Green tea is tea made from the leaves of the tea plant in their raw, natural state, rather than withered and oxidised as they are in black tea. The history of tea is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it's known that it was consumed in China at least 5000 years ago.
Over the last several decades, green tea has become more and more popular in the western world as its many health benefits have been discovered.
A cup of green tea contains negligible nutrition, but it is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, which can help to fight the cell damage caused by free radicals. It also contains caffeine, a known stimulant.
One of the antioxidants found in green tea is the catechin EGCG, which has been much studied for its medicinal properties. EGCG is thought to play a role in the prevention of neurodegenerative conditions, and in cardiovascular health too. It may also act as a blood thinner.
The catechins in green tea have been studied for their effects on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, with promising results. The same catechins have been shown to kill bacteria and to have potent antiviral effects.
A Japanese study has shown that green tea can help to lower the risk of developing diabetes, and it is also thought to help reduce abdominal fat, although the mechanism for this isn't clear.