The Chinese have an old saying: “It is better to drink green tea than to take medicine.” Modern science has proven to truth of this motto. Not only is tea a delicious drink available in almost endless varieties, it has numerous health benefits for its frequent drinkers.
The most beneficial tea for modern bodies is green tea. Green tea is created when tea leaves are only minimally processed and not allowed to oxidize and turn black. This preserves most of the nutrients in the leaves. Green tea is rich in an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3 gallate that is helpful in treating a variety of diseases and conditions. Drinking it is believed to help people with diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Antioxidants also are thought to ease heart problems, lower high cholesterol levels, treat infection and prevent tooth decay. Green tea also is credited with increasing metabolism and assisting with weight loss. A 2007 study by the United States Department of Agriculture found that green tea has high levels of flavonoids, phytochemicals with antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.
When selecting which green tea to drink, many people have a choice between conventionally grown leaves and certified organic products. Organic green teas have several advantages that may make them worth the extra cost usually charged for them.
Organic tea is grown and prepared using only natural ingredients and resources. Growers do not use chemical fertilizers or insecticides. By drinking organic green tea, people can reap the tea’s benefits without ingesting dangerous chemical residue.
The soil organic tea is grown in is enriched with natural compost that is topped with a layer of mulch to retain moisture. Sustainable farming practices encourage growers to plant trees alongside the tea plants to prevent erosion. Growing the tea under shade stimulates the plants to produce extra antioxidants, adding to its disease-fighting abilities. Organic green tea also has a higher fluoride content for healthy teeth.
Because the plant and leaves tend to be of a higher quality, organic green tea has a smoother, fuller flavor with less astringency than traditionally grown teas. Its taste is brighter with more subtle notes, which makes it more enjoyable to drink.
Often, organic tea also is designated Fair Trade, which means purchasing it supports small farms and ensures that workers are treated fairly. Organic growing methods do not expose workers or the surrounding environment to harmful chemicals. It is important to know that not all organic labels are created equal.
The highest standards for organic foods are used in Japan, Germany, and the state of California. The agencies that certify the most organic products are the Japan Organic and Natural Foods Association and the United States Department of Agriculture. They examine the practices of tea plantations and certify those that meet their requirements.