Bet You Don't Know How to Make a Perfect Cup of Green Tea

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As thoughts turn toward spring, many of us are looking forward to detoxing, and even though it’s still fireside weather we can start right now, curled up with a nice cuppa green tea.

The “mama-san” of healthy beverages, green tea is something that we’ve all picked up on by osmosis, if nothing else. There is a general, uncontested acceptance of the stuff.

But is it really a magic bullet? How does it work, and what are its benefits, both claimed and proven? And, last but not least, how do you make the perfect cup of tea?

The desired benefits of drinking tea might go deeper than a simple detox. What if we are up against an adversary like cancer? How might green tea take on something that serious? A chemistry lesson is the best way to begin.

All tea, not just green, comes from the leaf of the camellia sinensis plant. It is through the natural oxidation process, after harvesting, that the different types of tea emerge. While black tea is produced from leaves that are wilted, bruised, rolled, and fully oxidized, its more virginal sibling is made from unwilted leaves that are not oxidized.

All tea contains polyphenol antioxidants, however green tea has the largest concentration of the polyphenol catechin known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate. This particular antioxidant has been tested by the The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the federal government's lead agency for scientific research on complementary and integrative health approaches. EGCG shows to be the most effective antioxidant for eliminating free radicals (organic molecules responsible for aging, tissue damage, and possibly some diseases such as cancer). Sounds pretty convincing despite the inevitable disclaimer that comes with all these studies.

But clinical research focused on green tea and disease has been going on for a long time by some very impressive medical institutions worldwide. The National Cancer Institute weighs in heavily with information, in one instance reporting: