If you find yourself sipping on a cup of tea in the morning or whipping up a matcha latte mid-afternoon, you’re not alone.
It is estimated that over 159 million Americans consume tea every day. And, no doubt, some of those tea-drinkers are in it for more than just the delicate flavor.
There are four main kinds of tea: black, green, oolong, and white, not including herbal options.
And while they all offer certain health benefits, green tea is often the tea of choice for the health-conscious crowd.
Here, let’s break down how exactly green tea got its status as a veritable health hero and why.
Health benefits of green tea
Everyone knows that green tea is good for you, but why? What exactly can this bittersweet liquid do for you? Apparently, a lot.
Here are the top reasons you should be sipping green tea every day:
It features strong antioxidants
It may relieve inflammation
Many experts now believe that inflammation is at the root of almost all chronic diseases, from cardiovascular disease to cognitive decline.
It may reduce the risk of heart disease
A study conducted on Japanese men and women found that those who drank green tea had a decrease in cardiovascular disease risks.
It may reduce complications from diabetes
Research shows green tea can improve insulin sensitivity7, protect pancreatic cells from further damage, and decrease inflammation, all benefiting those at risk for or already diagnosed with diabetes.
However, one study published in Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate a high rice diet who also drank seven or more cups of green tea a day had a lower risk of diabetes9 than those who did not drink green tea, suggesting a protective effect.
It may help rev up your metabolism
It may help improve brain function
Other studies have found that the combination of polyphenols and caffeine in green tea can influence psychopathological symptoms and help reduce anxiety, improve alertness, and brain function14 in healthy adults.
It may help prevent and treat some cancers
While research has yielded mixed results, and thus, is still preliminary in nature, the antioxidants in green tea, specifically the catechin EGCG15, has shown benefits for reducing metastasis and improving outcomes for cancers of the breasts, lungs, colon, skin, and others.
While much more research is needed in order to consider green tea a viable treatment, it might be beneficial to get brewing.
It may benefit oral health
It may help physical and mental performance
The small amounts of caffeine in green tea confer some benefits, too.
Similar to white and oolong tea, green tea has about 25 to 35 mg of caffeine per cup.
For reference, a cup of coffee contains around 95 mg caffeine or more depending on brewed strength. Which means you can get enough to improve mental and physical performance, without going overboard on caffeine.
One study found that over a period of 10 weeks, endurance exercise performance improved by 24% in individuals who took green tea extract.
Green tea vs. matcha: A comparison
Green tea is available as loose-leaf or bagged tea, as green tea extract in powder or capsules, or as Matcha powder.
Matcha is essentially green tea powder but differs from brewed green tea in that the tea leaves are covered prior to harvest, yielding a more concentrated flavor and higher caffeine and antioxidant levels.
Who shouldn't drink green tea
While there are tons of reasons to drink green tea, there are a few to avoid it, as well.
Those who are allergic or sensitive to caffeine may need to limit or avoid green tea consumption.
Also, the caffeine and tannins in coffee and tea can reduce iron absorption, especially plant-based iron. Therefore, those diagnosed with or at risk for anemia may need to reduce or avoid coffee and tea intake.
Always check the source of your tea. If not responsibly or organically grown, it can contain chemicals and metals from the soil it was grown in.
How much green tea should you drink?
While there isn't enough sufficient evidence on the exact number of cups to drink per day, 2-4 cups of green tea per day seems to be the optimal amount to reap the most benefits.
Always consult with your doctor if you are sensitive to large amounts of caffeine or are unsure how much tea you should consume daily.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 30, 2012. A previous version of this article indicated that green tea can improve mental clarity in individuals. We have since clarified that statement to indicate that green tea can influence psychopathological symptoms and help reduce anxiety, which, in turn can help improve mental clarity in healthy individuals.
Natalie is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion to help others live their best life through food, fitness, safer beauty and a healthy lifestyle. She has expertise with a variety of diets and diseases and believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for health. Natalie consults for various organizations, like Apple, Inc., healthline.com, Head Health, Inc., and others, providing medical review, recipe and video creation, program development and delivery, seminars, and other services. She has also advocated for personalized functional nutrition and nutrigenomics-based lifestyle changes through her private practice Nutrition By Natalie since 2007. Natalie graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, and went on to pursue her graduate dietetic internship to become an RDN through Marywood University in Pennsylvania.
Natalie loves spending time with her husband and three children in the kitchen, garden and in nature. She is a foodie at heart and loves most cuisines, but especially spicy Indian and Thai.