Different varieties of green tea. The difference between green and black tea results from the manufacturing process. Black tea undergoes fermentation which transforms its colour and flavour, whereas green tea remains unprocessed and retains its colour. Green tea is grown in higher altitudes, more specifically the mountainous regions of East Asia. Some green tea is still picked by hand, and it is thought that handpicked teas are less bitter and yield a sweeter, more robust taste. Other factors such as the climate and soil can also affect the flavour.
Sencha is the most popular of Japan’s green teas. There are numerous grades which can affect the price and quality. Sencha leaves are first steamed and then shaped. Sencha tea produces a clear yellow/green tea with a sweet, grassy but slightly astringent flavour. Green tea does have more health benefits than black tea which can be attributed to its lack of processing. Green tea is higher in protective polyphenols. The major polyphenols in green tea are flavonoids, the most active of which are catechins and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which function as powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to protect the body against disease and are an important part of a healthy diet. Antioxidants can be found in a range of fruits, vegetables and other unprocessed foods. As part of a balanced diet, green tea can be a good source of antioxidants.
The study of green tea and cancer prevention is still in early stages, but the results are promising. Researchers suspect that polyphenols in green tea help kill cancer cells and stop their progression, an important role to prevent various cancers. Because green tea isn’t processed very much, it’s loaded with catechins—a type of antioxidant that fights free radicals and repairs damaged cells. Catechins also seem to play a role in weight management: One study found that people who drank green tea lowered their body fat percentage and body mass index in just 12 weeks.
Drinking 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily can help clear up a urinary tract infection. The tea contains antioxidants that one study found can reduce bladder inflammation. Other studies have shown that green tea drinkers have a 40 percent lower incidence of UTIs than those who did not drink green tea.