1st February 2017

Why is my Green Tea Brown?

By Alyse Cocliff - Food and Nutrition

Ever peered into your warm cup of green tea and asked yourself why on earth is the water brown? I did! So, I set out to find out why. What I discovered was much more than I bargained for.

Before we get started, let’s discuss green tea:

Green tea comes from the same plant as black tea, but is harvested at a younger age. It is intended to be consumed “fresh”, while black tea is consumed roasted. Green tea is thus considered less processed and is meant to retain more of its nutrients and antioxidants than black tea or any other tea varieties.

According to research, Green tea contains ‘catechins’ which are a class of polyphenols or naturally occurring antioxidants. One of the four main ‘catechins’ is called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG is an antioxidant with a variety of health benefits that include, but are not limited to the prevention of the following:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Oxidation
  • Viral
  • High Cholesterol
  • Angiogenesis
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Pretty powerful right? But consider this…

Are all green teas created equal?

Like most foods available today, there exists a distinct difference between the qualities of green teas available. In fact, one study conducted by Consumer Lab, showed that antioxidant levels of green tea could vary by more than 240% across all products. 240%!

How do we know which Green Tea to drink?

The easiest way to evaluate your next pot of tea is in-fact it’s colour: if your green tea is brown, it’s likely been oxidized and of an inferior antioxidant quality.

Secondly, assess its taste; if your green tea tastes some-what bitter, that also can be an indicator of oxidation and hence, an inferior antioxidant content as mentioned above.

What about heavy metals?

Good point! As a side note, a number of Chinese, Indian and Sri Lankan teas have been found to contain potentially high levels of metals such as fluoride, lead, and aluminium; something we all want to avoid! My best advice is to switch to organic varieties produced outside of these regions to reduce your exposure risk.

Which Green Tea is best?

Whilst there are so many varieties of green tea on the market, organic Matcha tea is considered one of the healthiest options.

Organic Matcha is made from green tea leaves ground into a powder; this powder is then added right into the water, where you’re consuming the whole leaf. As a result, the ECGC level is believed to be much higher, in fact, one study found the concentration of EGCG in Matcha to be 137 times greater than that found in Chinese green tea, and at least three times higher than the largest literature value for other green teas. Something to consider!

How Much Tea Can I Drink?

If you’ve found an organic green tea you love, remember that it does contain caffeine (approximately 25mg/cup), so be mindful. Whilst this is much less than a single cup of coffee (approximately 100-150mg/cup), 1-3 cups a day is considered adequate.

I hope that answers your questions! Do you drink green tea? Have you considered any of the above? I’d love to know your thoughts.

 

 

REFERENCES
Chacko, SB, Thambi, PT, Kuttan, R & Nishigaki, I 2010, ‘Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review”, Chinese Medicine, vol. 5, no. 13, viewed 1 February, 2017,
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855614/
Schwalfenberg, G, Genius, SJ & Rodushkin, I 2013, ‘The Benefits and Risks of Consuming Brewed Tea: Beware of Toxic Element Contamination’, Journal of Toxicology, vol. 2013, p. 8, viewed 1 February, 2017,
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jt/2013/370460/
Weiss, A & Anderton, CR 2003, ‘Determination of Catechins  in matcha green tea by micellar electrokinetic chromatography’, Journal of Chromotology, vol. 1011, no. 1-2, pp. 173-180, viewed 1 February, 2017.

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