Posts Tagged ‘Green Tea’

Green Tea Side Effects

Monday, April 11th, 2011

I recently read a fairly comprehensive article online regarding green tea side effects. It was well researched and fairly unbiased; however I did have some questions regarding the article. From my perspective, having lived for close to 30 years in countries where green tea and oolong tea were consumed in large quantities by a huge cross section of the population, I did have to question how factual the presentation was. While the person writing the article clearly stated that side effects were rarely seen and the benefits far outweigh the side effects a few may experience, the detail given to the side effects could cause some to reconsider adding this tea to their diet–which is, in my opinion, a shame as it really is a fantastic beverage that has actually physically bettered many people’s health and well being.

Green Tea Caffeine Levels

The first cited side effect was relating to the amount of caffeine in green tea. As is well documented, caffeine levels in green tea are low; much lower than in coffee or regular black tea, and much lower than what is found in many popular carbonated drinks. It is important to realize that while green tea does have some caffeine that should not be cited as a reason for people not to drink it. True, some people are very sensitive to caffeine and as such common sense should tell them not to drink anything that has caffeine in it, including cokes or cappuccinos.

Regarding green tea caffeine levels, there are some workarounds that would help you to continue enjoying the tea without experiencing any of the side-effects of the minimal amount of caffeine if you are sensitive to it. First of all, you will find that there is a great selection of decaffeinated green tea available. This will enable you to still enjoy the health benefits without having to suffer with any of the caffeine effects. Generally though, these teas are less beneficial to you health wise than regular green tea. But if the only way you can enjoy green tea is by drinking decaf green tea, then go ahead and do so.  Some great decaf green teas to try include Good Earth Organic Green Tea Decaffeinated(Mango, Peach, & Pineapple Flavor), 18 Count Tea Bags, 1.14-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6), or for those who like K-cups you can try Celestial Seasonings Decaffeinated Green Tea, K-cups For Keurig Brewers, 24-count, Boxes (Pack of 2) .

Photo By: A Girl With Tea

Another tip, which I have found very helpful, is that it is always the first cup that has the most caffeine content. Providing you are drinking good quality, loose leaf tea (which you should be if you are drinking green or wulong tea) you can simply pour a cup of just boiled water into your first pot of tea and allow it to sit for five to seven minutes.  Dump the first cup of tea and then pour hot water over the same leaves. This pot of tea will have significantly less caffeine in it. You may think that the first pot of tea is naturally the best, so why dump it out? Many people claim that is true, however routinely tea masters in Japan and China will always dump the first pot of tea out in any case before making a second pot which is served to guests? Why? There are several reasons, but one is that it cleans the leaves and removes any dust or debris that may have collected on the leaves. If it is good enough for tea masters and tea enthusiasts to simply wait and drink the second brewed pot of tea, it is good enough for me!

The second side effect of green tea discussed was that it can cause indigestion, bloating or nausea. It can cause an increase in the amount of stomach acid produced, as can many other substances. Again, common sense should kick in; if you have a sensitive stomach or problems with indigestion or ulcers you will need to be careful about everything you eat or drink, not just green tea. I found it difficult to grasp why this would be singled out as a side-effect of green tea, when in fact in this context it is like saying onions cause indigestion or that a side effect of eating dairy products include stomach problems. This, I felt, was a little like putting the cart before the donkey.

However, if you do suffer from indigestion or some other digestive disorder yet you still want to experience the benefits derived from drinking green tea you may want to experiment with some of the other natural Asian teas instead. For example oolong (or wulong as it is also called) has been found to be easier on the stomach for some people, especially the more aged varieties.

Another suggestion was to add milk and sugar to the tea. I find this suggestion distasteful–but again, I have spent more of my life in Asia than in Western countries where milk or cream is regularly added to black tea. Perhaps the better suggestion was to use less loose leaves when brewing the tea, making it half strength instead.

Photo By: Nathan Wong

Finally there were the regular warnings not to drink it while pregnant, not to give green tea to children and not to overdose on green tea extract tablets. I have seen many pregnant women drink a cup or two of green tea without any side-effects whatsoever. Perhaps in this instance the warning should be towards moderation rather than totally cutting it out from your diet. As far as children drinking green tea; in essence any caffeinated drink is harmful for children and as such I agree that children do not need to drink green tea. Nor do they need to drink carbonated drinks either! Yet, many still do. One good caution which is worth repeating was that many of the green tea energy drinks sold, which are often chosen by children as a healthy alternative to other carbonated drinks, are not really at all hea
lthy for them in spite of  what the label may suggest.

Health Benefits Plus Weight Loss Green Tea

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Many of us are now aware of the health benefits of green tea; the health promoting properties of this beverage have been making headline news consistently for the past 5 years. Drinking green tea really does help to ward of cancers and heart disease, but the benefit that really catches people’s attention is green tea and weight loss.

Green Tea and Weight Loss
There are now many studies that show that drinking green tea genuinely does help with weight loss because it contain antioxidants called polyphenols that dissolve fat in the blood before it gets a chance to deposit on our bodies. These polyphenol antioxidants also increase our metabolic rate so that we burn up extra calories each day. However, these weight loss effects are very slow if consuming green tea is not combined with a moderate exercise plan and/or sensible eating plan, but it still works. Combined with healthy eating and exercise, the weight loss benefits of green tea are increased. So it is important to note when discussing green tea weight loss that drinking green tea is not a miracle weight loss cure, but it really is a useful aid.

