flavor is fresh and slightly grassy.
- Jasmine: A green tea blend that includes Jasmine flowers. Refreshing, fragrant, and soothing.
- Genmaicha: Another green tea blend, consists sencha and brown rice for a nutty flavor.
- Anji: A very light green tea, good for beginners because of its subtle flavor.
If you are still unsure about green tea, try a green tea blend like mint green tea, or acai berry green tea. While you won’t the same amount of health benefits per cup, it’s still a good start.
Brewing Green Tea
There are a few things you need to know about brewing green tea in order to get the best flavor. The first point is that you do not want to steep green tea in boiling water. If you use water that is too hot, you will be left with bitter tea. The ideal temperature to steep green tea is 170 - 180 degrees. You can use a candy thermometer to get the correct temperature or just take the water off of the heat before it starts to boil. This is usually just about the right temperature. Secondly, green tea is tightly rolled, so it needs room to expand. Japanese teapots have large infusers so the water can fully circulate around the tea. Or try a tea infuser like this one from Teavana. Brew the tea for 1-3 minutes depending on how strong you want the tea to be. Never steep it longer than 3 minutes or you will have bitter tea. It may take a little bit to acquire a taste for green tea, but once you do, you'll be amazed at all of the flavors and varieties that you can brew. You'll get great health benefits and great taste in every cup!