Green tea, native to China and India, has been consumed and hailed for its health benefits for centuries globally, but has only recently gained popularity in the US.
Tea is considered the most consumed beverage in the world behind water, however 78% of the tea consumed worldwide is black and only about 20% is green.1
All types of tea except herbal tea are brewed from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. The level of oxidation of the leaves determines the type of tea.
Green tea is made from un-oxidized leaves and is the least processed type of tea and therefore contains the most antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols.
Green tea was used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine to control bleeding and heal wounds, aid digestion, improve heart and mental health and regulate body temperature.4 Recent studies have shown green tea can potentially have positive effects on everything from weight loss to liver disorders to type 2 diabetes.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of green tea and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, the different forms of green tea, and some precautions when consuming green tea.
Nutritional breakdown of green tea
Unsweetened brewed green tea is a zero calorie beverage. The caffeine contained in a cup of tea can vary according to length of infusing time and the amount of tea infused.
In general, green tea contains a relatively small amount of caffeine (approximately 20-45 milligrams per 8 oz cup), compared with black tea which contains about 50 milligrams and coffee with 95 milligrams per cup.2
Green tea is considered one of the world’s healthiest drinks and contains the highest amount of antioxidants of any tea. The natural chemicals called polyphenols in tea are what are thought to provide its anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects.
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the most studied and bioactive polyphenol in tea and has been shown to be the most effective at eliminating free radicals.1, 4
Green tea is approximately 20% to 45% polyphenols by weight, of which 60% to 80% are catechins such as EGCG