Japanese Green Tea
Japan is a country of tea drinkers –green tea drinkers in particular. The health benefits of green tea have been recognized in Asia for many centuries. Chinese and Japanese green tea, for example, is listed in many traditional texts as helpful for almost every kind of health condition. Green tea has more recently gained publicity in the West as a way to prevent many diseases and even as an effective diet food.
Green Tea In Japan
Green tea was supposedly brought over from China in the 12th Century by a Japanese Buddhist priest who introduced Zen to the nation. The notion that green tea and Zen were introduced simultaneously almost seems too perfect to be true, but who knows? In any case, the Japanese took immediately to green tea and have been consuming it in large quantities ever since. The Japanese have also ritualized the drinking of tea with their famous tea ceremonies.
There are many forms of green tea popular in Japan, but Bancha is the most common. This type of tea is made from the twigs rather than the leaves of the tea plant. Although this is considered the lowest grade of Japanese tea, it still contains the health benefits of any other kind of green tea. It is popular among people who follow a macrobiotic diet. It also has the lowest caffeine content of any green tea.
Gyokuro is the highest grade of Japanese green tea. It is grown in the shade before harvesting which gives it a special flavor that many tea drinkers love. It also has the highest caffeine content of the green teas.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
It is speculated that the Japanese have lower rates of certain cancers and heart disease than people in Western countries because of the amount of green tea they consume. Green tea has many healthy properties, but the most powerful is an antioxidant called ECGC, which can help to lower cholesterol, inhibit the growth of many cancer cells and even helps the body burn fat more efficiently.
Still another benefit to drinking green tea is that it’s good for your teeth and gums. The antioxidants known as catechins (which includes ECGC) kills bacteria that cause gum disease, as well as bad breath.
It seems that you can’t go wrong in following the example of the Japanese and drinking lots of green tea. Green tea is also available as an extract, which is made from the green tea leaves.