Green Tea: The Optimal Preparation

Green tea has numerous health benefits. But how does it have to be prepared so that you can enjoy these effects? How long and at what degrees should the green tea steep? Is one infusion enough or should it be infused several times? Is Lemon Juice in Tea a Good Idea? We answer these questions here.

Green Tea – Preparation for the greatest health benefits

Drinking green tea is worthwhile in several respects: On the one hand, the preparation and consumption of green tea is a relaxing ritual for many people. In some cultures, green tea is traditionally celebrated in several infusions.

Green Tea – Preparation for the greatest health benefits

Drinking green tea is worthwhile in several respects: on the one hand, the preparation and consumption of green tea is a relaxing ritual for many people. In some cultures, green tea is traditionally celebrated in several infusions.

Green tea: The optimal temperature and brewing time

Chinese researchers have measured the highest antioxidant effect with the best taste at the same time at a temperature of 82 degrees and a brewing time of 6 minutes. So unless you have a high-tech kettle at home that can tell you the temperature with pinpoint accuracy, use 80 degrees as a guide.

Even if you don’t hit exactly 82 degrees, it doesn’t matter: In summary, the findings of four studies from 2015 to 2019 showed that the greatest antioxidant effect is achieved when green tea is infused with 80 to 100 degrees hot water and then 5 draws up to 10 minutes.

The range in temperature and brewing time comes about because the tea itself has an influence: on the one hand, the origin of the green tea plays a role, on the other hand, the drying process and whether it is loose tea or tea in a tea bag.

Various methods were also used to measure the antioxidant content, which of course also has an impact on the result.

Green tea in tea bags is no worse than loose tea

American researchers examined the influence of the factors just mentioned in more detail. The question was whether it makes sense from a health point of view to infuse green tea several times.

While the loose tea still had antioxidant effects after brewing the tea leaves six times, this was less the case with the tea in tea bags. The reason for this, the researchers suspect, lies in the size of the tea leaves.

Since the tea in tea bags is usually cut smaller than loose tea, most of the catechins are already transferred to the tea water during the first infusion – other antioxidants are still present after the first infusion, however.

Most teas in tea bags released around 60 to 80 percent of their antioxidant activity the second time they were brewed. The loose tea, on the other hand, contained almost the same amount of antioxidants as the first infusion if it was infused again within an hour.

Three minutes stimulating, five minutes calming?

You may know the rule of thumb that green tea is energizing if steeped for three minutes and calming if steeped for five minutes. The rule of thumb is that the caffeine dissolves in the first few minutes and provides a stimulating effect. Only then do the so-called tannins – tannins that have a calming effect on the digestive system – dissolve.

However, the caffeine does not simply disappear if the tea steeps longer – so the green tea is still stimulating even after five minutes, but can at the same time calm the digestion due to the higher proportion of tannins.

How often should you infuse green tea?

Overall, eight out of ten loose teas still released antioxidants after the sixth infusion, compared to only three out of 14 tea bags. The sixth infusion of loose teas usually provided around 20 to 40 percent of the number of antioxidants in the first infusion. So you can infuse loose tea up to six times.

However, since the taste of the tea also changes with each infusion, you should consider whether you can still enjoy the tea after three infusions or whether you would rather use fresh tea. Traditionally, two to three green tea infusions are common. Only particularly high-quality teas are infused more often.

With tea in tea bags, on the other hand, it is usually not worth brewing it three times – one or two infusions are sufficient. The overall antioxidant effect was on average little different between loose tea and tea bags – however, the loose tea needs to be steeped more often to release the same antioxidant content as green tea in bags.

Brew green tea from China several times

It was also shown that green teas from China had higher antioxidant potential than teas from Kenya, Japan, India, Belarus, and Ukraine. Most of the Chinese teas examined came from the Zhejiang region in eastern China, which, with its misty mountain landscapes, appears to provide optimal growing conditions. With loose teas from China, repeated infusions are particularly worthwhile.

However, a large proportion of the teas examined came from China and Japan, which is why the result could be distorted. To say that green teas from other countries generally have a lower antioxidant effect would be wrong. To do this, one would have had to examine at least as many teas from the other regions.

Factors that are of less use to the consumer are the time of harvest and the drying method since this information is usually not given on the packaging. Tea leaves harvested in spring contain more antioxidants than those harvested in autumn – depending on the measurement method, the antioxidant activity of the tea from the autumn harvest was only half as great. Steam drying proved to be the gentlest drying method. Of course, you can ask the manufacturer/dealer for these details.

Lemon in green tea increases the absorption of catechins

If you enjoy drinking your green tea with a squeeze of lemon juice, you should definitely continue to do so. A study by American researchers found that lemon juice — or the vitamin C it contains — increases the absorption of catechins such as EGCG during digestion.

When examined in an artificial digestion model, 80 percent more catechins remained after digestion in green tea with lemon juice, which is then available to the body. Since vitamin C is one of the heat-sensitive vitamins, you should only add lemon juice after the brewing time, when the tea is no longer quite as hot.

Is green tea better without milk?

When it comes to the question of whether milk in green tea has a positive or negative effect on catechins, the state of research is not quite as clear. The numerous studies that have been carried out over the past 20 years have come to contradictory conclusions.

New Zealand researchers have tried to find their way through the jungle of studies and answer the question. On the one hand, studies show that milk in tea reduces or completely eliminates the antioxidant effect of catechins. Other studies suggest the opposite — namely that milk does not affect or may even increase the antioxidant effects of these compounds.

However, the studies showing that milk has negative effects on green and black tea are in the majority, so the researchers have a little more to gain from this theory. The amino acid proline, which is found in the milk protein casein, is said to combine with the catechins in the tea, which reduces the bioavailability of the catechins.

This was also the case with soy milk, although it contains less proline – so the effect cannot be attributed to the proline alone. How other plant drinks affect the catechins have not been studied, but it can be assumed that these do not have the same influence as soy milk since soy milk is most comparable in composition to cow’s milk.

Another theory is that the absorption of catechins and polyphenols, in general, is only delayed by the connection with the milk proteins – this question has not yet been fully clarified.

Conclusion: The optimal preparation of green tea

Proceed as follows when preparing the green tea:

Temperature and steeping time

If you want to benefit optimally from the antioxidant effects of green tea, pour hot water at 82 (or 80 to 100) degrees and let it steep for 6 minutes (although 5 to 10 minutes are still acceptable).

Within this leeway, everyone can then decide for themselves whether to brew the tea hotter and let it brew for less time so that it tastes a little milder, or whether to let it brew longer so that the taste is a little stronger.

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