All true tea plants (black, green, oolong) belong to the same species called Camellia sinensis. The quality of teas and their health benefits differ based on local growing conditions (altitude, climate, and soil) and the way the leaves are processed.
Green tea is the least processed and thus provides the most antioxidant polyphenols, including a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits linked to green tea. Hundreds of studies have evaluated the benefits of green tea for heart health, cancer prevention, bone health, diabetes, gum disease, brain health, weight loss, and much more.
Certain types of green tea contain higher levels of nutrients, and they are also much more expensive than regular green tea. For example, Matcha green tea is made from the finest, youngest leaves of the first harvesting days in Japan.
Most of the research on the health benefits of green tea is based on the amount of green tea typically consumed in Asian countries—about 3 cups per day.
In 2007 the USDA compared nearly 400 kinds for their flavonoid content, which is mainly responsible for green tea’s health benefits. They found that a cup of hot, regular (not decaffeinated or flavoured) green tea provided 127 milligrams of catechins, which is
- 2 times more than a decaffeinated green tea.
- 3 times more than a flavored green tea.
- 10 times more than an instant or bottled green tea!
Allow the tea to steep for three to five minutes to extract its catechins, most notably epigallocatechin-3-gallate.