Green Tea

Quick Facts

Green tea vs. Black tea

Green Tea
30 mg
Catechins
436 mg
20%
Strong
Comparison
Caffeine, 1 cup
Antioxidants
Antioxidant Activity(mg vit. C equiv.)242
Share of Tea Consumption, Worldwide
Evidence of Health Benefits
Black Tea
45 mg
Theaflavins, Thearubigins
239 mg
80%
Moderate
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Varieties and Types of Green tea

Green tea is made all over the world in a wide range of varieties. Some of them are processed differently while others include plants, herbs, or fruits in addition to green tea. Here is an overview of varieties of green tea:

Variety Origin Description
Jasmine China Green tea with Jasmine (a type of flower)
Dragonwell China Green tea that has been pan-fired in a wok
Gyokuro Japan Green tea that has been grown in relatively more shade
Gunpowder China Green tea that has been rolled into small round pellets
Sencha Japan Green tea that has not been ground (compare to matcha)
Matcha Japan Green tea that has been ground into fine powder
Pekoe N/A Green tea that includes young leaves and buds
Kukicha Japan Green tea that includes tea stems and stalks
Hojicha* Japan Green tea that has been roasted
Ocha Japan Japanese term for green tea and tea in general.
*Hojicha is roasted, so it is possible that the health benefits of green tea (which is only steamed) do not apply.

For an exhaustive listing of green tea types and varieties, see Wikipedia's Varieties of green tea.

Matcha Green tea

Matcha green tea is a type of green tea which is grown and prepared differently based on Japanese custom. During growth of the plant, matcha green tea is grown in mostly shade.5 Additionally, instead of water-steeping the leaves, a stone mill is used to finely ground the leaves into powder. Water is then added to the finely-ground matcha powder which creates a drink with more thickness.

Matcha green tea does NOT have 137x more EGCG compared to green tea.

It has been reported that the amount of the antioxidant EGCG available from drinking matcha is 137x greater compared to regular green tea (See Wikipedia's Matcha page). This claim is based on a study in which they compared 3 methods of green tea preparation:

  1. Traditional steeping method with green tea
  2. Traditional Japanese method of matcha green tea preparation using water
  3. Methanol (!) extraction of matcha green tea

In the study, it was found that method 3 (methanol extraction of matcha green tea) yielded 137x the amount of catechins compared to method 1 (the traditional steeping method).6 (Warning: methanol is highly toxic - do not use methanol to prepare matcha green tea.)

Importantly, methods 1 and 2 (traditional steeping of green tea and the traditional Japanese method of preparing matcha) resulted in about the same levels of catechins. For some catechins, the traditional green tea method yielded greater amounts of catechins.

Matcha green tea is similar to traditional green tea

Matcha, though it has a unique method of preparation, offers no significant health advantages over traditional green tea. There are no studies in the scientific literature which compare matcha green tea vs.  traditional green tea. There is no evidence behind the claim that matcha is superior to traditional green tea. It seems likely that the health benefits found for traditional green tea can be applied to consuming matcha green tea, but there is no greater benefit to drinking matcha green tea.

Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract is a concentrated form of powdered green tea usually sold in capsule form. The amount of caffeine, polyphenols, catechins, and EGCG in green tea extract varies greatly depending on the manufacturer. Below is a table which lists the contents of some well-known green tea extract supplements:

Brand Mg/pill Caffeine Polyphenols Catechins EGCG Source
NOW Foods 400 mg 16 mg 240 mg 160 mg Not given Company Site
NOW Foods (EGCG) 400 mg 4 mg 392 mg 320 mg 200 mg Company Site
Life Extension 725 mg 25 mg 710.5 mg Not given 326.25 mg Company Site
Nutrigold 500 mg >5 mg 490 mg 400 mg 250 mg Company Site
Nature's Bounty 315 mg Not given 47 mg  >47 mg >47 mg Product Label (PDF)
Source Naturals 500 mg Not given Not given Not given 175 mg Company Site

Criticism of Green Tea Extract Supplements - Study

Though we have just presented company-supplied supplement facts for branded green tea extracts, a recent study found that many green tea extracts do not actually contain what is claimed on the label.

The study, conducted in 2006 by researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, analyzed 19 commonly available green tea dietary supplements from well-known brands including GNC, Nature's Way, HerbaLife, and Trim Spa.7

Findings of the Study

Skepticism of Green tea extract Products

It is difficult to know with certainty and confidence that green tea extract supplements actually contain what the label says. The large variations in label claims and actual contents should be addressed through more rigorous quality control and testing of green tea supplements.

