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A Sip of Green Tea Is a Sip of Health

Posted May. 16, 2004 22:09,   


The Goryeo dynasty was the golden period for tea. Tea was loved both by the commoner and the noble. Dahbahng, a governmental office for handling tea, Dahsochon, a place where they grow tea, Dahjom, a tea place for the commoner, and Dahwon, a tea place for travelers were all prosperous in that era.

The Josun dynasty experienced much oppression regarding tea. With a policy of promoting Confucianism and oppressing Buddhism, the Buddhist temples that grew tea decreased by a great number, and alcoholic drinks, instead of tea, were used for ceremonial occasions. However, the love for tea did not diminish. Kim Jung-hee composed a poem about his love for tea and Chung Yak-yong gave himself a nickname, Dahsan (meaning “a mountain of tea”).

Today, after all these centuries, we consume 80 grams of tea per person every year. The south region in May is busy with the harvest of tea leaves. How about a cup of green tea and a slice of good health to go with it?

--An effective diet and beauty aid

First of all, green tea is low in calories. One cup contains approximately one calorie. One can of coke contains more than 130 calories.

Catechin, the source of the bitter taste in green tea, decomposes fat and prevents nutrients from being absorbed. Therefore, one can prevent fat from accumulating in your body if he/she drinks green tea after a meal. This is the Green Tea Diet.

Catechin also calms one`s skin and inhibits aging. Professor Chung Jin-ho at Seoul National University found that an old man in his seventies who applied green tea extract on his buttocks for three times a week for six weeks had a noticeable improvement in the youthfulness of his skin.

In addition, green tea increases elasticity to skin and is rich in Vitamin A, C, B2, tocopherol, and others, which are proven to have whitening effects.

--Green Tea and Medicine

It has been proven through many researches that tea has anti-cancer effects. Dr. John Weisburger of the American Health Foundation says, "You can prevent cancer if you drink six cups of green tea every day."

Professor Min Won-ki and his research team at the Laboratory Medicine Department of Seoul Asan Hospital had 20 smokers drink 150 milliliters of green tea four times a day for four weeks and found that their levels of cholesterol decreased. Green tea is effective in ridding the body of environmental hormones as well.

Recently, there are claims that green tea inhibits allergies. The more mice in a lab were fed with green tea, the less they suffered from sources of allergies.

If your drinking is combined with green tea, it will help you wake from a hangover. Caffeine stimulates urination, and vitamin C helps decompose acetaldehyde, a causal element of hangovers.

--Ways to increase tea’s benefits

Tea bags are always handy, but they can never be compared to loose tea when it comes to nutrition. Experts recommend steeping tea in water of 70 degrees centigrade for three minutes for the best taste. More minutes of steeping will increase the bitter taste.

If you care about health, you have to steep tea at a high temperature. Only 50 percent of tea’s catechin comes out when steeping in 70-degree water for three minutes. Catechin does not melt in milk. Instead, you have to mix green tea powder with milk in order to drink "green tea milk."

Tea leaves left over after drinking can be used in healing acne. Steep leftover tea for ten minutes and wash your face twice a day in the water for two weeks. The important thing is to pat your cheeks when washing.

There are hardly any side effects of green tea. But only two or three cups a day are recommended for people with weak stomachs, anemia, and osteoporosis.

(References: Professor of Cosmetic Surgery Oh Kap-sung at Samsung Seoul Hospital, Dept. Director Lee Sun-hee at Health Medical Science, Researcher So Sung at the Technology Center at Taepyongyang Inc.)

Sang Hoon Kim corekim@donga.com