Drinking fresh brewed tea can be both healthy and enjoyable. However, the vast majority of nutritional components found in green tea leaves are never transferred over to the brewed tea. When you throw away tea leaves, you are throwing away a cornucopia of nutrients. Many tea experts recommend triple brewing good quality tea leaves. While this will continue to provide great tasting tea, you will still not be receiving the vast majority of the nutrients that are available in the green tea leaves.
Green tea is loaded with flavonoids, a potent variety of antioxidants. A great deal of research has been done (much of it referenced on this web site) which demonstrates that the antioxidants found in green tea are extremely beneficial to our health in many ways. Most of the research around green tea has focused on catechins (a specific type of flavonoid) which make up the largest percentage of what is found in green tea leaves. It is believed the catechins are the real powerhouse of the green tea plant. The table below was pulled from the USDA web site and provides a fantastic look at just how much more beneficial the whole tea leaf is compared to just drinking the brew. For the most part there is an 8,000 to 10,000% increase in antioxidants found in whole green tea leaves compared to brewed green tea. The evidence is very convincing. The best way to get the most nutritional benefit from green tea is to eat the whole leaf.
|Flavonoid Comparison of Brewed Green Tea vs Whole Green Tea Leaves.Units = mg/ 100g|
|Source: PDF Download|
|Flavonoid||Brewed Green Tea||Whole Green Tea Leaves||% Difference|
|Epicatechin 3-gallate||19.73||1701.59||8,524% Increase|
|Epigallocatechin 3-gallate||77.81||8294.91||10,560% Increase|
A word of caution though – not all green tea is created equal. First of all, if you’re going to eat your green tea be sure that it is certified organic. Green tea plants will absorb toxic elements from its environment and pass those along to you in greater concentrations than if you were just drinking the brew. So the first step in choosing an appropriate green tea for eating is to ensure that it has been certified organic. This means that harmful fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides have not been dumped on the plants – and thus will not make it into your body.
Unfortunately, just choosing an organic green tea is not enough. Many green tea plantations are still exposed to industrial pollution because of their geographic location. Polluted rain water, toxic runoff in the soil, and noxious gasses from nearby plants are just a few of the ways that an organic tea farm could still be exposed to unsafe levels of toxins. The only way to ensure that you’re getting the safest green tea available is to choose a vendor who has lab-tested their green tea leaves. EatGreenTea.com tested tea samples from several organic farms to ensure that we’re bringing you the purest green tea leaves available.
While the catechins get all the attention when it comes to green tea research, there are many other vitamins and minerals present in green tea. Just like we see with the catechins, there are a great deal more nutrients found in the whole tea leaf as compared to the resulting brew. Really, it is common sense when you stop and think about it. If you were to make Italian Wedding Soup with spinach, escarole, swiss chard, or another green – you wouldn’t throw all the greens out after letting the soup cook. So why do we do it with our green tea?
|Nutrient Comparison of Brewed Green Tea vs Whole Green Tea Leaves per 100g|
|Source: “Chemistry and Applications of Green Tea” T. Yamamoto. Copyright 1997|
|Nutrient||Brewed Green Tea||Whole Green Tea Leaves||% Difference|
|Calcium (mg)||2||390||19,400% Increase|
|Phosphorus (mg)||12||410||3317% Increase|
|Iron (mg)||0.1||10.4||10,300% Increase|
|Potassium (mg)||180||2800||1,456% Increase|
|Vitamin A (U)||0||21000||N/A|
|Vitamin A (IU)||0||12000||N/A|
|Vitamin B1 (mg)||0.01||0.3||2,900% Increase|
|Vitamin B2 (mg)||0.06||1.16||1833% Increase|
|Niacin (mg)||0.3||6||1,900% Increase|
|Caffeine (%)||3.5||3.5||No change|
|Tannin (%)||0.23||10||4,248% Increase|