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Green tea, an ancient drink brewed from the leaves of a Camellia sinensis tree, first came into vogue in the early 8th century when Buddhist monks drank it to intensify their concentration during long hours of prayer and meditation. Today, scientists have identified long-term health benefits of drinking green tea, which is plush with some of the most potent antioxidants around.


Green tea contains a large number of flavonoids, antioxidants that are found in plants. And green tea’s specific flavonoids are catechins. In addition to protecting cells from oxidative stress, scientific studies have also found an association between green tea and reduced risks for high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer, including colon, lung, breast and skin.


In fact, a 1992 study of more than 3,000 Japanese women found that those who drank green tea daily had considerably lower mortality than those who did not. Scientists attributed the women’s overall wellbeing to the tea’s antioxidants, which reduced the harmful effects of aging and the tea’s vitamins (including C, A and Riboflavin). In short, as Harvard Health Publications concludes, “green tea is the best food source [of] catechins.”


To get the most out of green tea:


* Don’t use boiling water to make it. That can kill the catechins. Use water that’s between 160 and 170 degrees.

* Let the tea steep for three to five minutes to bring out the catechins. Don’t brew green tea too long; it can get bitter.

* Adding lemon to your green tea will help you better absorb its healthful ingredients.

* Drink your tea freshly brewed. Bottling and canning reduces green tea’s healthy compounds.

* Green tea contains caffeine, so if you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, consult your doctor.

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