Those who lead a healthy lifestyle, keep a close watch on what’s what in the world of superfoods. For them, there’s no better beauty and health maven than Mother Nature itself. The most effective ingredients are coming from her or she inspires new substances and ways to tackle our problems. This especially holds true for green tea. If the mythical fountain of youth was real, it could very well be green tea.
Although not as popular as its cousin, black tea, green tea is widely drunk in many Asian countries, including India, Japan, Korea, and China. Since ancient times, the Chinese have known about its health and beauty benefits. They used it in traditional medicine for it seems like every aliment there is: To control bleeding, heal wounds, aid digestion, regulate body temperature, improve heart, and even for mental health.
Black tea, green tea, what’s the difference?
All tea types, except herbal, that is black tea, oolong tea, and green tea is made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. Unlike the first two varieties, to make green tea, the leaves are not fermented before steaming and drying. It’s the level of fermentation that the leaves go through that makes out how the tea will turn out in terms of colour, flavour, and nutritional compounds.
Green tea is light yellow to pale green. Since it’s the least processed of the teas, it retains the majority of its beneficial health compounds. As the name Camellia sinensis suggests, tea originated in China, but it’s also produced throughout the world in places such as Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India.
Green tea is said to be discovered by Japanese monks while visiting China to study Zen Buddhism. They returned home with their new discovery of green tea’s wonderful healing properties. Ever since then, Japanese monks have used it as a daily staple, claiming it gave them energy and mental focus that enhanced their meditation.
Returning to the present day and you’ll see how well-deserved the health repute of green tea is. It’s so good for you that even some researchers are raving about it. It’s all about the antioxidants in green tea. Of all the known antioxidants, the components of green tea are the most potent.
Antioxidants are vital for your health. These are substances that counteract the effects of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. These are produced by your body as part of normal biological oxidative processes. They also are formed due to various external factors such as UV radiation or pollution.
In both cases they can cause damage to cells and tissues, contributing to ageing and the risk of various chronic diseases and types of cancer. Antioxidants bind to the free radicals and in doing so neutralising them before they can set off a chain reaction and causing damage to the cells.
Green tea contains a cocktail of antioxidants, in particular, polyphenols and vitamin C. Polyphenols are a class of bioflavonoids and are known to have antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. The major polyphenols are catechins and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
This is where green tea gets its health halo, from calming inflammation over to reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, improving gut health, even increasing your memory and concentration.
Why is green tea so good for your skin?
First of all, what you consume eventually shows up in your skin. That’s also why you often hear how Asian mums keep preaching that you’ve got to eat a balanced and healthy diet with lots of veggies and fruits. And in terms of being rich in antioxidants, green tea fits the bill to a tee.
Now, the health benefits alone are reason enough to rush out and get some green tea, but you can also add it to your arsenal and so put your skincare on steroids.
Protect your skin against UV radiation
The same mechanism that protects your body from free radical damage also helps protect your skin from sun damage. Applying green tea to your skin can reduce inflammation and irritation caused by too much sun exposure. This is most likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Finally, it also boosts DNA repair. Or in other words, it can help repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. And so, in turn, can help protect against skin cancer.
Slows down ageing
Who hasn’t yet seen images of truck drivers with one side of the face looking much older? That’s because that side was more frequently exposed to the sun. This sun damage causing premature ageing. This is also called photo ageing and is characterised by fine lines, age spots, freckles, and sagging skin.
Of course, it’s best to avoid the sun and apply SPF daily, but that’s not always possible. Both drinking and applying green tea are important in maintaining collagen and elastin levels for a firm and youthful skin. And by protecting and repairing the skin cells, it can delay the signs of ageing and make dull skin look healthier.
Reduce inflammation, irritation, and redness
Abundant in polyphenols, these powerful antioxidants have been shown to be both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. Green tea can go a long way towards reducing skin irritation, redness, and swelling that is often caused by various skin conditions such as acne, eczema, or dandruff.
If you use tea bags, don’t throw them away. Since green tea contains caffeine, it can constrict blood vessels in your skin. You can use the tea bags to reduce the look of puffy eyes and dark circles and look wide awake.
How to incorporate green tea into your routine?
Green tea is generally safe according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. It’s also safe and well well tolerated by all skin types, even sensitive ones. So, you’ll find green tea as one of the main ingredients in many beauty and skin care products on the market.
Or if you’re up to a bit of DYI, why not whip up your own toner or a soothing face mask? The green tea toner is easy to make. Take
- 1 dl water
- 1 tea spoon green tea leaves (or one teabag)
Bring the water to boil and steep the tea leaves. After it cools down, transfer it into a bottle (it can also be a spray bottle if you prefer a mist). Store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week.
Do you also want a quick and easy face mask with green tea? Let me know in the comments.