Green tea is often labeled as the healthiest tea on the planet.
While it’s always good to be skeptical whenever any claims are made about natural health foods and supplements, this tea has plenty of science and lab-based studies backing the many benefits it can offer.
The difference is that the leaves aren’t oxidized or fermented like with the other varieties, hence it’s “green” name. The leaves are left unfettered, naturally dried, which gives it that mildly bitter taste when brewed.
The guide below will tell you more about the benefits, how to identify the best brands, and recommendations you can use to get the best price and quality when buying loose, bagged and concentrated green tea products.
Best Green Teas
|Loose and Bagged Teas
|Matcha Organic Green Tea Powder
|Yogi Blueberry Slim Life Green Tea
|The Tao of Tea Handrolled Jasmine Pearls Green Tea
|Yamamotoyama Genmai-cha Green Tea
|Dieter’s Green Triple Leaf Tea
|Twinings Green Tea and Mint
|Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegranate
|Green Tea Extracts
|Life Extension Mega Green Tea Extract
|NOW EGCg Green Tea Extract
|Herb Pharm Green Tea Extract Supplement
|Gaia Herbs Green Tea Liquid Phyto-Capsules
Common Benefits of Consuming Green Tea:
1. Epigallocatechin Gallate EGCG
EGCG is one of the most potent catechin antioxidants found in nature.
The EGCG content in green tea is only superceded by white tea, which is thought to have anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times more of this highly beneficial antioxidant.
EGCG is the main health-boosting, disease-fighting ingredient that causes most of the benefits found below.
2. Increased Cardiovascular Health (Cholesterol Reduction)
Free radicals floating in our bloodstream cause LDL (bad) cholesterol to oxidize. LDL isn’t immediately dangerous, like many of us are led to believe.
It only becomes dangerous once oxidation damage has occurred. It becomes sticky at this point and starts to clog your arteries, a condition called “arteriosclerosis” (ie., hardening of the arteries).
EGCG, along with the other catechins and flavonoid antioxidants help to prevent this process from happening.
3. Weight Loss Aid
Paired with a calorie-conscious diet, daily green tea consumption can help people lose weight.
Several clinical trials have shown that people who consume EGCG on a daily basis have a higher metabolic (fat-burning) rate than those who do not take in the popular catechin that’s found in abundance in green and white teas (source).
Another significant study showed that fat oxidization during exercise increased by 17% in men during exercise, when they were given a green tea extract with a concentrated blend of polyphenols (890 +/- 13 mg) and EGCG (366 +/- 5 mg) (source).
4. Brain Health Booster
One of the most promising benefits offered by green tea. The potential mental health benefits are far reaching.
L-theanine, found in abundance in green tea and many fungal plant species, is an amino acid regarded for its psychoactive properties. L-theanine is used as a neurotransmitter in the brain; it increases dopamine activity to make us happier and also helps to regulate other stress-causing hormones throughout the brain and body (source).
Caffeine and L-theanine work together like two peas in a pod within the human brain. While L-theanine helps increase dopamine, caffeine shuts down the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine.
Adenosine puts a halt on dopamine and norepinephrine; both of which increase cognition and the ability to focus (source).
The catechins found in green tea have also proved to surround and protect the neurons in our brain. When neuron damage accumulates, old-age dementia and Alzheimer’s can develop.
5. Improves Dental Health
ECGC and other catechins found in green tea have powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which help to naturally kill bad breath bacteria, which when left unchecked causes our mouths to become over-acidic and allow tooth decay to begin.
6. Helps Prevent Cancer
Cancer is the excessive over-growth of cells in the body. This deadly process is caused by uncontrolled oxidation.
Green tea and its antioxidants can help prevent and treat certain cancers. Laboratory studies have shown the connection between green tea and its cancer-fighting effects, namely with breast cancer (source), prostate cancer (source) and colorectal cancer (source).
Learn more about other potential cancers green tea may help prevent or treat here.
7. Improved Skin Health and Appearance
Our skin and tissues age due to the effects of oxidative damage from free radicals.
Free radicals get in our body through food, drink and the air we breath. This oxidative damage causes inflammation all over, speeding up the aging process.
