Who hasn’t heard about the benefits of drinking green tea? I know that for years I was hearing all about why we should be drinking it but for the life of me couldn’t figure out how to make it palatable. I would buy some from Whole Foods and boil the water to 212 F and just steep and steep it until it was a very nice brown. Dark, bitter brown-green tea. Yuck. Then I heard not to sweeten it. You mean to tell me that you are going to ask a southern girl not to sweeten her tea (with Stevia or raw honey)?
Then I did a little more research. I read up on green tea and I asked around. I happened upon Teavana where the near cultish salespeople walk around pawning everything tea as they waft the canister lids with such force that you cannot escape aroma of often very expensive, sometimes precious, always delicious teas. These highly trained tea-ristas, including my very talented friend Renee, are so good at what they do that I manage to usually drop well more than $100 per visit. (For now, I am banned from the store by my husband but I do have a great stock of many green tea varieties).
Why You Should Try It
Dr. Mark Hyman in his book The Ultramind Solution says that “green tea contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxifying properties.” Green tea provides a nice energy boost without the crash of more caffeinated stimulants like coffee or black tea. It shows promise in fighting diabetes, cholesterol and overall fat.
Many of the human studies on the benefits of consuming green tea are done in Eastern cultures where excessive sugar and animal protein consumption are low but where a healthful plant based diet is common. Though the findings show promise, it’s hard to apply them to the typical American diet. If you eat poison (non-food food, excessive sugar, trans fats and bad-for-you hormone/antibiotic plagued animal protein) you will likely not see much improvement. So if you consume Twinkies, Big Macs, and sodas all the time, adding in green tea is probably a waste. But if your diet is largely plant based with moderate amounts of quality proteins (such as wild salmon, grass fed eggs, and cultured grass fed dairy) you could see a great health benefit.
Trade the Bad for the Good
Don’t be discouraged if your diet is less than perfect. One way I have used green tea personally and how some of my clients have added green tea is to use it like a ritual and replacement for the bad foods or drinks that would typically be chosen. This calm energy ritual is like a reward if you know how to brew it! A pick-me-up cookie or diet coke is now replaced with a life giving, energizing and detoxifying cup of green tea (or in my case, a glass water bottle full of Matcha). It’s a pretty amazing exchange and it totally helped my clients and me out of some of our ruts!
What Kind You Should Choose
There are many different varieties of green tea. Hailing mostly from China but also from Japan, Japanese green tea is often considered to be the best. Dr. Andrew Weil of drweil.com says “much of the organic green tea I see in the United States is more yellow or brown than green and often tastes like hay. The Japanese green tea really is green and has a rich, aromatic taste with a slight bitterness.”
Sencha, Matcha, Gunpowder, Gyokuro, Hou Koi (Monkey Tea) are but a few varieties. You have to find one that suits your taste, is organic, and is the best quality you can afford.
Okay so Now You’re on Board but You just Cannot Brew It
1/ I burned the tea by using rapidly boiling water
2/ I steeped it way too long (white, oolong and black teas, too)
3/ I didn’t know where to start beyond grocery store versions
Here is what I now know:
1/ A thermometer is important so that your water will be the right temp for the tea you are brewing.
2/ You need a stopwatch (or the Teavana app) to know exactly when to strain the tea.
3/ Loose tea is generally considered best (though I love my convenient tea bags at my office).
4/ You can get pretty fancy with your contraptions (I will be showing my Breville Tea Maker and all it’s ingenuity soon) but you can also stay totally basic and budget friendly to get the benefits of all types of teas.
5/ My friend from Teavana always makes better tea than I do. But my tea is not bad. She has taught me well!
6/ Teavana is a great place to start if you have one nearby. Be sure not to order a pound of tea because you will have sticker shock. Start with a few ounces. You don’t have to buy their canisters. They are expensive. You can get canisters at Target. They need to be completely opaque and air tight. Steel is best.
Here is how I brew my typical green tea:
1/ I bring my water up to a temp of around 170. (This can vary based on the tea so follow the directions). Using a meat thermometer held by a fork in the center of the water is one way to measure the temp.
2/ I steep it for one to two minutes (and you can usually infuse quality teas more than once)
3/ I do add a few drops of Nu Naturals Stevia to make it palatable for my southernness.
4/ I add one ice cube to the tea to take the hot edge off. This works for me. Feel free to drink it hot or iced.
Now preparing Matcha is a different process and will be in a different post as I will video the process.
I want us all to begin becoming aware of the things we eat and drink. The next time you reach for diet soda or sweetened fattening coffee drinks or even a donut, consider green tea. You’ll feel better and you won’t be consuming poison! Let me know if and when you make the switch and how your green tea is tasting.