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Brain Food: Ancient Secrets of Green Tea in the Modern Age

This entry is part of a series, Brain Food»

Tea Pot

For more than 4,000 years, the Chinese have been enjoying green tea. As with many human discoveries, this one was apparently a happy accident. Shen Nong was boiling a pot of water and some leaves drifted in. This was in the year 2,737 B.C. The plant was Camellia sinensis, or the tea plant as we know it today.

It tasted good, and the brew (and the leaves) found a place on the Chinese table, and in their medicine cabinets, ever after.

You should consider adding this healthy drink to your diet too.

First off, this magical brew can help you lose weight. Oh, it’s not going help you win the Greatest Loser, but it does have a thermogenic effect due to the caffeine and theanine. And the catechin polyphenols are great antioxidants, helping to protect a variety of biologicals inside you.

Green Tea

It’s those antioxidants that are a big piece of the value of green tea to the brain. (Caffeine is the other; more on that in a later post.) A couple of cups a day helps prevent memory degradation in elderly folks. For the rest of us, green tea can produce sharper memory. Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong Foundation recommends green tea too.

So, you’re now convinced green tea is the answer for you. But drinking the same ol’ thing, over and over, is boring. BOoooring! What to do, what to do; how can you have your green tea without simply drinking it?

When I was in Taiwan my hosts regularly took me to tea houses. The first time, I was convinced it was to have a quick cuppa green and then go out and about Taipei for some more sightseeing. I wanted to see the ritual tea service as well, so I was ready, I thought.

Boy, was I wrong!

Green Tea With Mint

Those places had all kinds of food, all containing green tea. Besides the expected wall of tea bins, where you could choose a baggie to take home and enjoy later, there were sweets and appetizers, noodle dishes, rice and more. Some dishes, you could really sense the tea flavor and aroma. Others, it was too subtle for my poor ol’ palate. Still, these experiences showed me that green tea isn’t just for grandma’s afternoon break anymore.

Tasty, and so good for you.

Here’s a way to prove it for yourself. Cook up a cup of rice the way you usually do, and then top it with two tablespoons each of thinly sliced green onion, minced bell pepper (any color) and green tea leaves. Serve with your favorite stir-fry or zesty curry (my choice!) and you’ll never go back to boring white rice again…

Enjoy the (Healthy Chinese Drink) Heat!

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