The Wonderful Gift of Tea
All tea comes from the same Camellia Sinensis plant. The different types of tea (black, green, white & oolong) are created by altering the fermentation process of the tea leaves. In the case of green tea, the leaves have undergone minimal processing. They are steamed and then dehydrated producing a bright, fragrant brew with a distinctive pale green color. This process ensures the highest levels of polyphenols in all teas available in the market. These substances, knows as flavanols, are responsible for green tea’s anti cancer properties.
Green Tea and Cancer Prevention
The flavanols contained in green tea are commonly known as catechins. These molecules possess antifungal and antibacterial properties. Among them is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a potent anticancer substance. It works by interfering with the growth of incipient tumors. Cancerous tumors progress through a process of angiogenesis by developing new capillaries that bring nutrients to the cancerous cells and promote their development. Green tea has the ability to block this process so that cancer cells starve rather than progress into full grown cancers. The types of cancer best prevented by green tea are those of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as estrogen driven cancers such as breast and prostate cancers.
Types of Green Tea
Catechin content varies greatly depending on the origin of the tea. As a rule, Japanese green tea has higher levels of EGCG than its Chinese counterpart. There are more than 150 cultivars of tea, the most popular being Sencha and Matcha from Japan and Dragon’s Well from China. Look for high quality, fresh and air-tight stored tea in order to maximize the amount of EGCG present in your cup.
Preparing Green Tea
Pre-heat your tea pot with boiling water. Rinse and discard. Add 1 teaspoon of green tea per cup of water. Fill with water heated just below the boiling point. Let steep for up to 6 minutes. Enjoy as is or sweetened with honey.
Feel free to experiment with different types of green tea until you find the one that suits your taste. Two to three cups of green tea daily makes for a healthy addition to your diet whether consumed hot or cold.