In the past there wasn't much tea available except Lipton tea in a teabag. Things have changed, and now there is good quality green and black tea available in most supermarkets. The health benefits of drinking tea have been in the news, and the green tea diet was discussed on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Tea plantThe health benefits of drinking green and black tea have been known for a long time in Japan and China, where coffee was only introduced much more recently. Green, black, and oolong teas all come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The plant is the same but what makes each tea different is the way it is processed after harvest. Black teas are fermented, green teas are lightly steamed. The finished green tea can be brewed for drinking or extracted for capsules.

One key component in green tea is epigallocatechin gallete, also known simply as catechin, or EGCG. This is an antioxidant that has been used for improving mental alertness, lowering cholesterol levels, aiding in weight loss, protecting the skin from sun damage, and even for some forms of cancer. While it is know that tea makes you more alert, the other uses have not yet been conclusively proven scientifically.

The American Journal of Clinical study investigated weight loss with green tea extract and concluded, "

Green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se. The green tea extract may play a role in the control of body composition via sympathetic activation of thermogenesis, fat oxidation, or both."

While studies on a green tea diet may be unconvincing, we do know for sure that green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants. These are compounds that fight disease and assist in the prevention of a number of illnesses and conditions. Green tea has the highest concentration of plyphenols, antioxidants that help rid the body of free radicals. Free radicals have been linked to some cancers, heart disease, and some degenerative conditions. Polyphenols neutralize dangerous free radicals and stop them from harming the body's cells.

Green tea has about a third of the caffeine of coffee. To make a cup of tea, use about one teaspoon of dried green tea leaves to six ounces of boiled water. Brew for 2 or 3 mintes; longer brewing makes the tea stronger and more bitter. A cup of tea normally contains 50 to 150 mg of polyphenols.

Consult your doctor before embarking on a green tea diet. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not drink green tea or take green tea extracts. People with anxiety disorders, kidney problems, stomach ulcers, or heart problems, may want to avoid green tea. You should also be aware of drug interactions with green tea, especially with some antibiotics, blood thinners, oral contraceptives, aspirin, lithium, or beta-blockers. Green tea has been show to help with weight loss, but there really no green tea diet that will automatically make you lose weight.