Green tea is an amazing health elixir. If you're already an aficionado, good for you. If you have not yet converted to the delights of green tea, know it's chock-full of wonderful health benefits. The best green teas out there can help prevent cancer and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the two most common neurodegenerative diseases. It’s a great alternative to coffee since you still get that desired caffeine boost. Sure, it's an acquired taste with its mildly grassy flavor, but it’s so worth sipping. Get started with the 7 best green teas out there!
What Is Green Tea?
You might be surprised to learn that both back tea and green tea are the same species called Camellia sinensis. It’s just that green tea is processed differently!
How is Green Tea Made?
Black teas (and Oolong teas) undergo a withering and oxidation process that turns the tea leaves dark. This means that oxygen interacts with the plant’s cell walls, which turns the green leaves dark — from light brown to almost black.
Green tea is processed differently. After the leaves are harvested, they are quickly heated and dried. This prevents too much oxidation and keeps more health benefits intact. This is also why the leaves still have their vegetal, green, and grassy flavor.
Taste & Color
Green tea can taste grassy, sweet, slightly bitter, vegetal, plantlike, and even reminiscent of seaweed. When brewed, its hue can vary from light yellow and gold to amber and even light brown. Sometimes it can even be a vivid green.
How Much Caffeine Does Green Tea Have?
The content of caffeine per cup of green tea varies from brand to brew, but the best green teas contain less caffeine than black tea and a lot less than coffee. A cup of joe can contain an average of 95 to 200 mg, a cup of black tea can contain 14 to 61 mg, and a cup of green tea can contain 24 to 40 mg — all according to the Journal of Food Science. Despite these variations, though, the fact remains that green tea definitely contains much less caffeine than a cup of coffee.
Where Is Green Tea From?
While green tea originated in China, they now grow it in many East Asian countries and even in America. Green tea is the second most popular beverage in the world after water. That fact is not surprising, with so many countries in the world, outside the United States, sipping tea instead of water. People in Japan and China boast an average per capita consumption of three to four cups of green tea per day. Green tea is a staple in these countries. Older people (70 years and up) drink even more — ten cups a day is not unusual! Here in the U.S., we love our tea black and iced. Over 85 percent of tea consumed in the U.S. is chilled and most of it is purchased in the form of ready-to-drink tea bags.
Is Green Tea Good for Me?
Green tea has amazing health benefits that truly make it worth adding as a daily diet staple. Green tea is connected to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease. The caffeine in green tea may also boost weight loss. Research also indicates that antioxidants found in green tea may help lower cholesterol and prevent the development of diabetes.
Best of all, green tea has been well documented as being able to prevent certain cancers. Without getting too technical, green tea contains polyphenols. These are chemicals that scavenge the body for free radicals that cause cancer. They also protect cells from DNA damage caused by cell oxidization. Further, the polyphenols in green tea have the power to inhibit tumor cell growth.
Finally, the best green teas have immune-boosting powers and activate detoxification enzymes that can also help to prevent tumors from growing. As a strong immune booster, green tea might help prevent many issues by strengthening the immune system. Following are the biggest health benefits at a glance.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
7 Best Green Tea Brands at a Glance
From pasta to tea, we really like this supermarket brand. It’s always reliable quality. It also proves that green tea does not have to be expensive. Paul Newman has given more than $200 million to charities worldwide and claims his stuff is “quality fit for a king.” This green tea is ideal for newcomers just getting into a green tea regimen. SDA Organic and QAI certified organic, this green tea has a bold aroma but a light and smooth taste.
Featuring sustainable, traditional China green tea leaves, this offering from The Republic of Tea is delicate and smooth. Founded in 1992, The Republic of Tea supports organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. They source their products from the most prestigious tea gardens on the globe, using only the finest leaves. This is a pure, clean, and traditional brew for “the people” of the world!
This organic green tea comes from a cool Portland-based company that works selectively and believes in doing good. This does not alter or affect the taste of our favorite green tea, but it makes us happy when sipping it. In fact, there’s even a certification now for doing "Business for Good." The tea itself is not of a single origin but composed of a blend of green teas, which might bother experts, but not us. It’s a traditional Japanese-style green tea with a sweetly delicate flavor. Keep in mind that when we say sweet, we don’t actually mean sweet like sugar or honey, but grassy "sweet."
This is a very cool tea offering since the leaves have been carefully steamed and rolled into tight little pearls. When you steep the pearls in hot water, they unfurl, which is a lovely and meditative-looking effect, especially in a clear glass cup or mug. The traditional Numi Organic Tea in Gunpowder Green is packaged in non-GMO, biodegradable tea bags. It’s also organic.
One of the best green tea brands is Paromi Tea Palace. This organic green tea comes in biodegradable, pyramid-shaped sachets. It tastes mellow and non-astringent and has a fresh and floral aroma. Paromi Tea hails from a farm in the Hubei province of China, where green tea has been grown since the Tang Dynasty. All their tea is selected meticulously and processed in small batches. This is a great tea for both beginners and green tea pros.
Rishi is one of the best green tea brands around. They are a direct-trade importer of organic teas and botanicals from the very best sources, all grown without agrichemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers. Their “greenest tea” is made with vibrantly fresh matcha and sweet sencha. It’s organic and non-GMO. Plus, the sachet is biodegradable. It’s also available as a loose-leaf tea and with jasmine or tropical flavors. We like it unadulterated and pure.
While you can buy this lovely green tea on Amazon, you will find green teas for the most discerning palates on Rishi’s own website, from intricate Silver Spear and elegant Tohei-san’s Gyokuru to sweet Woojun and fragrant UjiGyokuro Secret Garden. These teas are expensive, ranging from about $20 to $110 per 100 grams, but they are truly among the best.
We love black tea with lemon, but green tea with a hint of citrus is delicious, too. This offering from one of our favorite brands for the best green teas, Harney and Sons, is a clean green tea with marigold petals and natural orange oil complemented by citrus flavors. It’s an invigorating, brisk delight with a strong aroma and a light body. Harney and Sons has been sourcing and selling over 200 fine teas from the most reputable gardens and estates in Asia and India since 1970. This tea comes in a gorgeous tin you will most likely want to keep!
Green tea is an acquired taste, but acquiring it is a smart move. While all tea has health benefits, this brew can fight cancer and heart disease and lower bad cholesterol, so maybe it's time you develop a palate for its mild and grassy flavor.
We have selected the 7 best green teas from among a wide variety of brands on the market to bring you the best brew for your tea time pleasure. We have omitted some cheaper brands such as Lipton because we wanted to bring you the finest teas.
Also, if you’re still getting used to green tea, there’s no shame in not drinking it plain like the purists. You can always add a little honey, agave nectar, or even a pinch of raw, organic sugar. It will not affect the health benefits. Don’t sip it piping hot! Let it cool and you’ll experience the flavors dancing on your palate. We hope you will soon be sipping pretty!