Green Tea > Chai for your health. To find out the reasons why we Indians should UP our green tea consumption and DOWN our chai intake, read on….
We, Indians are proud of our yummy concoction – Chai!!
Tea + water+ milk +spices+ sugar boiled into a frothy, hot beverage makes for a delicious drink in any weather at any time.
Feel sleepy – have chai!
Feel too full after a meal – have chai!
The weather feels dull – have chai!
Eating samosa / pakoda – have chai!
I, myself, used to easily down 3-4 cups (American size cups) of chai a day without skipping a beat. I was also 10-14 lbs heavier at that time. The weight loss, is of course, not just because of reducing my chai, but a combination of many changes to my diet + lifestyle, one of which was reduced chai consumption.
Here are some problems with increased chai consumption:
- The casein in the milk interferes with the absorption of antioxidants from the tea – which is a powerful benefit of tea you are missing.
- The repeated intake of sugar as you have your various cups of tea throughout the day keeps triggering the insulin response in your body.
- You are drinking the exact same ingredients over and over again thus reducing the diversity of foods you are providing your body.
So, maybe reducing your chai intake is good. But, why drink green tea instead? Keep reading to learn its benefits…
How is it made – Green Tea vs Black Tea?
Did you know – Black, green and even matcha tea comes from the same plant – Camellia Sinensis!!
If you are a food nerd like me, this may delight you in knowing that the 6 main types of tea – Green (incl Matcha), Yellow, White, Black, Oolong and Pur-eh – ALL come from the exact SAME plant, but the way the leaves are processed makes all the difference.
Tea leaves that are freshly picked, begin to wither, as all leaves do when severed from the plant. 1) They’re usually rubbed or rolled at this stage to break down their internal cell walls. 2) Green tea is heated at this point to stop the enzymes, then dried.
Black tea involves 1 extra step in-between – and that is fermentation/oxidation of the tea leaves. This 1 extra step – oxidation – converts the tea leaves from having a grassy, green taste to an earthy black product.
Why is drinking green tea better for your body?
Now green tea ends up with a lot of antioxidant / catechin compounds like EGCG. There are many beneficial properties [*ref 2] attributed to green tea and EGCG, some of which include:
- Reduces the risk of coronary disease
- increases elasticity of blood vessels
- reduces fatigue
- slows ageing process
- helps digestion
- reduced cholestrol
- strengthens the immune system
- great for your teeth
But, what about benefits of black tea? In black tea, these antioxidants ends up getting oxidized and converted to another set of compounds called theaflavins. Theaflavins also possess free-radical scavenging properties.
But, why are there not enough studies showing evidence of the benefits of drinking black tea? Is it because black tea is almost always drunk with milk?
Black Tea made with and without milk
We already talked about the casien in the milk interfering with the absorption of antioxidants from tea. The European Society of Cardiology issued a press release that the protective effect of tea was totally wiped out with the addition of milk.
Michael Greger has observed that – in 2 British studies increased tea consumption was reported with increased coronary risk, but in Netherlands, studies found black tea with decreased coronary risk similar to that of green tea. And guess what, the Brits drink their tea just like us with milk and sugar, but the Dutch drink their black tea straight up.
Drinking bitter, straight-up black tea is hard – it has more caffeine, it is more acidic, more bitter and more ‘kadak’ (which means strong – in hindi). So, we try to balance it out with milk and sugar, which is bad since it interferes with the antioxidant benefits of tea.
But, what if we did not process the leaves so much? – why not go to the previous processing step and drink green tea instead?
Green tea is basically – Greens + Water – Both are awesome things for your body.
Try to drink green tea every day.
The phytonutrients in the tea appear so powerful that green tea bags are applied to remove skin warts successfully [*ref 1]. They are even recommended for skin and hair beauty treatments. If green tea can do that on the outside of the body, imagine the health benefits on the inside.
References -Amazon Affiliate Links
A fantastic book – cannot recommend enough: How not to Die – Michael Greger
Tea Second Edition : A pictorial delight of tea, its history, types – everything you need to know about tea, really!!