It’s green so it must be better for you, right?
Wellness has a bit of an obsession with green things, and with pretty colours in general. We have beetroot lattes, turmeric lattes, taro lattes, and matcha lattes. A beige coffee is now considered to be just that: beige. But because it’s not cool to admit we like it for the pretty colours, we have to attach some compelling health claims to these things. Of these, green tea is definitely the one with the biggest PR team.
All types of tea come from the same plant, the teas are simply produced by different methods. Green tea is claimed to be better because it contains more antioxidants. As we’ve seen before, having more antioxidants doesn’t necessarily translate into better for you.
On top of all that, we’re seeing the continuing rise of matcha, supposedly even better than your standard green tea (because obviously wellness had to turn something many people drink into something more expensive and exclusive).
Let’s analyse some of the claims around green tea…
The antioxidants in green tea are claimed to boost your metabolism, so increasing fat burning and making you lose weight. There is some evidence to suggest, yes, it does increase your metabolism slightly. Green tea extract is a popular weight-loss supplement. I could go on another lengthy rant about how fucked up the diet industry is but I’ll keep it brief: the diet industry is not interested in giving you long-term weight loss. If that was the result they would go out of business. It’s in their interest to keep you constantly trying new miracle methods, and for them all to work temporarily or not at all. So it should come as no surprise that green tea extracts don’t lead to long-term weight loss. Same goes for just drinking the stuff.
The reason this occurs despite the so-called “fat burning” (ugh) effects is because the food you eat only has a small effect on your overall metabolism, especially in comparison to exercise or just your standard daily movement.
If you have high blood pressure, green tea may help. But it’s not certain whether this slight reduction actually has clinical effects in terms of reducing heart attacks and so on. If your blood pressure is normal it’s not really going to do anything for you.
There’s some limited evidence to suggest green tea can help lower cholesterol, but again it’s not certain if it’s enough to have clinical significance, and how much you’d have to drink to get this effect.
Should You Drink It?
The exact same applies to matcha as well as standard green tea. While putting matcha in cakes or bread is fine – if you want green baked goods – it’s not going to have the same effect as drinking it straight. Neither green cake or green tea is going to cure cancer though.
To be honest, if you’re drinking it purely because it’s “good for you” and not because you like it, that’s not a good enough reason. Bottom line is this: if you like it then great, feel free to keep drinking it, it’s not going to do you any harm. But if you’re not a fan of the taste (like me) that’s just fine, you don’t NEED it in order to be healthy. There’s no point spending crazy money (matcha is seriously fucking expensive) on something you don’t even like, just to be in with the ‘wellness’ crowd. It’s not worth it.