Green tea has long been a staple of life for many people across the globe. From fitness enthusiasts to tea connoisseurs, green tea is known for so many benefits inside and outside. Its versatility is what has made it so popular for thousands of years.
We are going to tell you how amazing it is for your skin (and some other benefits) because it is a simple and effective treatment.
History of green tea
Originating in China, green tea comes from many different places where they are grown and produced. Various legends go back as far as 2737 BC to how a Chinese emperor discovered tea as a beverage when the leaves fell from a tree into his cup of hot water. Buddhists are also thought to have discovered it as part of their meditation rituals and spread the use between India and China during their travels.
Slightly more modern tales suggest that a young Zen priest named Eisai brought the ritual back to Japan from his visits to China’s Buddhist monasteries. That was in 1190 and even today, China and Japan are the top producing green tea exporters in the world.
But what is green tea?
Did you know that green tea and black tea come from the exact same plant species? What defines “green” tea lies in the variety and its process.
A smaller leaf variety called Camellia sinensis native to China is used to make white and green tea. It came from a shrub that grew in sunny regions with dry and cooler climates. The green tea comes from Camellia sinesis and are quickly heated after harvest, either by pan-firing or steaming, and then dried to prevent oxidation.
When green tea is brewed it should be green, yellow, or even light brown. It has a flavour profile that ranges from grassy and toasted to vegetal and seaweed-like. This is due to the difference between pan-firing versus steaming the leaves. Chinese varietals are pan-fired while Japanese kinds are steamed.
Factors affecting the flavour include the time of year during which the leaf-picking occurs, the pruning method of the plant, whether the leaves are whole or trimmed, and the chemicals used to treat the plants.
Kinds of green tea
In China, green tea is pan-fired which means heating the leaves in either a basket, pan, or rotating drum. This stops oxidation. Firing more than once will affect the taste, but most of them will have a grass-like, roasted flavour.
Two popular kinds are Dragonwell and Gunpowder. Dragonwell has a smooth, flat appearance and is so distinct that no other region has been able to duplicate the flavour. Firing Gunpowder in a perforated metal tumbler gives the leaves a pellet shape when finished.
Steamed Japanese green teas give us what we may be more familiar with in Sencha and Matcha. Steaming the leaves occurs very briefly within hours of being plucked. This again stops oxidation and also brings out the colour of the leaves and the tea when brewed. Flavours from this can be sweet to seaweed-like. Some kinds may require shade during cultivation.
The most popular tea produced in Japan, Sencha makes up about 80% of the total. It involves rolling the leaves into long, skinny strands after steaming.
Roasting Sencha over high heat gives it a nutty flavour, becoming Hojicha. This also reduces the amount of caffeine.
Blend Sencha and popped rice, and you get Genmaicha. It is commonly served with food. Japan’s most treasured tea is Gyokoro. During the last few weeks of growing, the leaves are shaded to intensify their colour and flavour. Its process involves rolling the leaves into a thin, needle-like shape.
Matcha is also grown in the shade and then ground into a powder. It is a key component of Japanese tea ceremonies and has become trendy in cooking.
Benefits of green tea for skin
Even though green tea has a wide variety of health benefits, an added bonus is that it can also help you look better. Adding green tea to our routines could bring the endless searching of beauty miracles and products to an end!
A compound in the tea called EGCG, or epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is linked to things like enhanced metabolic rate (burn more calories) and can help regulate your weight.
Here are some exciting possibilities and ways to benefit from green tea:
Inflammation can cause all kinds of issues with your skin, like acne and psoriasis flare-ups. Medical research indicates that adding green tea to skin care products has great potential beyond what was previously thought.
Few things can ruin a great outfit like dandruff on your shoulders. If you suffer from dry, itchy scalp try using a shampoo that is fortified with green tea. It helps keep the fungus at bay that is causing the flakes. Give it a try and see if your condition does not improve.
Slows down aging
This won’t actually make you younger, but you can look it thanks to the magic of EGCG because it can reactivate dying skin cells. This only impacts the outer layer of skin but makes a huge difference in the formation of wrinkles and age spots, which are common problem areas for women.
Looking dewy is one thing, but an oily complexion can be so frustrating. Often, products aimed at reducing oil end up stripping the skin of necessary oils, causing dryness and all kinds of other issues.
The tannins in green tea can shrink your pores and reduce the amount of sebum your skin produces, without using harsh chemicals. A study found that products that contain just 3% green tea extract reduced sebum production by 70%.
