Have you always wanted to start bringing tea into your life but don’t know where to start?
Have you wondered why everyone is saying tea is the healthiest slimming drink but don’t know how to use it correctly?
As a Chinese who grew up from a tea-drinking family and coming from a culture where everyone is so great at using tea to optimize health and beauty, I’ve been aspiring to write the most comprehensive and stellar article on how to initiate your own tea story.
And voila, here it is.
While there are so many types of tea with very different benefits and features, I’d like to mainly focus on green tea today because that is what I find the most powerful type amongst all during my day-to-day experience.
After all, it has helped me lose 50 pounds naturally.
And this article addresses 4 key questions about green tea so that you can free yourself from the excruciating “willpower game” of dieting:
How green tea can help you become healthy and slim.
4 ideas on how to smoothly start a “tea life.”
Principles on how to choose the right tea.
A few situations where drinking tea it is a taboo.
Imagine losing 2 pounds a month just from drinking green tea. Over a year, it’ll be 24 pounds, and probably 2-3 sizes down.
What difference will it make? Perhaps it’s about being seen differently by the others, becoming more confident when stepping into that chic clothing store, staying on top of life, or feeling sexier in bed.
Whatever your goal is, let’s dive in now because this will help you.
(Don’t have time to read this article now? Have a PDF version sent to you. )
Best Green Tea Tip #1: Why It Works
I think of green tea as the one stone that kills many birds when it comes to health and weight loss.
Why? Because it does many things at the same time – from killing cravings, debloating, fighting inflammation, lowering glucose level, boosting metabolism, to melting away fat.
Let me break it down for you.
1. Green tea mutes sugar cravings, immediately.
One of the best green tea techniques to learn is the “teassert” technique as a way to naturally clear your sugar cravings. If you haven’t read about it before, here is how it works:
When you eat a cookie, take a few sips of tea after every bite of it. Usually what happens is that once you’ve finished the first cookie, you’ve already lost the interest in eating more.
You may even feel the cookie “too sweet all in sudden” – just as the other reader wrote. This is how you naturally distance yourself from sugar.
The Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese have been using “teassert” as a tradition for many generations. To some people, it’s precisely about maintaining moderation with desserts (moderation is an important part of Asian values). For others, it’s just a habit that they’ve inherited from their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.
In either situation, people are well familiar with tea’s role of canceling out sweet. And modern science, using its advanced technology and research methodologies, has explained what’s happening on the biological level.
It turns out to be that the bitter tastant in bitter tasted foods – such as tea, kale, grapefruits, etc. – helps our sugar response to go down. Research has also shown that disliking bitter tasted foods implies a strong tendency for a higher BMI.
“Bitter” may sound offputting, it’s a scientific term marked by the density of bitter tastants in certain foods vs. the other. But sometimes, these bitter tastants aren’t even detectable by our taste buds – like those in oranges, which actually taste a little sour and sometimes sweet but actually belong to the “bitter” category too.
To read about the whole idea of using bitter to fight sweet, here is a comprehensive piece about it.
tea with dessert: “teassert.”
2. Green tea inhibits fat absorption.
It is no secret to most Chinese people that green tea can “de-grease the body.” What it means is that it helps the inner body maintain clean from fat and oily substances, and we learned it from the ancient medical scripts from thousands of years ago (”除烦止渴，解腻清神” — 《日用本草》).
This is why our ancestors have taught us to drink green tea after eating greasy and fatty foods. And just like the “teassert,” this practice has been carried on for many generations.
Now, the conclusion that green tea can help de-greasing our body is no longer a belief that only exists in the Asian culture. In 2011, a compelling study at Penn State University found that when obese mice on a high-fat diet ate a compound found in green tea, they gained weight 45% more slowly than those that didn’t have it. This compound is commonly known as EGCG, and it’s in most types of green tea. The mice which had green tea also had 30% more fecal lipids, and it indicated that their body didn’t absorb a significant part of the fat intake.
Besides that, there are some constructive discussions on EGCG’s deleterious effect on high-sugar, high-fat diet on the world’s highest ranked platform.
With the aid of the today’s advanced research concepts and methodologies, the micro-level reasons of the effects of this long tradition are coming to the surface.
3. Green tea clears inflammation – the primary driving force behind weight gain and many modern diseases.
Modern science tells us that if you have chronic inflammation, it’s harder for you to lose weight than it ought to be.
And here’s another bad news: while inflammation causes you to gain fat, fat can further fuel inflammation in return. The synergy between weight gain and inflammation multiplies the outcomes and forms a vicious cycle unless you can find one thing that clears both at the same time.
Green tea is a powerful thing which breaks the chain through treating both simultaneously. By beating sugar cravings, inhibiting fat absorption and boosting metabolism ( we’ll talk about it later), it melts away fat. And at the same time, it regulates inflammation.
Let me explain it further. And for this conversation, I need you to understand what inflammation is.
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injuries, stressors, and foreign invaders. It’s a good thing because without it, wounds would fester and infections would become deadly. However, it can become a severe problem if inflammation is constantly active and evolves into a chronic situation.
