Once seen as a drink designed only for the social elite to sip on during brunch, hot tea, green tea in particular, is now the second-most popular drink worldwide, falling only behind water, according to QSRMagazine.com-Quality and Speed for Restaurant Success.
Although Asian cultures have been benefiting from the healthy side effects of drinking green tea regularly for centuries, only recently has the U.S. media given attention to tea’s health benefits, causing an explosion of its popularity in the health-crazed states.
Tea was first made in China 4,000 to 5,000 years ago by means of the Camellia senensis plant. According to stashtea.com, tea was discovered when Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was boiling water and dried leaves fell into his pot. What makes green tea different from other varieties of tea is that when prepared, green tea leaves are not oxidized; they are steamed, rolled and dried, thereby leaving in most of the antioxidants that result in its health benefits.
Recently, green tea has been hailed as the cure-all for all health aliments. Whether it is a weak immune system, high cholesterol, blood sugar or blood pressure, or reducing the risk of cancer, arthritis, tooth decay and stroke, green tea contains the seemingly solve-all antioxidant, catechin, according to green-tea-benefits.com. Green tea also contains half the amount of caffeine found in coffee and is considered a good source of necessary vitamins and minerals.
Additionally, according to a published report on green-tea-benefits.com, researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain and at the John Innes Center in England have discovered that the compound EGCG, found in green tea, may help in preventing the spread of particular types of cancer cells by inhibiting the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase. Furthermore, research published on cancer.gov shows that the catechin found in green tea works to reduce the occurrence, size and growth of tumor cells.
Besides the obvious health benefits, green tea is also believed to aid in weight loss through its high concentration of catechin polyphenols which are believed to increase the level of fat burn and overall body metabolism.
Even the most popular coffeehouse, Starbucks, has picked up on the national craze for green tea and integrated a line of green tea drinks to its once coffee-exclusive menu.
Although introduced in Taiwan and Singapore in 2001, starting July 13, 2005, Starbucks introduced the Tazo Green Tea Frappuccino blended cream to its American markets. Also introduced at the same time are the Tazo Shaken Green Iced Tea and Tazo Shaken Green Tea Lemonade which will run with the green tea Frappuccino until Sept. 30.
Other companies have picked up on the health benefits green tea has to offer and created special product lines accordingly. Arizona Iced Tea has created green tea and diet green tea drinks while Lipton Iced Tea has created a whole line of flavored green tea bags and green tea “to-go” mixes which involve pouring a tiny packet of tea mix into a regular-size water bottle, making green tea transportable. Tea specialty stores, such as Teavana, have also become more popular and are opening stores across the nation, with its nearest location at Ft. Lauderdale’s The Galleria mall. Teavana offers all varieties of tea and about 22 different types of green tea alone, ranging from the exotic Moroccan Mint to the Green Tea Mojo. Prices are reasonable and range from $4.50 to $14 for two ounces, which brew 25 to 30 cups.
However, local tea addicts can find comfort at one of Coral Gables’ own tea houses. Opened in January 2005, Montea Tea House is located at 256 Miracle Mile and offers a menu of teas, soups, sandwiches and salads, and students are often found lounging in the store using the free wireless internet access to do their work.eStarting everyday at 11:30 a.m., Montea offers the afternoon Victorian tea experience with tables of teas, finger foods and pastries. For more information, visit their website at monteahouse.com/index.html.
“After all the media attention given to tea, the biggest impact has been in the type of teas people order. Most people now know of green tea because of its health benefits, and its exposure has brought more customers to Montea,” Montea president Orlando Montiel said.
So don’t save that cup of hot tea for only when it stormy outside; with all the supposed health benefits and weight loss aid green tea has to offer, there are no excuses for not spending those extra dining dollars on a Starbucks green tea rather than buying yet another burger and fries at the food court.
Bari Lieberman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.