As Japanese green tea products fly off the shelves, in supplements, health products, toothpastes and shampoos, soft drinks and, naturally, in its pure leaf and powder forms, a multi-million dollar 21st-Century global health industry has taken Japan's favorite beverage to heart.
The medical world's interest in green tea dates back around four decades when researchers began to notice its powers in combatting a host of major diseases and health-threatening conditions. At the heart of its healing powers are catechins, powerful anti-oxidants that inhibit the growth of harmful free radicals, the strongest being epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG for short.
Of course, here in Japan they've believed that Japanese green tea
is beneficial to health and well being as a tonic, a preventative and a cure ever since it arrived from China, primarily as a medicine, in the 12th Century. In his seminal work, The Book of Tea, Okakura Kakuzo put it succinctly: "Tea began as medicine and grew into a beverage". Undoubtedly he was familiar the ancient Chinese proverb” Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary".
Love green tea? Explore our complete guide to Japanese green tea where you'll find great info on matcha, tea ceremony, tea gardens and tea houses, and more ...
21st-Century health experts concur. Kris Gunnars, a writer with Authority Nutrition, and an expert in evidence-based nutrition writes, "Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body. These include improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other impressive benefits".
Skeptics argue that most testing has only occurred in laboratories, or evidence is based on circumstantial or anecdotal evidence. Yet the sheer volume of serious research being conducted worldwide suggests that the ancient Japanese beliefs are spot on.
Green tea, and in particular its strong form, matcha, are thought to posses the following substantial health benefits:
- Skin beautifying
- Blood sugar control (anti-diabetes)
- Treating dementia and degenerative brain conditions
- Brain boosting
- Reducing risk of cardiac problems
- Reducing risk of stroke
- Energy boosting
- Performance enhancing
And if that isn't enough, it tastes pretty good too! Medical practitioners and health experts suggest that incorporating two to three cups of good quality Japanese green tea into your daily diet is a great aid to health, well-being and beauty.
If you liked this, why not check out our Green Tea Primer by Kyoto-based tea master Randy Chanell Soei, and Tyas Huybrecht's introduction to Genmaicha.