Being in today’s world, we are more prone to chronic inflammation than any time in history because the physical and emotional stressors, chemical pollutants, and food allergens today are unprecedentedly rampant.
What happens when we get chronic inflammation? We get sick and gain weight.
Because of this, scientists have identified inflammation to be at the heart of most diseases. Without any surprise, chronic illness like diabetics, heart diseases, and obesity are all on the list. You can visit this page for a list of inflammation caused diseases if you want to.
And how does inflammation cause weight gain in particular? In 3 major ways.
First, inflammation unlocks your food cravings.
If you are actively trying to lose weight, “leptin” is the word that you must know. Essentially, it’s the ultimate hormone which controls food satiety, and it’s the master who tells you “I’m full, stop eating now.”
Pretty important, right?
And inflammation is the major threat to it because it can mute it. With your brain’s “full” sensor being dysfunctional, you can face the outpouring of cravings at any time.
If you ever find your food cravings hard to manage, consider inflammation is a possible reason and clearing inflammation as the first step to lose weight.
Second, inflammation locks extra water in your body.
Ever notice swelling around a wounded body part? That’s what acute inflammation does in response to injuries, and once the wound recovers, swelling disappears.
Chronic inflammation, however, can make your body swell longer – for a year, 2 years, a decade, all possible. These extra body fluids make you look bigger, even if your body hasn’t gained fat.
Although it sounds frustrating, it could also mean a quick win because once inflammation is under control, you may look 10 pounds lighter instantly!
Third, it helps toxins to build up in your body and makes you fat.
Toxins aren’t calories, but they do make you fat by damaging leptin – the ultimate food satiety hormone as I mentioned earlier. How does inflammation cause your body to accumulate toxins? By impairing your digestive system and causing situations including bacterial overgrowth, ulcers, and constipation.
So now you’ve learned the 3 major ways inflammation can make you gain weight. And it would’ve been meaningless to talk about them here if we didn’t have the solution to crush it.
The answer: green tea can deflame you, thoroughly. And let me tell you a bit more here.
In order to fight inflammation, your body needs one thing: the antioxidant called polyphenols. And this is also the type of antioxidant that is found to kill cancer cells in various clinical studies. Research shows that high dosage of polyphenols in tea promotes weight loss. And according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, green tea has the highest amount of polyphenols among all types of tea because it’s made from unfermented leaves.
This means that by drinking green tea, you’ll have fewer cravings and get rid of extra body fluids naturally – with both leading to weight loss.
And here’s one thing you should do: drink green tea for a few days and monitor your experience.
Do you feel fewer cravings?
Do you go to the restroom more?
Do you feel less bloated?
Do you want less sugar (or not want it at all)?
Most people have said yes to these questions, see what the experience is like for you.
4. Green tea helps us burn more calories by increasing our metabolic rate.
A study reported in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea extract increased metabolism by 4% over 24 hours, and 3-5 cups of green tea can help you burn an extra of 70 calories a day. That’s 20 pounds of weight loss in 3 years even if you don’t do anything.
It sounds pretty awesome. However, most of us cannot measure it unless we live in a lab. Without the facilities required to measure it myself, all I could do was to dig deeper into it by conducting more research on the existing scientific literature. And I found a few NIH papers consistently reporting the similar finding.
Now you’ve learned how green tea can help us lose weight. Next, I’m going to tell you 4 ideas on how to transition into the tea lifestyle without any hassles.
Best Green Tea Tip #2. 4 Ideas for starting your “tea life.”
All you need to do are 2 things:
First, select the best green tea.
Second, have the best routine to drink it.
We’ll talk about how to select the right type of green tea in details later. For now, I’ll give you 4 ideas on how to make drinking tea as easy, natural part of life. I’m sure more will pop up while you are reading.
1. Wake your body up with a sip of green tea.
This is what I do every morning: I get up, boil water and throw some tea leaves into the cup. With an electric water boiler conveniently sitting on my countertop, it only takes 2-3 minutes for hot water to be ready. Then, I pour it into the cup, bath the tea with it for a bit and brush my teeth.
Once I’m done, I take a long sip of the tea, feel the first bit of warmth of the day, then make breakfast, and finish the remaining tea while eating.
If you ever wonder why I only take one sip of green tea before breakfast, this is because after sleeping for 7-8 hours, I desperately need hydration when I wake up. But I can’t drink green tea on an empty stomach because it might be hurt. We’ll cover more of it in Tip #4.
2. Replace coffee with tea.
I know some people would hesitate to do so. If it doesn’t fit your lifestyle (say, having a morning coffee together with your SO is an important part of your relationship), don’t do it, and you can move onto the next idea.
If you don’t mind making the switch, I’d like to tell you why it is worth it based on a lot of discussion on the pros and cons of tea and coffee.
While tea and coffee both have caffeine in them, we found that people who drink 3 cups of tea a day have a 37% lower risk of depression than those who don’t.
Meanwhile, we also found that tea leaves (Camellia Sinensis) contain L-Theanine – an amino acid that helps the brain simultaneously relax and concentrate.
