March 10, 2016
By: Monique Richard
Every day around 12pm, the melancholy drifts over me as I realize the time has come to stop drinking my green tea for the day, as the caffeine (however slight) seems to keep me up at night if I imbibe post noon-time. But for the hours before, I languish in the steeped grassy goodness of this miraculous beverage which warms, soothes and strengthens. In addition to having around 60 mgs of caffeine a cup, green tea contains the helpful amino acid called “L-Theanine” also found in Chamomile tea, which has been shown to help synthesize calming neurotransmitters in the brain and reduce stress. So you get a mini burst of focused energy as well as a grounding, feel-good shot of calm. You may also be familiar with the vast amount of research boasting green tea’s highly protective compounds called “catechins” which can reduce the risk of cancer cell growth, aid in detoxification, boost immune function and reduce inflammation. What a perfect package! Other studies have shown that green tea can enhance metabolism, boost brain function, and even aid in preventing dental caries. Wowsa, all that with a few little leaves steeped in 175 degree water for a minute or two!
My favorite green tea happens to be “Sencha” which I experience as crisp, clean, not too bitter and with a hint of fresh cut grass. I know it may not sound entirely appealing to drink grass, unless you are a cow, (and if you are, welcome! How did you get access to a computer?) but I assure you, it has a rather cleansing quality to it that feels somewhat purifying to the body.
My tips if you are a newcomer
Watch drinking green tea on an empty stomach. It can sometimes make the tea novice feel a little woozy. Try as a mid morning concoction. Additionally, do not, I repeat, do not, over steep, as the tea will be bitter and you may curse my name and question my credibility. If you can buy tea in loose leaf form from a good quality vendor/tea house, that’s usually the best. Miro Tea or Tea House Kuan Yin in Seattle are two of my favorites. Other brands that I think are pretty decent: A Mighty Leaf, Republic of Tea, and some Numi Teas. Stay clear of Lipton, Stash or Bigelow brand Green Teas which essentially taste like the tea bags they come in. Start with 1 minute steep and make sure the water is not boiling, which can damage the tea leaves and reduce their healthy potential. If the grassy thing doesn’t do it for you, try a flavored green tea. Some teas come with a peachy or other fruity flavor which can add a touch of subtle sweetness. Be sure to have a little sniff before hand, otherwise you might end up feeling like you are drinking you grandmother’s sachet, and nobody enjoys that.
Try a cup of green tea today and join those of us who hail it as an elixir of health! Do you have a favorite green tea concoction or brand? Share it with us! The more ways I can learn about how to enjoy green tea, the better.
Mary Purdy, MS, RD is DIFM's chair elect for 2016-2017. She is an Adjunct Instructor at Bastyr University and a nutrition coach at Arivale.