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Green tea, black tea and white tea are all produced from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, the common tea plant. There are, of course, different varieties that will attribute to the differences in taste and strength.  Two varieties are recognised, the Camellia sinensis which is commonly known as Chinese tea and C. sinensis var. assamica which is known as Assam tea, Indian tea. It is an evergreen shrub native to locations in India, Vietnam and China which can grow to heights of 17metres. The leaves are a distinct bright and shiny green with a hairy underside. The flowers are a creamy white with a light scent and grow in clusters of two or four. The fruits of the tea plant are a brownish-green can contain up to four seeds.  The Chinese variety of this plant (Camellia sinensis) is considered to be slightly more ‘hardy’ and its leaves are generally smaller and more narrow. It is primarily this variety that is used to produce Green tea from. It is thought that wild varieties of the tea plant no longer exist due to the excessive level of cultivation for consumption.
Green tea contains a number of very special compounds. L-Theanine is an amino acid that works synergistically with other compounds present in the plant such as caffeine to increase serotonin, dopamine and gamma-Aminobutyric acid in the brain, all of which significantly 
boost mood.
EGCG (epi-gallo-catechin-gallate) is a polyphenol with powerful anti-oxidant properties and is a tonic and protective to the vascular system. It is these properties that are responsible for the health benefits often attributed to green teas. Particularly, risks associated with cardiovascular disease. This group of polyphenols demonstrate the ability to trap free radicals, delay lipid peroxidation, prevent degradation of connective tissue structures and reduce atherosclerosis and the build-up of cholesterol by reducing serum cholesterol, triglycerides and high density lipoproteins.

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Dorothy Prats

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