Nothing says springtime like green tea, according to Smith head teamaker Ravi Kroesen. “It really captures the essence of spring,” he muses. “If you drink green tea at its freshest point, it’s like drinking spring in a cup.”
That’s because the optimum time to harvest green tea is in the spring—so naturally, that’s the season when Kroesen and Smith’s tea buyers scoop up those light-colored leaves. The result is a series of tantalizing, high-quality teas—from Spring Greens, to Jasmine Silver Tip, to Rose City Genmaicha—imbued with rich, buttery, floral notes.
Another advantage to purchasing green tea in its peak state is that, at its freshest, green tea contains a staggering number of antioxidants, amino acids and other compounds that deliver a wealth of health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the ways top-tier green teas might enhance heart, brain and oral health when sipped regularly.
Plentiful in green tea and long buzzed about in nutrition circles, antioxidants are food-derived compounds that are believed to protect cells from damage. Green tea boasts particularly high levels of catechins—a natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that catechins might help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and increase blood flow. What’s more, frequent consumption of high-quality green tea may be associated with a reduced risk of stroke.
Antioxidants aren’t green tea’s only nutritional asset. The refreshing and rejuvenating brew also contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which boosts the production of alpha brain waves and dopamine. That means sipping green tea may enhance mental agility, focus, and cognition—and support relaxation. It was that combination of effects that first attracted Kroesen to the beverage many years ago. “I found that green tea could keep my energy level high while [helping me stay] calm and clear-headed throughout the day,” he recalls. When paired with caffeine, L-theanine also appears to improve memory, according to multiple studies.
Many people swear that drinking green tea daily has helped them stave off cavities and other periodontal issues—and research seems to support those claims. A 2016 study indicated that green tea may have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, thereby limiting the effects of tooth and gum disease. It is believed to neutralize odors, too—so a cup of green tea could combat bad breath. And because it’s packed with catechins, it may reduce oral inflammation, such as gingivitis and prevent bone decay.
THAT’S NOT ALL
In a few studies, green tea has been shown to boost metabolism, although it’s unclear by how much. Still, because it delivers sustained energy and promotes focus, it could help motivate people to exercise. Meanwhile, green tea’s anti-inflammatory characteristics might help relieve certain arthritis symptoms and those suffering from diabetes may benefit from the cardiovascular support it provides.
MAKE THE MOST OF IT
To experience green tea at its tastiest and most potent, Kroesen recommends heating water to approximately 185° F (a cooler temperature than a typical kettle boil), and steeping for three minutes. “When people say they don’t like green tea because it’s too bitter, that’s often the result of over-steeping,” he explains. Follow that advice while brewing one of Smith’s uncommonly smooth, balanced green teas, and even skeptics might just discover a new favorite elixir—and reap green tea’s health benefits in the process.