What’s the Healthiest TEA?
Author: Allison Tannis MSc RHN
Why the healthiest tea is one that contains EGCG, according to researchers .
You’ll want to sit down, because how to make the healthiest tea is going to surprise you.
Grab a seat friends, because the healthiest tea is not what you think it is. You’d probably guess that the healthiest tea is green tea. Yes, green tea is most worthy of a bow – it is a true nobili-TEA among superfoods! Green tea is bursting with helpful antioxidants, like EGCG (keep reading – we’ll break down the facts on this super nutrient below). But, hold on! Your typical cup of green tea may not be the healthiest tea you could be drinking. Get your kettle started because you’re going to be brewing better tea in just a few minutes. This blog is boiling over with tasty sips from researchers that’ll help you steep the healthiest tea you’ll ever drink.
TEA-rrific FACT: All teas are made from the same type of leaf – it’s how they are processed after they are picked that creates different types of tea.
Which type of tea is the healthiest?
All tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. More commonly referred to as, the ‘tea plant’, Camellia sinensis, has been cultivated for thousands of years. Tea is the most popular beverage, after water. Tea has been enjoyed by civilizations for decades. Even royal-TEA enjoy sipping tea (pinkies up though, of course). The long history of this drink’s popularity may stem from tea’s medicinal purposes. Tea leaves contain many nutrients that provide healthy benefits to the human body, including L-theanine an amino acid known to help reduce stress. (No wonder cradling a cup of tea between your hands is so comforting). Tea leaves also contain various types of nutrients called theaflavins and catechins, including the famous antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Research suggests all tea has health benefits; however, some contain higher amounts of helpful antioxidants than others. Let’s start with what researchers say is the healthiest tea to brew: green or black tea.
TEA-rrific FACT: Exposure to heat, light and air causes antioxidant levels in tea leaves to decline after they are picked.
Is green tea healthier than black tea?
Typically, tea leaves are processed (dried and cooked) to create a green or black tea. Black tea is made by allowing the tea leaves to be exposed to air, oxidizing them. On the other hand, green tea is dried without as much oxidation, so the leaves maintain their green colour. Since exposure to heat, light, and air causes antioxidant levels in tea leaves to decline after they are picked. Green tea contains higher levels of nutrients, like EGCG. As such, it’s no surprise that research has linked drinking green tea to healthy benefits to the heart, brain, weight management, anti-aging, and more. Before you crown green tea as the healthiest tea, be aware that your green tea bag is probably filled with green tea leaves that have been dried. Drying tea reduces its antioxidant levels. Fresh tea leaves contain more antioxidants. In fact, laboratory analysis has shown fresh green tea leaves can contain up to 15 times more antioxidants, like EGCG than dried leaves.
TEA-rrific FACT: EGCG levels are highest in tea within the hours after it is picked.
What is EGCG?
EGCG is scientifically known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate. This powerful antioxidant is worthy of celebri-TEA status. It may not be popular enough to attract the paparazzi, but EGCG sure has captured the attention of medical researchers. EGCG is the most abundant and health promoting catechin (plant-based, health promoting nutrient) in green tea. The reason EGCG is such a powerful antioxidant is because it excels at giving up electrons in order to stabilized free radicals that could damage the body. (That explanation was a bite geeky - you can think of EGCG as the skilled superhero who calms the bull that’s destroying the china shop).
Is EGCG good for you?
If EGCG was drawn as a superhero it would have some seriously magnificent paraphernalia, like a long royal cape, a flashy crown, and perhaps a hammer that would make the likes of Thor jealous. Not only can EGCG stabilize free radicals, it also chelates metal ions. (Chelating metal ions means, it can grab a hold of metals that could be harmful to health, and help them be eliminated from the body.) If left unchecked, metal ions lead to oxidative stress seen in chronic diseases such as, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels). There are piles of research studies on EGCG’s healthy benefits which include, reducing stress, preventing photoaging of the skin, preventing some forms of cancer, lowering cholesterol, protecting the brain, increasing bone mineral density, strengthening the immune system, and helping maintain blood sugar levels.
Health Benefits of EGCG and Drinking Green Tea
- Reduces stress
- Helps prevent photoaging of the skin
- Super antioxidant
- Linked to prevention of some forms of cancer
- Cholesterol lowering effects
- Neuroprotective (may help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s)
- Associated with increased bone mineral density
- Strengthens immune system (antioxidant abilities)
- Beneficial effects on blood sugar metabolism
Does EGCG help reduce stress?
Yes, drinking green tea reduces anxiety and improves brain function (memory and attention), according to results from over 20 studies. In one particular study, researchers measured a stress marker in the saliva of students; it plunged in those who consumed green tea for about 3 weeks. Make it a daily ritual: put your feet up, take some deep breathes, and sip on a cup of green tea to help your stress melt away.
Does EGCG burn fat?
Always a hot topic, many people want to know if green tea can help with weight loss. According to some animal studies, when EGCG is present in some cells it appears to enhance fat burning. As for its effect in humans, more research is needed. But, weight loss is not why you should drink green tea. Drink green tea because, it’s a superfood! It’s good for your brain, heart, skin, immune system, and more. It even appears to cause some cancer cells to die (which researchers call apoptosis). How cool is that?
Which green tea has the most EGCG?
Dried green tea found in tea bags, or some in loose leaf containers, contain EGCG. However, the process of drying tea leaves reduces the amount of antioxidants it contains. Brewing fresh green tea leaves can create a mug of tea that contains 5 times more ECGC than dried green tea leaves. Eat those fresh tea leaves and you can get 15 times more EGCG. Delicious in a smoothie, toss some frozen tea leaves from your freezer into your blender.
TEA-rrific FACT: Fresh picked tea leaves that are washed, and then flash frozen have 5x more EGCG per brewed cup of tea.
How to make the healthiest tea
Is your mug filled with the most TEAriffic brew? The healthiest tea isn’t the typical dried green tea you find in tea bags at the supermarket. Raise your mug to the next level with fresh green tea leaves - a more potent source of EGCG. Why haven’t we been drinking fresh tea for all of these years? It took some really curious folks looking for the healthiest tea for their family to challenge the status quo on tea production and develop a sustainably conscious, environmentally friendly way to bring organic fresh tea leaves into your freezer.
Where can I buy fresh green tea?
Once exposed to heat, light, and air the level of antioxidants in tea leaves decline. It’s the same for berries, so Millennia Tea washes and then flash freezes the tea leaves to maintain the maximum amount of nutrients. It’s so convenient to simply pull fresh tea leaves out of your freezer anytime you want. You can buy fresh green tea in the freezer section of your favourite retailer or, order online and get Millennia Tea shipped direct to your door in environmentally friendly packaging.
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Selective death of cancer cells by preferential induction of reactive oxygen species in response to epigallocatechin-3-gallate. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2012; 421 91-97.
The effect of green tea extract on fat oxidation at rest and during exercise: evidence of efficacy and proposed mechanisms. Adv Nutr 2013 Mar; 4(2): 129-140.
Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: a systematic review. Phytomedicine 2017 Oct 15;34:26-37.
Beneficial effects of green tea: a literature review. Chin Med 2010; 5: 13.
Allison Tannis MSc RHN
Author - Motivation Speaker - Nutritional Consultant - Content Creator
Author - Motivation Speaker - Nutritional Consultant - Content Creator