Less acne and blackheads
When used topically in products, green tea makes a big difference to acne and blackhead presence. The antimicrobial, antioxidant, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties can help eliminate about half of acne if used twice a day in products containing about 2% green tea extract.
If you need a gentle, homemade way to exfoliate, dried green tea leaves have a slightly abrasive texture. This can help eliminate dead and rough facial skin cells and the excess oil and pollutants they contain.
Other health benefits of green tea
As if green tea did not give us enough with these glorious benefits for our skin, it goes above and beyond with additional health benefits. From assisting with weight loss to helping prevent things like cancer and diabetes, green tea has an incredible range of reasons why you should be drinking it.
Reduces cancer risk
Again, EGCG does wonders by fighting free radicals with the other polyphenols and it protects cells from DNA damage caused by reactive oxygen species. According to another study, green tea can prevent cancers in the lungs, skin, breast, liver, colon and pancreas. It can prevent cancer from spreading, as well as accelerate the recovery. The EGCG was found to kill cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. The study also showed that one would need to drink four cups a day to aid in treatment.
Improves heart health
Harvard Medical School conducted studies using green tea capsules and found that they could protect the heart and prevent disease by lowering bad cholesterol levels.
Green tea also increases the blood’s antioxidant capacity to prevent heart attacks. They also found that those who drink green tea are 31% lower risks for cardiovascular illness. Similarly, it lowers bad cholesterol without hurting good cholesterol.
Blood pressure regulation
The kidneys secrete an enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) which regulates blood pressure. Pharmaceuticals that regulate blood pressure act as ACE inhibitors but green tea is a natural inhibitor by preventing the action of the enzyme. People in a study had a 5% reduction in heart disease and reduced stroke risk of 8%.
Decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes
Green tea inhibits another enzyme called amylase that helps reduce sugar absorption in the bloodstream. The polyphenols regulate glucose levels and help metabolize sugar, decreasing diabetes risk. A Korean study showed that drinking six cups a day can lower the risk of diabetes risk to 33%. But that is a lot to imbibe for certain people.
Promotes weight loss
EGCG boots metabolism which can eventually help weight loss. It can also help remove fat from fat cells and boost the effects of some fat burning hormones.
A study from the UK showed that taking green tea extract helps to increase fat burn during moderate intensity exercise. Burning fat while you sleep may sound too good to be true, but green tea can help boost your metabolic rate.
Inflammation doesn’t just cause acne and skin issues, but can also affect arthritis symptoms, and bone and cartilage health too. The Arthritis Foundation claims that EGCG is more than 100 times as effective than vitamins C and E for arthritis. It can also reduce the inflammatory conditions in rheumatoid arthritis without interfering in other cellular functions.
EGCG may need to have its own Hall of Fame with all it does. It can regulate the number of regulatory T-cells that help improve immunity and suppress autoimmune diseases. Green tea protects against oxidants and free radicals and can be a big boost to your immune function.
Improves brain function
Does coffee make you too jittery when all you need is a little energy boost? Green tea has caffeine but not as much as coffee so you can get the energy boost without the side effects and jitters. It also contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and has an anti-anxiety effect.
In longer terms, green tea studies have shown that people who drank it once to six times a week had lower chances of mental decline, decreased risk of age-related dementia, and enhanced memory.
Good for digestion
Perhaps one of the reasons green tea is often served with meals is due to the antioxidants that help digestion. Digestion is slowed down by the catechins which means the intestines can’t absorb all the calories. This is how it also aids in weight loss.
The inflammatory disease colitis is also improved by the EGCG in green tea. Green tea was also found to decrease the rate of some gastrointestinal cancers.
Prevents tooth decay
An Indian study found that green tea can help oral health because it reduces inflammation (hello, again) and limits the growth of bacteria that can lead to periodontal diseases, such as tooth decay. A healthy smile isn’t just pretty, it’s important for your health, too!
How to use green tea for its benefits
Drinking green tea is one of the easiest and probably the most popular way to use it for its many benefits. You can always just dunk a tea bag in a cup of hot water but the professionals have some tips to get the most out of your tea.
First, the brewing depends on the variety and type, so check the packaging to see if there are specific instructions. If you bought it from a tea vendor, they can also guide you on the best process. But generally, you can follow these basic guidelines:
- Use fresh and cold, filtered water.