Green Tea Lotions/Ointments

Many green tea lotions and ointments are currently on the market, but these products rarely represent lotions distilled exclusively from green tea.

For example, Proactiv's Green Tea Moisturizer contains EGCG, a catechin in green tea, but it doesn't contain any of the other beneficial antioxidants in green tea.243

This is relevant because in the Skin Care section, studies which examined green tea lotions were performed using lotions or ointments that the study authors made themselves. One study made a green tea lotion using a very simple procedure:225

  1. They boiled 35 g (~1 oz.) of tea in 100 ml (~0.5 cups) water for a period
  2. They kept steeping the tea, but at lower heat for 30 minutes (presumably to increase antioxidant extraction efficiency)
  3. After taking out the tea bags, they continued heating the tea extract solution until it became the thickness of a lotion

Green tea ointments are a more concentrated version of topical green tea and they are used as a specific treatment for getting rid of warts.

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Caffeine in Green Tea

Caffeine Comparison - Green Tea, Black Tea, and Coffee.
Chart bars represents average caffeine content for 1 US cup (8 oz.). Sources: 910111213

The amount of caffeine can vary based on the brand. The figure below shows caffeine content of major brands of green tea. For the antioxidant content of these same brands see Antioxidants in Green Tea.

Caffeine Content in various Green Tea Brands.
Chart bars represents caffeine content extracted from 1 tea bag. Tea bags were steeped in 100 ml (~0.4 cups) boiling water for 3 minutes. (Click or hover over bars for exact quantity) Source: 14

Resources - Caffeine and Green Tea

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Antioxidants (Catechins) in Green Tea

Catechins are the main antioxidants in green tea and their amount varies greatly based on the brand. If you desire the antioxidant health benefits of green tea, it is important to consume the catechins in green tea. The figure below shows catechin content of major brands of green tea.

Catechin Content in various Green Tea Brands.
Chart bars represents catechin content extracted from 1 tea bag. Tea bags were steeped in 100 ml (~0.4 cups) boiling water for 3 minutes. (Click or hover over bars for exact quantity) Source: 15

About Catechins

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Preparing and Brewing

Brewing Green Tea for Best Flavor and Taste

Resource - How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea with Cindi Bigelow (Youtube) - In the following 5 minute video, Cindi Bigelow, CEO of Bigelow Teas, gives recommendations on how to make the perfect cup of either green tea or black tea.

Brewing Green Tea for Most Health Benefits

To get the most health benefits, you need to effectively extract catechins into your tea and then effectively absorb those catechins. In this section, we summarize studies in which researchers focused on how to extract the most catechins out of green tea and then increase the amount able to be absorbed.

Extract the most Antioxidants (Catechins) from Green tea

The following methods were shown to increase the amount of catechins extracted in studies:

Improve Bioavailability of Antioxidants (Catechins)

Bioavailability is the body's ability to fully absorb ingested green tea compounds. Improving bioavailability will make every cup of tea healthier by increasing the proportion of catechins absorbed into the body.

The following methods were shown to improve bioavailability:19

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Dosing and Safety

Dosing

The main factors in determining an effective dosage of green tea are the amounts of 1. catechins and 2. caffeine in the green tea or green tea extract.

Most of the studies on weight loss, heart health, and cancer examine people who are consuming the equivalent of 5-10 cups of green tea daily. The amount of catechins they are consuming is in the range of 500-1500 mg and the amount of caffeine they are consuming is in the range of 50-300 mg daily.

Green Tea Safety

Green tea is generally safe for most adults when used in moderate amounts.20

As shown in the Caffeine section, green tea contains caffeine, though at much lower levels compared to coffee. Still, drinking excessive amounts of green tea in a short period of time can potentially lead to side effects related to high caffeine levels such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, or frequent urination.22

Possible Medication Interactions

Green tea can possibly interact with a range of medications. See RxList.com's listing of green tea medication interactions for more information on possible interactions.

Caution against drinking high-temperature green tea

Green Tea Extract Safety

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Health Benefits

Hundreds of studies have been performed on green tea and its health benefits over the last few decades. In the following sections, all of green tea's health benefits are organized and described by category. Each benefit is well-supported by scientific studies and reviews.

