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Pop the kettle on!

I don’t know how it is in your house, but in mine, the call to pop the kettle on is normally a plea for a cup of coffee, and as a life long coffee drinker myself, I have only recently begun to drink green tea as an alternative warm beverage.

Green tea is as fascinating in its history, as it is good for you. So, as we continue to explore the three key lifestyle elements that are the cornerstone of my work at The Yoga Company, this week we’ll delve into all the amazing health benefits of green tea.

What is green tea?

For centuries, all tea was green tea. All types of tea are made from the camellia sinensis plant, and the leaves selected to make black teas are left to fully oxidise when plucked. Green tea gets its name from the emerald green colour created when brewing the unprocessed, unfermented leaves.

History & culture

Green tea has been an important part of life in Chinese and other South Asian countries for the last 2000 years where it was used to increase concentration and focus. Indeed, there is a long history of green tea being used by Buddhist monks to aid meditation and the traditional Japanese tea ceremony still centres on the preparation, serving and drinking of green tea as a ‘tea meditation’.

Thomas Garway, a London tobacconist and coffee house owner, was the first person in England to sell tea as a beverage in 1657. He had to explain the new beverage in a pamphlet, and claimed that tea "maketh the body active and lusty", "helpeth the headache", "taketh away the difficulty of breathing", "strengtheneth the memory", and "expelleth infection".

Nearly 400 years later, green tea’s continued popularity in the West is in part due to a good understanding of its health benefits. Modern research shows it contains various naturally occurring antioxidant polyphenols that are associated with supporting health and wellbeing.

Focus and attention

Green tea contains a number of natural stimulants, including caffeine, which although not at the same levels as that found in coffee, may still help maintain alertness and focus.

Promoting calm

Green tea is a source of the amino acid L-theanine, which has a relaxing effect; it does this by increasing mood-enhancing brain chemicals including GABA, dopamine and serotonin.

Protecting the brain

The beneficial polyphenols in green tea may help slow the damaging effects of aging on the brain.

Improving gut health

One 2021 study suggest that green tea’s polyphenol compounds might have a prebiotic effect, enhancing the health of our gut microbiome.

I switched on to the benefits of green tea after listening to the excellent series ‘Just one thing’ with Dr Michael Mosley, so if you are not convinced, then I would recommend a listen, here.

I have become so convinced about the health benefits of green tea I have persuaded my wife, Bo, who is also an ardent coffee drinker, to change to drinking green tea during her working day as a counsellor. Of course the flavour had to be just right, so we have explored various brands and have found Teapigs quite a strong full flavour, and Pukka more mild and sweet.

Please let us know your favourite, we would really like some recommendations.

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