Green tea, when consumed, causes a significant boost in antioxidant blood concentrations, helping to keep our skin free of inflammation and the drying effects (wrinkles, flaking, chapping) that often follow oxidative damage.
When an extract is applied topically, green tea can help to protect the epidermis (top-most) layer of the skin from the oxidative effects of UVB rays from the sun and/or tanning bed exposure (source).
8. Increases Wakefulness
Green tea also contains caffeine, which blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brain called adenosine. Adenosine tells our body to shut down, slowing the mental processes and adrenaline activity in our bodies that keep us alert.
Most green teas range in caffeine content (30 – 60mg per serving). Read labels before you buy, if caffeine content is a concern.
9. Safe and Natural Antiviral and Antibacterial:
The bacteria and fungus-fighting benefits of the catechins in green tea also help to protect us from infections like the influenza virus (source).
10. Green Tea for Treating/Preventing Type 2 Diabetes?
This is one of the more questionable benefits of green tea that you may want to take with a grain of salt.
While many sites and sources will claim green tea can prevent and/or reverse type 2 diabetes, most scientific studies including this one show disappointing results. In fact, increase insulin sensitivity and glucose handling from drinking green tea has only shown promise in healthy, non-diabetic individuals thus far.
It’s probably smart to drink the tea to help treat the oxidative damage and inflammation that often accompanies the disease, but don’t hold out much hope that it will help reverse it, or that you can eat as much sugar as you want and never contract the disease so long as you drink green tea every day!
Can Green Tea Help Extend Your Life?
As you’ve learned, green tea lowers the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. If you’re an otherwise healthy individual and can tolerate multiple cups a day, this practise may extend your life even further.
One study performed on Japanese adults showed that men and women who drank more than 5 cups of green tea (brewed for the Japanese standard using loose tea left in the cup) every day had a statistically less significant chance of dying in the next decade (source).
Another similar study conducted on elderly individuals aged 65 – 84 year olds showed the participants who consumed the most green tea every day had a 76% lower mortality rate (source).
Fast Facts About Consuming Green Tea and Lower Death Rates in Men and Women
Overall reduction in all causes of disease and age-related mortality worldwide:
23% reduction in adult females – 12% in men.
Deaths from preventable heart attack and/or heart disease:
31% reduction in adult females – 22% lower in men.
Deaths from sudden stroke:
42% lower in adult females – 35% lower in men.
Potential Side Effects and Other Warnings About Green Tea
Green tea contains anywhere from 20 – 60 mg of caffeine (depending on brew time). While this is half that of what coffee contains, it’s still easy to overdue it and drink more than a few cups of it in a short time and become over-stimulated. The amino acid L-theanine, found in abundance in green tea increases GABA and Dopamine levels in the brain. Increased levels of both of these hormones can lead to restlessness if too many cups/supplements containing green tea or green tea extracts are consumed.
2. Increased Urination
Caffeine has long been known as a natural diuretic and nervous system stimulant. Drinking a couple of cups of green tea can definitely cause you to urinate more often than you would if you hadn’t consumed them at all.
Theobromine levels are also high in green tea. This substance is a very common (and potent) natural diuretic and can cause the inconvenient urge to go to the bathroom more often. If you’re sensitive to either, consider limiting green tea intake.
3. Stomach Upset
The Japanese understand that green tea should only be consumed during or after a meal. Green tea is such an effective digestive aid due to the catechins it contains. These catechins increase stomach acid nearly two-fold and can cause heartburn and reflux if consumed on an empty stomach. Better to take advantage of its ability to speed up digestion by drinking it with a meal anyhow.
4. Cholesterol Imbalance
The balance of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol is essential to maintaining the health of the entire heart and circulatory system. While green tea is a perfect natural supplement that will help maintain this balance, it can actually create an imbalance in people taking prescription cholesterol medications (ie., drugs containing: Atorvastatin, Rosuvastatin, Lovastatin, etc.)
View the entire list of cholesterol inhibitors and their various brand names here. Talk to your doctor before consuming large amounts of green tea or green tea supplements if you take any of these medications.