- Brew in short infusions around 160 to 180 degrees. If you don’t have an electric kettle with a temperature gauge, just let the boiling water sit before you pour it. You don’t want to scorch the tea because it will make the flavour bitter.
- Use about two grams of loose-leaf tea per cup (250ml or 8 ounces) of water.
- Cover the tea while it steeps to keep the heat in.
- Steep for 30 to 60 seconds for early harvest green tea and two to three minutes for regular harvest and robust teas.
- You can steep high-quality loose-leaf teas multiple times.
Easy! You can also add milk and sugar if you prefer but keep in mind that these add calories and may negate some of the health benefits.
Great for healthy skin
There are tons of products available now that include green tea extract as well. The antioxidants are key to the anti-aging benefits and our friend EGCG is at the centre. Products such as cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturizers can keep your skin protected from the hazardous parts of the environment. They will hydrate, reduce inflammation, reduce fine lines, and decrease dullness from your skin.
When you combine the concentrated form and apply it to your skin along with the benefits of drinking green tea, you will see amazing results over time. You will notice reduced irritation and redness and swelling will go down. The antibacterial agents will help kill systemic bacterial inflammation and treat acne and clogged pores.
Vitamins B2 and E are also present in green tea and help keep your skin looking lovely, young and refreshed. Caffeine and tannins shrink the blood vessels around your eyes, giving you de-puffed and bright eyes!
Do you wish you had thicker brows or did you over-tweeze them? Green tea leaf fibres can stimulate hair growth due to the catechins and polyphenols that stimulate cell turnover in your follicles.
There’s almost nothing green tea cannot assist with! Some at-home remedies you can also try include just using your green tea bags or brewed tea.
Did you wake up with puffy eyes? Place the tea bags on your eyes! Make a green tea and honey face mask to delay aging or expression lines and wrinkles.
- Moisten the green tea leaves from the bag and mix them with honey.
- Apply the pack to your face for 20 minutes then rinse with warm water.
To help with acne:
- Mix 100 grams of leaves with a half-litre of water and leave the mixture at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Strain the leaves and store the liquid in the refrigerator. It can be used to refresh your face after a long day and to clear acne and prevent its return.
- Freeze the liquid in ice cubes and then gently rub them on your skin in place of your toner.
To stimulate hair growth and soften your hair:
- Make green tea rinse by steeping three or four bags of tea in half a liter of water.
- Use it after you have shampooed and conditioned your hair as the last step.
As with anything, there are some risks with green tea. If you are ever unsure, please check with your medical provider before you begin any regimen.
If you drink more than about four to six cups a day, you can get headaches, nervousness, sleep issues, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and convulsions due to the side effects of the caffeine.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding cautions
More than two cups of green tea a day for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers may be unsafe. Always check with your doctor.
Caffeine can increase bleeding so use caution if you have a bleeding disorder.
Green tea extracts have been linked to liver damage cases so avoid use if you have any kind of liver disease.
Now that we have laid out the case for drinking and using green tea, you can look forward to reaping all the benefits! Gorgeous skin awaits so go ahead and add some green tea to your beauty routine!
Time for some green tea DIY!
We’ve included a face mask recipe to help you on your way and a delicious Japanese chocolate treat.
Matcha powder face mask
- 2 tablespoons matcha tea powder (be careful to choose a quality brand with no added sugar)
- 2 drops lemongrass essential oil (cleanses and purifies)
- 2 drops lavender essential oil (soothes sensitive skin areas)
- 1 tablespoon rose water
- 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 beaten egg (absorbs oil, tightens pores)
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Mix all the ingredients together.
- Smooth onto your face and neck and leave for 15 minutes.
- Rinse off with warm water.
Match nama chocolates
- 400g good quality white chocolate
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons matcha plus extra for sprinkling
- Line an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick baking paper.
- Break the white chocolate up into squares. Chop the butter into cubes.
- Put the cream into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and butter.
- Stir with a spatula until it has all melted. Stir in the matcha powder and combine well.
- Pour chocolate mixture into the dish. Smooth the top.
- Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge overnight.
- Remove the chocolate from the dish, using the baking paper to lift it out.
- Dip a sharp knife into boiling water, dry it and use it to cut the chocolate into squares.
- Dust the squares with some more matcha powder, sifting it over with a fine sieve or tea strainer.
- Store the squares in a covered container in the fridge. Serve them chilled.
- Eat within about 3 days.