Throughout history, green tea has been associated with tranquility and good health. It is believed among experts and historians that before the 10th century, leaves from the tea plant were chewed raw for medicinal purposes and not as a stimulant. It’s a wholesome and palatable natural beverage that calms as it revitalizes, and is the least processed of all the tea types.
Though tea has been drunk for thousands of years, the production of tea has historically been a laborious process, and it wasn’t until the 14th century that a decree was issued declaring that only loose tea would be accepted as tribute. Tribute tea was any tea of a special nature, the best of the harvest, and as a result of this decree, loose tea production and processing advanced in both technique and quantity.
So what exactly is green tea and how does it differ from other types of tea?
There are literally thousands of varieties of tea.Generally, white, green, oolong, and black, in that order, get stronger in taste, and the tea plant (camellia sinensis) has undergone a series of processes over centuries leading to its modern state. It can be eaten raw, heated in water, sun dried, oxidized, steamed, fermented, smoked, and fired or fried.
Green tea is made from the mature leaves of the plant. It is not fermented and has a high antioxidant content. Green teas can range in flavor from strong, pleasant, and lingering to light, fresh, and mellow.
During sleep, our bodies go into a repair and restoration process, so it’s beneficial to drink green tea about 1 hour before bedtime to promote a deeper and more restful sleep.
- GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric acid) in green tea slows down nervous action in the brain so it works as a sleep aid, and although even the best green tea does contain a small amount of caffeine, it also contains l-theanine, a compound that neutralizes caffeine’s stimulating effects without compromising its characteristic fat burning effects.
- Theanine also works to “level out” brain waves in much the same way as relaxing pre-sleep pastimes such as reading or listening to restful music do. In test subjects, it did not extend the length of sleep overall but allowed sleepers to stay asleep once they fell asleep. Sleep quality was better and recovery from exhaustion was improved.
- L-theanine crosses the blood brain barrier and affects serotonin and other neurotransmitters. By altering the levels of amino acids in the brain, it has a positive effect on brain chemistry.
Here are some other benefits of drinking green tea at bedtime to aid the body’s restoration process:
- Tea is hydrating, containing more than 99% water
- Green tea has unique antioxidants
- ECGC (epigallocatechingallate) may help fight cancer-causing free radicals and clear up clogged arteries
- Drinking green tea has been shown to help fight infection
Today, there is a modern explosion of tea houses, tea cultivators, and master blenders, and if prepared according to the ancient ceremonial tradition, drinking green tea can be a meditational experience unlike any other.