5. Contraindicated With Prescription Blood Thinners
Because green tea is a natural blood thinner, it will increase the risk of bleeding and hypotension (ie., low blood pressure) if you’re currently taking prescription blood thinners. If you’re taking prescription anticoagulants such as Warfarin or Heparin, or anti-platelet drugs like low-dose Aspirin, it’s recommended you speak to your doctor before consuming green tea or any other herbs or supplements known to thin the blood.
Important Note About Potential Dangers of Green Tea Extracts Designed for Weight Loss
Many green tea extracts are marketed specifically for weight loss. As you can imagine, in an effort to make sure users get weight loss results, certain manufacturers will add a significant amount of extra caffeine extracts to their formulations to boost the metabolic effects of their product.
This added caffeine is absorbed in our body differently and acts much faster than that found in a cup of tea or coffee. It’s also more potent, with 280 mg of caffeine extract being as powerful as 18 cups of strong-brewed coffee! Some manufacturers will add as much as 300 mg of caffeine extract, which, if it doesn’t kill you, you can bet you won’t be sleeping for a long time! These extracts also cause severe mood swings and vision impairment in some people.
Look for supplements containing only naturally-occuring caffeine from green tea leaves. If you must take caffeine extract, it’s better to buy it separately so you can control the dose and assess your tolerance to it more carefully.
How to Find the Highest Quality Green Teas:
1. Go organic for best taste and health benefits:
Non-organically grown green teas have been sprayed with potentially dangerous pesticides that can’t possibly be washed away completely. In order to receive a “USDA Certified Organic” seal, tea growers have to prove they don’t use unnatural products when growing their products and are subject to frequent, surprise audits from the USDA Organic Council.
2. Look for first harvest teas:
Tea is generally picked in two harvests, much in the same way a farmer will cut their hay crops twice (sometimes three) times per year. The first set of leaves from the plant in late spring offer the best taste and the highest antioxidant levels. It’s hard to find manufacturers that state which harvest their leaves are from. Most higher-priced teas from reputed brands will contain the first crop only.
3. Avoid sugar containing powders and extracts:
Look for added sugar on the label. Avoid sugar-containing green tea powders, as they’ll often contain sub-par tea leaves and the sugar will negate many of the antioxidant benefits offered by the tea.
4. Prefer brands that list their tea’s antioxidant content:
When a reputed brand goes out on a limb to list the antioxidant content, they’re literally putting their name on the line. Most brewed teas will offer 30 – 50mg of ECGC, along with trace amounts of other catechins and polyphenols. Quality extracts and powder supplements can offer 200mg and up per serving.
The Highest Quality Green Teas and Extracts
Best Loose and Bagged Teas
1.Matcha Organic Green Tea Powder
Matcha Organic from Kiss Me Organics is the best green tea product on the market, without question! This is a super concentrated powder than can instantly be transformed into hot or cold water without the need to wait for the tea to brew. It’s as potent as it is convenient, offering the highest verified antioxidant content of any green tea product. Matcha Organic has 137x the antioxidant content of regular green tea, since they grind the tea leaves super fine rather than dehydrating brewed liquid like many other products do. Be aware that the taste of this product is very strong.
2.Yogi Blueberry Slim Life Green Tea
Yogi Blueberry is a tasty little green tea marketed toward people who’re dieting to lose weight, or trying to maintain a healthy bodyweight. Aside from the organic GMO-free green tea in each bag, Yogi has added fresh blueberry leaf, orange peel, hibiscus flower, garcinia cambogia fruit extract, haritaki, bibhitaki, ginseng and eleuthero. All of these ingredients are essential in many Ayurvedic healing medicines and rituals used in the Hindu faith. This is one of the least-bitter green tea products you’ll find.
3.The Tao of Tea Handrolled Jasmine Pearls Green Tea
One of the great selling benefits of The Toa of Tea and their many tea blends, is that you’re getting nothing but the tea. There are no preservatives or fillers placed in the tea to increase the weight of the product. The jasmine infused green tea leaves are individually hand-rolled into precious little pearls, which unravel when you place the tea in water. The jasmine infusion heightens the tea drinking experience and all but kills the bitter natural taste of the green tea leaves. Each tin of tea holds at least 2000 individual pearls! Make sure you have a stainless tea ball or infuser, it’s not bagged.
