Green Tea Benefits: Too Much of a Good Thing?

It's no secret that green tea is the drink of health, a symbol of peace and calmness. Going back over five thousand years ago, the earliest record of tea, people have been harvesting and steeping the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. No one knows entirely why or how tea was discovered, unfortunately.

Some versions of history tell a story of how a man was walking along one day and bent down to eat a leaf from a plant and he thought how delicious it might be if he could infuse it in water. Other versions of the story tell of how the flowers and leaves of the plant fell in cooking water by accident, and it was tasted and loved.

Whatever the truth is, humans have been documenting and studying the tea, or Camellia plant since we have been practicing scientific studies to understand the world around us.

Green tea is a culturally rich and inviting plant, and while it's taste may not persuade you at first, with the right preparation and acquired taste, you'll love it. With regular use, you'll begin to see its health benefits in no time at all

Preparing Green Tea The Right Way

The way your prepare your tea isn't as simple as steeping a bag of tea in a cup. There are many different types of green tea, and depending on the country of origin, your tea may be pan-fired, steamed, oven-dried or even sun-dried. Chinese teas are said to have a more earthy taste, while Japanese green tea is a lighter flavor often referred to as sencha.

To properly prepare your green tea, you will need 2 grams of tea per 100 ml of water. This translates to one teaspoon of green tea per five-ounce cup. High-quality teas often use more of the leaf but are steeped multiple times for a shorter duration.

The average green tea available on the market requires your water to be 178 to 189 degrees Fahrenheit. Steep your tea in the cup for two to three minutes. Steeping too long or too hot can cause your tea leaves to release a larger amount of tannins and create a bitter, or astringent taste. If you are still getting a bitter taste in your drink, try warming your mug and strainer before steeping your tea so the leaves get an even temperature.

Health Benefits

Many people are used to hearing green tea in the list of things you should include in a diet to become healthier, but not many people know exactly what the benefits of this tea is. The main components in green tea responsible for this are called catechins.

  • Tumors and Cancer

Green tea has been shown in multiple studies to inhibit the growth of tumors and cancers by inhibiting the degradation of affected cells.

  • Metabolism

Green tea boosts your metabolism by helping stimulate your stomach and burning calories. Studies have shown that drinking three to four cups per day helps you burn an extra 70 calories per day.

  • Crohn's Disease

Both catechins (found in green tea) and curcumin (found in the Turmeric plant) have been found beneficial in relieving and preventing symptoms of Crohn's disease by utilizing the anti-inflammatory benefits of these two plants.

  • Liver Disease

The catechins within green tea have been found to potentially inhibit the effect of liver fibrosis found in chronic liver diseases.

  • Gut Fungus 

Studies have been done on the antifungal properties of green tea's catechins to overcome to gut fungus Candida albicans, which often grows due to fermentation of sugars within the gut. Combined with antimycotics it has shown great promise, and green tea may also help avoid side effects from these antimycotics.

  • General Mortality

It sounds a little odd, but there have been actual studies showing that regular use of green tea actually reduces your risk of death from any cause. Participants who drank five or more cups per day received the most benefit from the drink. The tea also reduced death from the three leading causes of mortality in Japan, which is heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and respiratory disease.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much?

It really does look like there isn't too much of a good thing when it comes to green tea itself. Unfortunately, there is a flip side: there seems to be a danger in ingesting too much green tea extract. Green tea extracts and other herbal supplements are not regulated under the same strict laws that many prescription and over-the-counter drugs have to follow, especially when it comes to proprietary blends. Extracts are concentrated versions of the plant, and while many may only be minimally concentrated, overuse of extracts can lead to hepatotoxicity or liver failure.

Many studies have shown that 5 cups of green tea a day derive the most benefit, however, is there such a thing as too much green tea? Well, luckily green tea is beneficial to your liver and has even shown a protective effect against toxicity in the organ. Japanese publications have reported that consuming up to 10 cups per day shows benefits without any adverse effects. In fact, the only cases where people have experienced adverse effects by drinking green tea has been an over-consumption of caffeine (combined with other caffeinated products such as sodas and coffees) in sensitive individuals. Otherwise, stomach irritation may be experienced while drinking green tea on an empty stomach.

In conclusion, as long as you stick with the tea, you don't have to worry about overuse. Don't drink it on an empty stomach if you are sensitive to caffeine. Once you've acquired the taste and mastered the preparation, you'll love green tea for life.