Europeans have only really been interested in green tea since a revival in the early 1990s, with consumption rising over tenfold since that time. However, it’s nothing new to the continent, as the very first tea the Dutch brought over from China, in around 1610, was green. Indeed, Göthe, Madame Pompadour and the Empress Catherine primarily served green tea to their guests.
For the finest green teas, only the first two leaves and one bud are picked. It is crucial to avoid bruising or otherwise harming the tea leaves, else the oxidation process would commence, which is fundamental, for example, for black teas. Leaves are briefly heated or steamed, then rolled and finally dried. A good quality green tea can be identified by a fresh scent that is reminiscent of hay. Its leaves are green, not brown, and are slightly glossy, dry and firm.
Even 2,500 years ago, Chang-Chung-Ching, the so-called Chinese Hippocrates, wrote: "It does not drink like rice wine, it promotes good health and maintains harmony in the soul." Doctor Chang Hua added: "A person who drinks green tea lives longer, is healthy and vital." Nicolas Direks from the Netherlands then stated in 1641: "Drinking green tea helps to rid people of pain and suffering. Tea brings energy and supports activity in the brain. "Why do Japanese live such long lives compared to residents of other nations? Maybe it is simply because they consume green tea regularly.”
The list of benefits claimed for green tea is long, but here are some highlights:
• it increases alertness and concentration due to theophylline;
• it reduces stress and aids relaxation due to the amino acid L-Theanin (according to Japanese studies);
• the polyphenols present in it reduce sugar in the blood (a study by Isigaki, K., 1991);
• antioxidants (EGCG) reduce the amount of free radicals in the system, thereby preventing cancer (according to findings in the literature); loose radicals are particles that cause cells to age and encourage various diseases;
• chlorophyll boasts antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects (according to Hughs and Gurskin).