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Weight Loss

Overview of Weight Loss Benefits

Green tea causes weight loss and is an anti-obesity beverage/supplement. Multiple scientific reviews published in peer-reviewed journals support this claim. In studies, subjects drink green tea or take green tea extract, and, as a result, they:

Based on studies performed in animals and in cellular model systems, researchers have found that green tea causes weight loss in 3 primary ways. It:

  • Increases natural fat-burning (lipolysis and thermogenesis) by increasing natural fat burning hormones57596061
  • Turns off fat-storing and obesity-related genes62636566676869
  • Prevents absorption of fats so that fat passes through the gut instead of being deposited onto the body.70717273

The dosages of green tea catechins used in the studies below were in the range of 600 to 1200 mg catechins (~5-10 cups of green tea). See Green Tea Dosing for more dosing information.

Causes Weight Loss

Green tea causes weight loss in a range of ~1.5-7 lbs and, in most studies, this weight loss occurs over 6 to 12 weeks. In many of the studies below, the only change the subjects made was to begin drinking high-catechin green tea beverages or consuming green tea extract supplements. Additionally, none of the studies below reported side effects from the consuming green tea. A meta-analysis published in 2009 which compiled and examined weight loss results from 11 different green tea studies concluded "EGCG–caffeine mixtures have a positive effect on weight loss and on weight maintenance."74 Finally, a systematic review of 15 green tea studies concluded that green tea with caffeine significantly reduced weight and BMI compared to caffeine alone.75

Boosts Metabolism

Green tea boosts metabolism by 50-100 calories daily (See studies below). This increase is significant and meaningful because prominent thinkers in the field of obesity prevention have suggested that "(increasing metabolism) by 100 calories per day could prevent weight gain in most of the population."88 Furthermore, a Joint Task Force of the American Society for Nutrition, Institute of Food Technologists, and International Food Information Council has also concluded that a "small-changes framework...can be successful in reducing obesity rates."89 Green tea's supported benefit of increasing metabolism by 50-100 calories/day may be vitally important in fighting the obesity epidemic.

Increases Fat Burning

Green tea increases fat burning in the studies below. In some of the studies, researchers looked at green tea's effect on the respiratory quotient, a measure of how much fat one is burning. A lower respiratory quotient indicates increased fat burning while an increased respiratory quotient means increased burning of non-fat fuel sources such as protein or carbohydrate. Other studies looked at total fat oxidation, which is simply grams of fat burned during a certain time period.

Targets Belly Fat

Green tea specifically reduces abdominal fat in the studies below. In addition to shrinking waist size, green tea drinkers burned visceral fat ("bad" abdominal fat located within the belly) and subcutaneous fat (the layer of abdominal fat beneath the skin).

How Green Tea Causes Weight Loss

In this section, we look at the evidence behind how green tea causes weight loss. Recent review papers examining how green tea causes weight loss have supported a multiple-effects model meaning green tea likely causes many changes in the body that all add up together to cause weight loss.111112 Scientific studies which examine how compounds or beverages such as green tea work (mechanism studies) generally use non-human model systems which is why the following sections generally consist of studies done in rat, mouse, or cellular model systems.

Increases natural fat-burning (thermogenesis) by increasing fat burning hormones

Turns off fat-storing enzymes and obesity-related genes

Prevents absorption of fats

Resources - Green Tea and Weight Loss

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Heart Health and Diabetes

Overview of Green Tea and Heart Health Benefits

Green tea improves heart health and is a potential preventative for both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The following longitudinal studies have all shown that green tea decreases risk of cardiovascular death:

  • 26% lower risk of CVD death - 11 year study of 40,530 people130
  • 76% lower risk of CVD death - 6 year study of 14,001 elderly people131
  • 38% lower risk of CVD death in women - 13 year study of 76,979 people132

In addition to the long-term heart health benefits, green tea also improves many heart health markers in the short-term. Green tea:

  • Lowers Cholesterol
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Lowers Triglycerides
  • Improves Good Cholesterol
  • Reduces Oxidative Stress
  • Helps Control Blood Sugar

Lowers Cholesterol

Improves Good HDL Cholesterol

Lowers Triglycerides

Lowers Blood Pressure

Reduces Oxidative Stress

Helps to Control Blood Sugar

Green Tea and other Heart Health Benefits

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Cancer

Overview of Green Tea and Anti-Cancer Benefits

Green tea has such potent and compelling anti-cancer properties that a recent article suggested that a "combination of anticancer drugs with green tea could be a new cancer therapeutic strategy in humans".155 Green tea protects DNA from carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances and the authors of one study concluded that "green tea has significant genoprotective effects."156

To give an overview on green tea's anti-cancer potential, we have constructed the summary table where you can find out whether green tea has been shown to fight or prevent a specific type of cancer.

