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12 Incredible Benefits and Uses of Green Tea

March 26, 2021

Green tea (Camellia sinensis) leaves have found their way into research labs, household cabinets and, of course, kettles and cups all over the world. Find out how you can put green tea to work for health, wellness and even natural cleaning.

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An Historic Sip

Legend has it that the Chinese emperor Shennong "discovered" tea in 2737 B.C. When a servant boiled water for him to drink, a dead leaf from the wild tea bush — Camellia sinensis — fluttered into the kettle and steeped. The emperor found the accidental brew refreshing, and the rest, as they say, is history. Thousands of years old, tea is now one of the oldest beverages that we still consume.

“Tea and green tea are rich in polyphenols, including catechins, theaflavins and thearubigins, which are thought to contribute to the health benefits of tea,” explains Dr. Jennifer Krejci, an assistant professor of dermatology at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most abundant polyphenol found in tea. Tea polyphenols act as antioxidants in vitro by scavenging reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and chelating redox-active transition metal ions. An average cup of green tea contains between 300 to 400 mg of polyphenols.”

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Reading the Tea Leaves

Green tea has been associated with health and wellness for millennia, but we’re still very much in the thick of figuring out precisely how it benefits us. “It is difficult to measure polyphenols in the body which makes studies tricky for both oral and topical administration, but it appears that frequent consumption increases the ability to measure polyphenols in the body,” Dr. Krejci says. As a board-certified dermatologist, she’s usually treating skin conditions with FDA-approved prescription medications. “But I do find patients searching more often for ‘alternative treatments’ like green tea and studies on these ingredients are growing. We know that polyphenols, such as catechins, have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antineoplastic properties.” Here are some of the ways green tea can enhance your wellness, beauty and cleaning routines.

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Supporting Gut Health

“Polyphenol antioxidants get broken down into food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. This promotes a diverse microbiome that’s tied to better health,” says Samantha Cassetty, M.S., R.D. and co-author of Sugar Shock, about the hidden sugar in food. According to a 2019 research review published in Nutrients, drinking green tea can help counteract microbial imbalances caused by obesity and high-fat diets.

While we’re talking about diet, know that “what you put in your tea matters,” as Cassetty puts it. “A little honey or sugar in your tea is no big deal, but if you’re drinking several cups like that, you might be exceeding added sugar limits,” she says. Those limits are 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men.

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Combating Acne

“For acne, there is evidence that green tea decreases sebum production in the skin and can help in topical preparations,” Dr. Krejci says. “I find these effects are usually milder than the results you might obtain from a prescription acne product but they may also be less irritating." Try Teami Superfood Cleanser, a gentle product for all skin types that’s made with Camellia sinensis powder and extract.

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