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The History of Korean Green Tea
During the Silla Dynasty tea was often used as a medicine. First the leaves would be steamed and then pounded into the shape of a coin. This compressed form would be boiled for a long time in a medicine pot before being drunk. In Koryo, powered tea was drunk in a large bowl. During the Yi period the drinking of simple green leaf was introduced. In this way one can observe a progression from complexity to simplicity in the preparation and the drinking of tea. The style of pottery in Korea also changed according to the ways in which tea was prepared and drunk. Thus, both in China and Korea, tea was first developed as a medicine and only later adopted for the pleasure of drinking it. After the Yi period, an interest in drinking tea also revived.
The word for green leaf tea in Korean is Chaksol. This literally means ‘bird’s tongue’. It is so-called because the first leaves of the tea resemble the shape of a bird’s tongue.
To determine whether the tea is a good one or not, one should examine its colour, scent and taste. The perfect colour is like that of the first leaves in spring. The taste cannot be described but only appreciated through experience. Tea is drunk either to quench the thirst, savour the taste or simply to spend a quiet hour appreciating the pottery and the general atmosphere that accompanies tea drinking.
The first mention of tea in Korean texts is found in a record which speaks of a small kingdom called Garak, which existed before the time of the three kingdoms of Koguryo, Paekche and Silla. It is claims that the first king of this country married an Indian princess who brought buddhist scriptures, images and tea with her from India. However, this account is usually discounted as legendary. At the time of Unified Silla, an envoy called Kim Taeryom was sent to Tang China. He returned with tea seeds which he then planted in the south of the country on Mount Chiri, near Sanggyesa monastery. An eighth century Chinese record written by an ‘immortal of tea’ mentions the use of tea in Korea. The author claimed that although the best tea was found in his home province in China, the next best was grown in Silla and Paekche and the third best in Koguryo. In Unified Silla tea was used as an offering both to the Buddha as well as social occasions. At this time there were special tea houses with the character for tea inscribed on the tiles of the roof. Inside would be an image of the Buddha around which the aristocrats would sit and drink tea.
In Koryo tea was drunk by the common people as well as the aristocrats. Only the smaller leaves would be used to make tea. During this time the king would be formally offered tea every morning before receiving his audiences. At the beginning of each year the king would symbolically tend to the tea plants in the fields to set an example to the populace. The people would make daily tea offerings to the king, their ancestors and the Buddha. Continuing on into the 21st century, we see the current annual consumption of cultivation and consumption of green tea continuing to increase worldwide.
What is the Difference between Green and Black Tea?
Black teas get their characteristic flavour and colour from a natural oxidation process, which follows initial drying and rolling of the leaves after they have been picked.
Green tea is made from unoxidized leaves which are simply heated after picking to destroy the enzymes that cause oxidation. They are then rolled to release their flavour. Green teas are sweet and contain many of the vitamins and antioxidant properties of the fresh green tea leaf, making them highly regarded as a healthy, fragrant and delicious drink.
Tea pot and tea cups filled with green tea. A tea leaf scoop with tea leaves.The health benefits of green tea are primarily due to its antioxidant properties that come from its caffeine, Catechin Polyphenols and Thianine content. The major health benefits stemming from antioxidant effects are listed below.
The free radicals created in the body are responsible for corroding the body in various ways, one of which we see as the signs of aging and the related symptoms. The main job of antioxidants is to neutralize the oxidants or free radicals present in the body and green tea is very rich in antioxidants. The Catechin Polyphenols present in green tea are hugely responsible for the antioxidizing effects, the most powerful among them being the Epigallocatechin Gallate. Therefore, regular consumption of green tea can effectively delay the signs and symptoms of aging.
One of the primary reasons for the popularity and consumption of all kinds of tea by human civilizations is its stimulating effect. This effect, again, is due to the Caffeine and Tannins present within the tea leaves. Caffeine & Tannins, despite their potentially adverse effects on health in the long run, act as very powerful stimulants. That is why a cup of tea makes you feel fresh and highly energized. Tea is an easy and ideal solution to counter fatigue, laziness, sleepiness and lack of energy, and to improve blood circulation. This is why it is so popular with a wide variety of people in various industries, including professionals, housewives, students, and anyone else who has ever felt a bit drowsy during the day!
Research shows that people who regularly drink green tea do not fall victim to common bacterial and viral infections as easily as those who do not add green tea to their diet. The message is clear. Green Tea boosts the strength of the immune system. The Catechins present in green tea prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching themselves to cell walls to infect them. These Catechins also counter the toxins released by microbes. This antimicrobial property also protects you from bad breath, dysentery, diarrhoea, tooth decay, indigestion, flu, cough & cold, and colitis, all of which are caused, in some way, by microbial & fungal action.
This is yet another powerful benefit of green tea. Astringent substances trigger contractions in muscles and tissues, while toning up muscles and skin. Even if you do not wish to drink green tea, a simple, daily mouthwash with green tea can cause sufficient contraction in your gums to keep them firm and tight on the teeth, thus preventing loosening and loss of teeth. You can also wash your hair with green tea and feel it grow stronger and healthier every day.
Apart from causing premature aging, free radicals are also responsible for causing certain types of cancer. The Catechins present in green tea neutralize these free radicals, prevent formation of carcinogens like nitrosamines and reduce the risk of cancer for people who regularly consume green tea. Green tea is now being clinically used and prescribed as a home remedy to aid in the prevention of cancer, particularly for those patients at high risk for cancer in the colon, rectum, pancreas and intestines.
Green tea has been shown to be effective in reducing cholesterol levels to some extent, probably due to its alkalinity.
Cardiac & Arterial Health: Certain components in green tea prevent thickening of the blood, thereby reducing chances of Arterial Sclerosis, Thrombosis, as well as Cardiac and Cerebral Strokes.
Anti-diabetic: If not taken with sugar, the alkaline nature of green tea helps to reduce the blood glucose level. Moreover, the antioxidant and astringent qualities of green tea ensure good health and better functioning of the pancreas. Improving the function of the pancreas means a more efficient and regulated secretion of insulin and the subsequent improvement in decomposing and absorbing of sugar. This increase in effective functions can help prevent the onset of diabetes.
Believe it or not, but green tea also helps people lose weight by enhancing the rate of metabolism, thereby promoting a faster consumption of the fat storage of the body. Recently, green tea has replaced many other beverages in the western world as its helps in weight loss, and obesity is still a chronic problem in many places. Drink a cup or two of green tea every morning and you are bound to lose a few pounds of excess weight over a week or so.
Stamina & Endurance Booster:
You can prove this quality to yourself quite easily. Just have a cup of hot green tea after some rigorous exercise and within no time, you will be ready for a few more sets. Furthermore, it effectively counters muscular pain due to overexertion of muscles. Although green tea isn’t as widely publicized for western athletes due to the dominant energy drink companies in the market, if you visit Japan & China, you will see that green tea is the premiere beverage used by practitioners of martial arts and various other sports.
Green tea is the best cure for particularly savage hangovers and fatigue caused by the consumption of alcoholic beverages and lack of sleep due to late night parties. Start your hangover with a large cup of green tea with lemon, and the hangover will quickly fade to a bad memory. Green tea with lemon juice is a very good and popular remedy to eliminate the exhausting effects of alcohol almost instantly
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