Going green (tea) - Everything you need to know - Chanui

Going green (tea) - Everything you need to know

Today, we journey east to explore the world of the tea you probably have a box of in your cupboard from that January health kick - green tea 

As one of the most consumed beverages worldwide, green tea holds a sacred place in many traditions, as we’ve explored in our recent posts on Japan, China and Morocco. We'll sift through the tea leaves to understand the caffeine content, preparation techniques, taste profiles, health benefits, and much more.

Hold onto your teacups as we steep ourselves (not literally) in green tea. 

What is green tea?

Green tea comes from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, just like black tea. The difference is that they have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process that turns the leaves from green to a dark brown or black. 

For green tea, the leaves are typically heated after harvesting (via steaming or pan-frying) to prevent oxidation and preserve the green colour, hence the name green tea. This process also helps to lock in many of the beneficial compounds that make green tea a popular choice among health-conscious consumers. 

Matcha and Moroccan mint tea use green teas as their base.

How much caffeine is in green tea?

Green tea's caffeine content may be lighter than its coffee counterpart, but it still has plenty to lift you up throughout the day with approximately 20-45 milligrams of caffeine per 250 ml cup.

If like us you're not fluent in caffeine speak, use this handy comparison per 250 ml serving… 

  • Black tea typically contains 47-90 milligrams of caffeine
  • Regular brewed coffee contains between 95-200 milligrams of caffeine

Just remember the rhyme they taught you in nursery... 

When it’s time to rank your drink’s caffeine,

First comes coffee, black, then green.

For a big old jolt, you choose the bean,

For peace and calm, pick leaf serene.

… Remember? No? Ok moving on. 

Why does green tea have less caffeine than black?

It’s primarily due to two main factors: the variety of the tea plant and the processing method used.

There are two main varieties of Camellia sinensis used in tea production: Camellia sinensis sinensis and Camellia sinensis assamica.

Camellia sinensis sinensis

This variety is native to China and are typically grown for green tea production. The plants have smaller leaves, are more resistant to cold climates and can produce a lower caffeine brew. 

Camellia sinensis assamica

This variety, native to the Assam region in India which is warmer and at a lower altitude, has larger leaves and is typically used for black teas and dark teas.

The process

The way the tea leaves are processed after being harvested can also have a significant effect on caffeine content. Green tea leaves are usually lightly steamed or pan-fired fairly soon after picking to prevent oxidation, thereby preserving their green colour and delicate flavour. This light processing can lead to a lower caffeine content. 

Black tea, on the other hand undergoes a lengthy process of withering, rolling, full oxidation, and drying that can promote more caffeine extraction when brewed.

How to brew green tea

Perfecting the art of brewing green tea is part of the joy. There are hundreds of ways to brew green tea but this is what we have found works best with our green tea. 

First, boil the kettle. 

Add one teaspoon of green tea leaves per cup. 

Steep for 1-3 minutes, being careful not to over-brew, as this can make the tea taste bitter. 

The result is a beautifully delicate and aromatic cup of tea.

What does green tea taste like?

Describing the taste of green tea is an art in itself. It's a complex palate of flavours, ranging from grassy and floral to sweet and astringent. 

Its taste comes from the various compounds present in the tea leaves, such as tannins and polyphenols. While it can be slightly bitter, a well-prepared cup of green tea should also reveal a subtle sweetness and a refreshing, clean finish. 

What are the health benefits of drinking green tea?

You can’t pass a news stand without seeing a headline about how green tea is going to save your life! Here are some of the main things there is good evidence for and are taken from our longer post on the health benefits of tea. 

Heart health

There is plenty of evidence to suggest it might be good for your heart. This study is one such example.

So why not drink three cups a day? It might just save your life. 

Cancer prevention

This is a massive over-simplification but green tea contains a lot of anti-oxidants and anti-oxidants are widely believed to help protect against many forms of cancer. 

Mental health

This meta-analysis set out to understand the relationship between tea consumption and the risk of depression. The researchers analysed data from 11 observational studies involving a total of 22,817 participants, including 4,743 cases of depression. 

The researchers found that people who drank higher volumes of tea were 31% less likely to develop depression than those who consumed less tea. 

To go even further, they looked to see if there was a dosage based linear relationship and found that yes indeed there is! For every three cups of tea drank per day, the risk of depression decreased by 37%.

Weight management

This is the one you might be more aware of since ‘green tea’ is often written within a few words of ‘intermittent fasting’.

In layman’s terms, gherlin is the hunger hormone so the more gherlin you have in your system, the hungrier you’ll feel. The catechins in green tea are known to reduce gherlin.

This study showed that 12 weeks of treatment with high-dose green tea extract resulted in significant weight loss, reduced waist circumference, and improved lipid profiles without any side effects or adverse events in women with central obesity.

We’ve written an extensive post about the health benefits of tea which is packed full of peer reviewed research. Go read it when you get a chance. 

How many calories are in green tea?

One of the delightful attributes of green tea is its negligible calorie content. A cup of plain, unsweetened green tea has virtually zero calories.

Who should not drink green tea?

While green tea offers a myriad of health benefits, certain individuals should moderate their consumption or avoid it entirely. 

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should limit their intake due to caffeine content. Similarly, those with iron deficiencies should be aware that green tea could inhibit iron absorption as you may have read in our recent blog post on Irish tea culture. 

Also, individuals with heart conditions, kidney disorders, stomach ulcers, or anxiety might want to exercise caution as the caffeine in green tea might aggravate these conditions. 

We’ve said it a thousand times - don’t be getting your medical advice from tea companies!  

Final thoughts 

And there you have it, tea fans. We've journeyed through the misty tea fields, unravelled the mysteries of caffeine content, and delved deep into the preparation and health benefits of the best green drink going. 

Get yourself a box if you haven’t already. When researching these blogs and filming videos, we drink a much wider variety of teas than we otherwise would and it is such an easy way to add some variety into your day. 

Green tea is also an excellent canvas for making other interesting drinks for example Moroccan tea. 

So go drink some green tea. It might just save your life.  

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