Green tea is thought to be a cancer-fighting powerhouse. This is because it has antioxidants, called polyphenols, that reduce the growth of new blood cells that are needed for cancer to grow and spread; polyphenols also encourage the natural death of cancer cells. Green tea is also a powerful detoxifier, activating liver enzymes that remove toxins from the body.
To get the most health benefits from a cup of green tea, you need to steep the tea leaves for about 10 minutes. This works beautifully with Japanese Green Tea. But if you’re drinking Chinese Green Tea, which is the variety sold in most grocery stores, this long steep will cause the tea to be bitter. A good solution is to steep the same tea leaves (or tea bags) 3 times over the course of a day, for about 3 minutes each time, so you still benefit from the full complement of polyphenols.
With this approach, only the first cup of tea will contain caffeine, which is information you can use if you generally prefer your tea to be caffeine-free. Since caffeine is released quickly into water, to eliminate caffeine simply steep tea leaves (or tea bags) in just enough water to cover them for about one minute. Then discard the water and cover the same tea leaves with enough water to make a full cup. This time, allow the tea leaves to steep as you normally would. This decaffeinating technique works with all varieties of tea.
Keep in mind that, with or without caffeine, you need to drink green tea within an hour or two of steeping it to benefit from its full polyphenol punch.
1/2-1 teaspoon Japanese Green Tea leaves, or 1 teabag
6-8 ounces cool water
1. Heat the water, bringing it close–but not all the way–to a full boil. Using boiling water tends to “cook” the leaves and make green tea bitter. (Yet the hotter the water, the more polyphenols are extracted from the tea leaves. So your tea water should be very hot, but not boiling.)
2. While the water is heating, put the green tea leaves into a ceramic or glass teapot. Or, if you’re using a tea bag, simply place it into a mug. Then pour the hot water over the tea leaves and steep them for 10 minutes. If you’re using a tea bag, try moving it up and down in the mug as it steeps to increase the extraction of polyphenols.
3. Strain the tea into a mug or, if you’re using a tea bag, simply remove it. Discard the tea leaves or tea bag.
4. Enjoy your tea within an hour or two.
Remember, if you are using Chinese Green Tea, follow the instructions above, but steep the tea leaves or tea bag for 3 minutes. Then repeat twice with the same tea leaves.
Copyright 2010, Ellen Arian, Ellen’s Food & Soul