Cancer Type Green tea kills or stops cancer cells in a dish Green tea fights cancer in animal models Green tea decreases cancer risk in observational studies Green tea is effective against cancer in clinical trials
Breast 157 158159 160161162
Bladder 163
Cervical 164
Colon 165166167 168 169
Endometrial 170171172
Esophageal 173 174175
Gastric 176177178179
Leukemia & Lymphoma 180 181 182183184
Liver 185 186187188
Lung 189
Melanoma 190
Multiple Myeloma 191 192
Oral 193 194
Ovarian 195 196197198
Pancreatic 199
Prostate 200 201202 203

More on Green Tea and Cancer

Resources - Green Tea and Cancer

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Brain Health and Function

Overview of Green Tea and Brain Health Benefits

Green tea has been shown to improve brain health and possibly protect against stroke and other neurological diseases. Additionally, there have been studies which linked green tea intake to improved focus and/or memory.

The following studies examined green tea's effect on the major neurological disorders and diseases or its possible role in improving brain function.

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Skin Care

Overview of Green Tea and Skin Care Benefits

Green tea has been shown to useful in skin care and in improving skin health. Importantly, green tea has been shown to:

  • Protect against UV damage
  • Improve skin quality and elasticity
  • Protect against skin aging

Protect Against UV Damage

Green tea's ability to systemically protect the skin against UV rays is well-supported. The following studies all show that green tea protects against the sun's harmful rays.

Improve Skin Quality and Prevent Skin Aging

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Immunity

Overview of Green Tea and Immunity Benefits

Green tea improves immunity in multiple ways:

  • Stops viruses - multiple studies have shown green tea has antiviral activity against a range of viruses including Hepatitis C and the influenza virus.
  • Kills bacteria - antibacterial effects have been demonstrated in studies, especially when it comes to killing cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Suppresses autoimmune disorders - autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system starts attacking the body's own cells. Promising studies have shown that green tea may reduce the severity of autoimmune diseases such as Type I Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis.

Anti-viral Activity

Anti-Bacterial Activity

Improves Autoimmune Dysfunction

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Anti-Aging Benefits

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Resources

Learn More

Green Tea Forums

Buy Green Tea Online

Comparison of Major Online Green Tea Sellers

Adagio Bigelow Celestial Seasonings Lipton Salada Stash Teavana
Bagged or Loose-leaf Both Bagged Bagged Bagged Bagged Both Loose-leaf
Free Shipping? Yes
(over $50)
No No No No No Yes
(over $50)
Product Reviews? Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes
Link to Green Tea Page Go Go Go Go Go Go Go

Other Sellers of Green tea

Buying Matcha Green tea

Blogs about Tea

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References

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  45. Hursel R, Viechtbauer W, Dulloo AG, et al. The effects of catechin rich teas and caffeine on energy expenditure and fat oxidation: a meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2011;12(7):e573-81.
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  52. Nagao T, Komine Y, Soga S, et al. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(1):122-9.
  53. Nagao T, Hase T, Tokimitsu I. A green tea extract high in catechins reduces body fat and cardiovascular risks in humans. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007;15(6):1473-83.
  54. Maki KC, Reeves MS, Farmer M, et al. Green tea catechin consumption enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss in overweight and obese adults. J Nutr. 2009;139(2):264-70.
  55. Wang H, Wen Y, Du Y, et al. Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(4):773-9.
  56. Chantre P, Lairon D. Recent findings of green tea extract AR25 (Exolise) and its activity for the treatment of obesity. Phytomedicine. 2002;9(1):3-8.
  57. Auvichayapat P, Prapochanung M, Tunkamnerdthai O, et al. Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais: A randomized, controlled trial. Physiol Behav. 2008;93(3):486-91.
  58. Dulloo AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(6):1040-5.
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  63. Chen N, Bezzina R, Hinch E, et al. Green tea, black tea, and epigallocatechin modify body composition, improve glucose tolerance, and differentially alter metabolic gene expression in rats fed a high-fat diet. Nutr Res. 2009;29(11):784-93.
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