4.Yamamotoyama Genmai-cha Green Tea with Roasted Brown Rice
Yamamotoyama is a delicious all-natural green tea. They add roasted brown rice which helps to cut the bitterness of the tea, giving it a fuller nuttier flavor. If you’ve ever had traditional-brewed green tea at your favorite sushi place or Japanese restaurant and wondered why it tasted so much different from the tea you always brew at home, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you brew your first cup of Yamamotoyama!
5.Dieter’s Green Triple Leaf Tea
Dieter’s Green offers more than just green tea leaves. It’s formulated to help fire up your metabolism for fat-burning, but also contains a variety of Chinese herbs that are heralded for promoting digestive health and regularity. This powerful, naturally-decaffeinated dieter’s formula includes: senna leaf and whorled mallow (natural laxatives), ginger (relaxes the stomach), loquat leaf (promotes gut health), and chinese licorice (to detoxify the body). This 2,000 + year old formula is held in oxygen bleached bags, rather than the chemically whitened tea bags you’ll find with less expensive teas.
6.Twinings Green Tea and Mint
This 6-pack deal from Twinings is definitely a good buy! This green tea and peppermint mixture is made to be brewed in cold water, for making iced tea, but you can hot brew it too. The peppermint cuts the bitterness of the green tea, and also adds a slight sweet sensation to the pallet if you’re trying to cut your sugar intake. They’re a mid-priced tea maker, so you should be aware that they more than likely use chemically bleached tea bags, as they don’t indicate anything to the contrary on their packaging or website.
7.Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegranate
Bigelow is another popular budget brand for the penny-pinching tea drinkers out there. This green tea/pomegranate blend tastes simply wonderful. The essence of the pomegranate without the sugar content makes this a tasty yet guilt-free way to drink a flavorful, fruity cup of tea. The formulation contains hints of other flavors such as apple, hibiscus, rose hips, and licorice roots. Be aware the packaging also states this tea contains fillers like soy and lecithin. Great tasting tea, but not 100% natural by any means!
Best Green Tea Extracts
8.Life Extension Decaffeinated Mega Green Tea Extract
This life extension green tea supplement is for people who want to maximize the benefits offered by green tea. Each capsule contains up to 98% polyphenol content. The ECGC in green tea has been shown to offer fat loss benefits – the only trouble being that you need to consume 20 or more cups of tea to get anywhere near the amount needed to create a thermogenic (fat burning) effect. This product contains 725mg of green tea per serving, with 710mg of polyphenols, and a whopping 328mg of ECGC!
9.NOW Foods EGCg, Green Tea Extract
NOW Foods always makes great health supplements. Each EGCg capsule offers 200mg of EGCG, 322mg of total catechins, and 325mg of polyphenols. Considering their honest labeling practices and low price tag per 180 capsule bottle, EGCg might just be the best value for people looking for a green tea supplement. It also has tons of reviews, meaning it’s been around for a while and passed the scrutiny of several customers so far.
10.Herb Pharm Green Tea Extract Supplement
This Herb Pharm product contains liquid green tea extract that’s delivered to your mouth or beverage of choice via a dropper. They use the first harvest leaves. People who use this product claim they feel much more of an energy boost after using it, compared to brewed tea and other concentrated products. While it has favorable reviews, they don’t unfortunately offer much information about the flavonoid and ECGC content. The price is definitely right!
11.Gaia Herbs Green Tea Liquid Phyto-Capsules
Gaia Herbs is another green tea concentrate with a guarantee that each capsule contains 300mg of polyphenols. Reviews of this new product are limited, but all positive. This product is used for everything from curing out-of-control acne, to preventing the common cold.
Since most of the science behind green tea and its benefits seems to indicate more is better, your best bet is to use a concentrated product, like that offered by Life Extension, NOW Foods, Gaia Foods, or Herb Pharma recommended above, combined with a daily regimen of drinking your favorite brewed variety for an added antioxidant boost.
Green tea sure has some huge advocates out there. The benefits are endless when it comes to your health and wellness. Just keep in mind that nothing can replace a healthy diet and lifestyle!