In the Kitchen: Gunpowder Green Tea (& its health benefits)
I decided I wanted to buy loose-leaf tea for a while. I like tea, but I have never fallen in love with tea. I usually just buy what is on sale in the box at the grocery store. You’d think I would know better; good ingredients matter, and that is true for meat and lettuce and even tea.
So I went to a local tea store and bought some loose-leaf green tea. I have heard and read all the great benefits of green tea (see below), but it hasn’t made a regular appearance in my diet. I thought if I had better quality tea, I would be more apt to drink it.
I bought gunpowder tea, mostly because it has a delicious smokey smell and it was almost gone at the store (which means other people like it!). Well, I love it! I mean, I love it. And I don’t just mean I tolerate drinking tea – I actually enjoy it.
Besides the taste, one of the coolest things to me is watching the dried leaves as they steep. I wasn’t sure why it was called gunpowder tea until I saw how the leaves explode as they become saturated. I have been so inthralled with this process that I had to take some photos.
Here are the dried leaves in the bottom of the cup. They are rolled up very small.
Now I add hot water.
And I let the tea leaves steep. They are beginning to unravel.
A little more time, a little more leaf.
Look at that leaf! This process is so intriguing to me. And the taste of the tea is delicious. A side benefit is that the leaves are heavy and sink to the bottom, so I have been known to brew it just as these pictures are taken and drink the tea with the leaves still in the bottom.
A 2004 Harvard Health Study notes the benefits of drinking green tea:
“Tea’s health benefits are largely due to its high content of flavonoids — plant-derived compounds that are antioxidants. Green tea is the best food source of a group called catechins. In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.
“Additional benefits for regular consumers of green and black teas include a reduced risk for heart disease. The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea.”
The article says to brew unprocessed tea freshly three times per day and drink it between meals to get the maximum benefits from the tea.