Tea Series: Green Tea

The origin of green tea began in China, tracing back to 2737 B.C. The discovery occurred by accident when the Chinese Emperor Shennong mistakenly drank water that had a dead tea leaf boiled in it. He found the flavor refreshing, and thus, a new beverage was born. Green tea was primarily available to the highest tiers of Chinese society and was very expensive to purchase. It was not until the 14th century that green tea became accessible to the general public for enjoyment and medicinal purposes.

Around 800 A.D., during the Tang Dynasty, an innovative book titled "Cha Jing," also known as "The Classic of Tea," was written by a Chinese man named Lu Yu. When he was a young boy, Lu Yu was adopted by a Buddhist monk and grew up brewing and serving tea. As he grew older, his interest in tea blossomed, and his abilities to make tea improved. He decided to take time away from the outside world to research and write down his findings. "The Classic of Tea" became the first written work to explain green tea culture and art.

The highly favored green tea eventually traveled West in the 19th century by European explorers. Due to its incredible flavor, it was a huge commodity and became Great Britain's national beverage, along with black tea. Soon after, green tea made its grand appearance in America when it shipped overseas with the settlers. Green tea was called "bullet tea" because it resembled the shape of bullets when shipped. The colonists quickly obsessed over the tea, and it became so popular that Parliament imposed a Tea Tax in 1767. As we all know from our history books, the colonists were quite upset, and the Boston Tea Party took place. As a result, 45 tons of precious green tea were dumped into the harbor.

In the last few decades, the popularity of green tea has steadily increased. At most coffee and tea shops, one can find numerous green tea beverages ranging from a hot jasmine green tea to an iced matcha latte. In addition to its versatile flavors, many health discoveries are taking place due to its high number of antioxidants. The more we learn about this amazing tea, the more impressive and beneficial it becomes.

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India is the second largest producer of tea in the world after China,[1] including the famous Assam tea and Darjeeling tea. Tea is the 'State Drink' of Assam.[2][3] Following this the former Planning Commission (renamed Niti Aayog) Deputy Chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia had plans to officially recognise tea as the Indian "National Drink" in 2013.[4][5] According to the ASSOCHAM report released in December 2011, India is the world's largest consumer of tea, consuming nearly 30% of global output. India is also the second-largest exporter of tea, after China.[6]

The practice of Ayurveda has resulted in a long-standing tradition of herbal teas. Traditional Indian kitchens have long utilised the medicinal benefits[7]offered by various plants and spices such as holy basil (Tulsi), cardamom (Elaichi), pepper (Kali Mirch), liquorice (Mulethi), mint (Pudina), etc., and traditionally, teas made with these plant leaves or spices have been in use for centuries for maladies ranging from the serious to the trifling. Tea is also mixed with these traditional herbs. The taste of chai (sweet and milky) helps disguise the stronger and more bitter flavours of some of the medicinal additives, while others such as cardamom, clove and ginger add a pleasing flavour and aroma to the tea along with health benefits.

For many years, documentation of tea in India was lost in history. Records re-emerge during the first century CE, with stories of the Buddhist monks Bodhidharma and Gan Lu, and their involvement with tea. Research shows that tea is indigenous to eastern and northern India, and was cultivated and consumed there for thousands of years. Commercial production of tea in India did not begin until the arrival of the British East India Company, at which point large tracts of land were converted for mass tea production.

Today, India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, with over 70% of domestic tea being consumed within India itself. The Indian tea industry has grown to own many global tea brands, and has evolved to one of the most technologically equipped tea industries in the world. Tea production, certification, exportation, and all other facets of the tea trade in India is controlled by the Tea Board of India.

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The 3 Primary Benefits of Green Tea for Skin

When we talk about green tea as a skincare ingredient, we’re typically referring to an extract that’s derived green tea leaves (as opposed to green tea oil, also called camellia oil, which actually comes from green tea seeds). This extract is highly concentrated, which in turn means your skin reaps more of the rewards. But what does green tea do for your skin, exactly? Turns out, a lot.

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1. It’s a Powerful Antioxidant

“Green tea extract is a highly effective ingredient found in many skincare products,” says Sarah Akram, a celebrity esthetician. “In particular, clinical studies have found green tea extract to be full of powerful antioxidant called polyphenols. This means the ingredient scavenges for free radicals in your skin [to protect it from damage]. It’s one of the main reasons why green tea extract is found in so many anti-aging products.”

The most noteworthy polyphenol found in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. “Other polyphenols that are extracted from green tea are beneficial for treating acne and unclogging pores since they’re a powerful antibacterial agent for the skin,” adds Dr. Michele Green, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist.

2. It’s Super Moisturizing

In addition to warding off free radical damage and keeping skin clear, green tea is good for your skin because it’s highly moisturizing. How, precisely? Dr. Green says the ingredient improves your skin’s ability to actually retain moisture.

3. It Depuffs Like a Pro

Another benefit of green tea for your skin is that it contains caffeine. This makes it a very popular ingredient in eye products since it can help depuff and tighten bags or swelling. The caffeine and tannins also help by shrinking blood vessels around the eyes, notes Dr. Green.

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