Photo By: Dan McKay

One study In Japan that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1999, found that volunteers who were put on an exercise plan that included 3 x 30 minutes of cardio sessions each week (for 12 weeks) and given 690mg of green tea antioxidants daily lost considerably more weight (especially belly fat) than those who just did the exercise! Another related study found that drinking green tea helped increase the amount of time people could exercise for before fatiguing, therefore helping them to burn more calories while working out. Researchers believe that the metabolism boosting effects are what increases this exercise endurance.

Green Tea and Appetite
Another key green tea and weight loss benefit is a result of this beverages effect upon our appetite. It contains plant chemicals that inhibit some of our carbohydrate digestive enzymes, therefore slowing the rate at which we digest carbohydrates (especially complex carbohydrates). This helps us feel fuller for longer and it also helps to keep our blood sugar levels stable. Stable blood sugar keeps the brain working properly which helps us maintain our focus, concentration and will power during our weight loss efforts. If blood sugar levels spike and dip it affects our brain chemistry and signals to the body that it needs to eat more sugar to deal with the blood sugar level dips! To me and you that translates as a hunger pang that looks for sugary snacks!

If you are looking at different weight loss teas and trying to decide if one weight loss tea is better than another, you may want to first of all consider green tea plus exercise and a healthy diet. The green tea health benefits alone are tremendous but of all the green tea benefits weight loss seems to be one of the most desired plus there are very few calories in a cup of tea made from green tea leaves.

Green Tea or Wu Long Tea? What is the Difference?

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

It is very easy to become confused when hearing about the different teas available. There is green tea, herbal tea, wu long (or oolong) tea, black tea, white tea and organic tea to name but a few. Tea comes from China, Taiwan, India and Sri Lanka, as well as other countries.  It is powdered, sold in teabags, or sold as loose leaf. How are you supposed to know what you should buy or what is best for you?

Do not worry if you are new to the world of tea, it really is not as difficult as it first seems. The first distinction to understand is between the tea types. All tea, except for herbal teas, comes from the same plant, “Camelia Sinensis”, and yes, it is a relative of the garden Camelia!  That also includes chinese tea’s as well.  Tea grows best in tropical or sub-tropical climates, as opposed to colder climates, and it also is best when grown at higher altitudes–thus many of the best tea is harvested at an elevation of up to 1,500 meters.

So, what is green tea?  How is it different from black tea? The main difference between the types of tea available depends on the processing it undergoes. Once the tea leaves are picked they quickly begin to wilt and oxidize. The only way to stop the oxidation is to dry the tea leaves by heating them. Following is a brief summary of the main different types of tea and their level of oxidation.

  • White Tea: Unoxidized. The leaves are processed soon after they are picked, though they are allowed to wilt first.
  • Green Tea: Unoxidized. This tea is processed as soon as it is harvested, and before the leaves begin to wilt.
  • Wu Long Oolong Tea: Partially oxidized. As these leaves are left longer before processing they naturally have wilted somewhat.
  • Black Tea: Fully oxidized. These leave are also wilted, and crushed.

Traditionally, black teas are the more commonly imbibed teas in Western and Indian cultures. Oftentimes these are brewed using teabags, or loose powdered tea.  Green and Oolong teas are popular in China, Taiwan and Japan. They are also becoming increasingly more popular in Western countries. This is in part due to claims made regarding certain health benefits they have such as being beneficial for those wanting to lose weight and containing antioxidants.  Really though, when it comes to debating the health properties of green tea vs black tea there are probably more similarities than differences.

My favourite tea is Wu Long, often simply called wu tea, although I also like to drink Green tea as well. There are many misconceptions regarding wu long tea side effects and wu long tea benefits. In reality, I know of no side effects from drinking wulong tea. Chinese drink it many times a day, from morning to night, with no apparent side effects other than many Chinese are quite slim and trim.  While it does have some caffeine, the amounts are small. If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine you should probably not drink it late in the afternoon. One point to mention with properly brewed wulong tea is that the leaves (or pyramid shaped teabags) are used over and again. All of the caffeine comes out with the first batch, subsequent batches from the same leaves have little to no caffeine.

You can buy wu long team in stores, in supermarkets and just about anywhere a decent selection of tea is sold. If you are wondering where to buy wu long tea, and whether the generic supermarket tea is fine, I would have to recommend you look elsewhere. Often tea specialty shops carry better varieties of tea, including organic wu long tea which is often sold in nice tea canisters or a small decorative tea chest . These are better for you health-wise and as important, they are also usually much better tasting, providing you brew them properly.

There is another benefit from Asian teas that is not as well known, but that is potentially as inviting as the health properties. In Chinese culture, tea plays an important role as being an aid to enlightenment, clearing the mind and enhancing thought patterns. While some may scoff at this, there is no doubt in my mind that an afternoon spent sampling teas definitely does have an effect on those who partake in it.

As an aside, in Taiwan and China tea and the ‘tea culture’ or ‘the way of tea’ as it is often referred to as is often closely linked to the arts. This perhaps give credence to claims that does indeed play a part in enlightening and enhancing innate abilities, and fostering creativity in all of its forms.

When I was first introduced to the ‘tea culture’ I scoffed. To me it was a ritual, cloaked in tradition and meaningless in today’s world. Tea ceremonies were a desperate attempt by some to keep alive the ancient rituals and traditions of the past–and what need is there for that, anyway? Today, with more years of exposure to this fascinating culture and more insight into the fascinating “Cha Dao” or “the way of tea“, I am starting to believe that there is more to it than initially meets the eye.

If nothing else, it drowns you in the rich, deep Chinese culture which is far older than the culture of many Western lands. There is much we can learn from this, and I believe to embrace it is wiser than to ignore the truths and simple wisdom that it has to offer.