We live in an age in which everyone is looking for the newest, trendiest superfood.
Given all the number of new-fangled products emerging on the shelves of health food stores every day, it helps to remember that often the most beneficial foods and drinks are the ones that have been around the longest.
Legend has it that green tea was first brewed in China in 2737 B.C. The story goes that the tea was made by accident, because the Emperor Shennong drank water that had been boiled with a tea leaf in it.
Initially green tea was a luxury, enjoyed only by the upper classes. In the 14th century, when its health benefits became widely known, it began to be used on the general public by medical practitioners.
Green tea is thought to boost the metabolism, and its high antioxidant content makes it a one-of-a-kind anti-inflammatory drink. Studies suggest it is good for cardiovascular health and may even help ward off certain cancers.
So, given that its credentials as an ancient “super drink” are beyond dispute, when is the best time to be drinking this almost magical brew?
When is the best time to drink green tea?
Green tea is caffeinated and is therefore best enjoyed in the morning or in the early afternoon. Green tea should be served at least twenty minutes after a meal. For maximum freshness, drink it within four months of purchase. Green tea has cooling effects and makes a great summer drink.
Drink green tea in the morning
Green tea is a naturally caffeinated beverage. In fact, all five of the main tea varieties that come from oxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant contain caffeine. A cup of green tea contains approximately 35 mg of caffeine.
It may surprise some people to know that, in fact, it is a variety of green tea, not black tea that has the highest caffeine content of all the teas.
In any case, whether you are enjoying a steamed Japanese sencha, or have whipped up a milky matcha latte, it is best to drink caffeinated beverages early in the day.
Some people like to have a caffeinated drink first thing after they wake up in order to get their day going. They find that it increases their alertness and their energy levels.
There are even those who swear that a cup of green tea about half an hour before a morning workout helps them reap the greatest benefits from an early gym session.
Others enjoy a cupper as a mid-morning pick-me-up or to give them a post-lunch boost.
Drinking green tea too late in the day may cause you to have difficulty sleeping. Consuming too many cups of a caffeinated drink throughout the day can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, fidgeting, and nervousness.
Medical professionals advise ceasing caffeine consumption six or more hours before bedtime.
So, if you have had three cups of green tea already and the time is 7 p.m., it is probably not the best time to drink green tea.
If you feel you absolutely can’t resist an evening cup of green tea, opt for a cup of the Japanese houijicha variety.
Unlike most Japanese green teas, which are oxidized by having their leaves steamed, Houjicha leaves are oxidized by being roasted in a porcelain pot over charcoal. This results in a lower caffeine content.
Drink green tea between mealtimes
Despite the fact that many people do so, it is not advisable to drink green tea before your first meal of the day.
Drinking green tea on an empty stomach can cause irritation, because it contains tannins that increase the acid levels. Too much acid leads to digestive problems, including acid reflux and nausea.
Those who are particularly sensitive to caffeine may experience headaches if they drink green tea without having had food beforehand.
Many seasoned tea drinkers will tell you that green tea should be consumed at least twenty minutes after a meal.
In addition to avoiding the symptoms of indigestion and irritation described above, this is because green tea contains several compounds that can bind to minerals in your body.
This can prevent them from being properly absorbed by the body, and therefore reduce the benefits provided by a healthy, mineral-rich meal.
The tannins found in green tea are known to reduce iron absorption. Green tea contains the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which can prevent iron and chromium from being absorbed by the body.
Drink green tea within four months of purchase
Tea, and loose-leaf tea in particular, doesn’t stay good forever.
Have you ever wondered about the expiry date of tea and how long it really lasts? The answer is, not as long as you might think!
This is especially true when it comes to wondering how long loose leaf tea stays fresh. Loose-leaf green tea should be consumed within four months of purchase. While the tea leaves won’t go bad, per se, their quality will begin to diminish.
If you are wondering when the best time to drink green tea is, as far as its shelf life is concerned, the answer is: As soon as possible! The sooner you drink your tea, the better the benefits you will reap from it.
Drink green tea as a summer cooling drink
Another way the question “What is the best time to drink green tea?” might be interpreted, is as, “What time of year is the best time to drink green tea?”
Of course, there is no definitive time of year that is best to consume this green brew. Most green tea drinkers are life-long devotees and will drink it year-round.
That said, for someone who is green-tea curious, a good time of year to begin a green tea habit is summer. Green tea, like white tea, has unique cooling properties.
Especially when you add in one of the best sweeteners for tea and chill a batch of well-brewed green sencha, you can create a delectable iced summer beverage.