You see the difference here? Tea is a balm for the troubled souls, unlike coffee, which makes your nerves jangle all day.
3. Add tea to your leisure activities.
Guess in the traditional Chinese culture, what you do first when your friend or family member visits you? Make them a cup of quality tea.
The best green tea in China costs more than gold, and it enamors tea collectors with its pure, calming aroma and taste. In ordinary families, even though people don’t have access to the cream of the crop, they still want to welcome their guests with some fine-quality tea.
There are so many ways you can incorporate tea into your leisure and entertainment activities – sipping it while watching a movie (instead of eating popcorns), reading a book, writing a journal, or chatting with someone over the phone. Meeting a friend at Starbucks? Order a hot green tea vs. the green tea frap.
4. Use tea after a meal.
Let me tell you why it’s an excellent idea.
As mentioned earlier, Chinese people, without the aid of any sophisticated statistical system, have concluded that green tea helps to “de-grease” our body.
The ancient scripts, if translated into modern Chinese language, have two levels of meaning: 1) green tea curbs the body’s absorption of grease and oil; and 2) green tea helps you slim down. The scientists today found evidence for both as we’ve talked about earlier, and because of 1), ancient Chinese already knew to drink green tea after a greasy meal, and they’ve passed down this tradition generations and generations till today.
Having green tea after a meal can not only help you curb absorption of fat but also help you get rid of the bloated feelings.
It also makes you feel much fuller because of the hydration you get.
Best Green Tea Tip #3. The Best Types Of Tea For Weight Loss
Many people have asked me this question. And I realized that in the US, not everyone has in-depth relationships with green tea. Therefore, I’ll take some time to give out the specific details that you need to find the best tea for yourself.
You might already know that “green tea” is the name of a big family of tea just like “rose” is the overarching name of a group of different sub categories – David Austin, Heirloom, Knockout, Double Knockout, Don Juan, etc., each with very different uses, needs, and characters.
The tea family has no less variety, if not more.
And let me simplify it by pointing you to a few types that are commonly brewed in Asia and widely available in the US.
These are the best green tea options that are highly accessible, and they are also pantry staples that I’ve kept for years. In addition to them, I’d like to cover another type of tea – Pu-Erh. Pu-Erh is not green tea, but due to the ways it’s processed, it has excellent slimming power because of the extremely high amount of the antioxidants it contains.
People have reported significant weight loss from drinking it. And it’s also the tea that I have in-depth personal experience with – mainly for de-bloating and deflaming my body. I first learned about the healing power of Pu-Erh when I was in China from a TCM practitioner. And the US National Institute of Health (NIH) has a whole list of papers done on it by highly reputable institutions from around the world. A simple Google search can help you find them.
Pu-erh (photo credit: The Spruce)
Besides Pu-Erh, Oolong tea is another type of tea that is reported to fight obesity by increasing metabolic rate and fat oxidation in men and women. In one study in Japan, researchers found it increased energy expenditure by 10% within the 120 minutes of consumption. In a study in China, researchers fone Oolong tea decreased body fat content and body weight by improving lipid metabolism. Meanwhile, scientists from around the world have found evidence in other health effects of Oolong tea, including fighting inflammation, which will directly help with weight loss.
Studies with the similar, consistent findings are piling in the world’s most prestigious science databases and are firmly pointing us to one direction. However, I haven’t drunk much Oolong tea in my life due to my personal tea preferences, and I can’t tell you from my own experience what it’s like to lose weight on Oolong. Therefore, I’ll leave it to you as a potential room for exploration. -:)
Above are some examples of tea which are well-known for their soothing, calming, and slimming effects.
When you buy tea on the market, you’ll notice that there are two main types of them:
tea bags and loose tea leaves – which is better?
loose leaf tea
The common knowledge is that the best green tea usually comes in the form of loose leaves. And tea bags are made from low-quality tea leaves in general, such as dust and fannings. In China, regular tea bags are usually priced half compared to low-grade tea leaves. But there are exceptions. I heard that some of the best green tea (mostly Japanese) naturally breaks down while being processed. Growing up in China, this is quite new to me, and this is when an open mind becomes helpful.
Some people asked me: how do you drink loose leaf tea without accidentally eating the leaves?
There’s no downside to eating a few tea leaves. 🙂
But you can avoid it.
When you pour hot water into your teacup, some tea leaves will float. After a few minutes, you’ll see most of them sinking to the bottom. If you can’t wait to have it (caution hot!), just blow the leaves away and sip.
photo credit: hightea.com
Or, you can get a loose leaf tea strainer. It works just like the tea bags and prevents leaves from getting everywhere.
green tea strainer
You can use the same tea leaves 3 times just by pouring hot water into the cup. There’s also a 3-hour rule, meaning don’t drink the same tea after 3 hours have passed.
Some people asked: how about some common branded green tea like Tazo Zen?
First, are they tea bags or loose leaf tea? and is it clear what type of green tea it is on the label?
Second, some tea bags and boxes can include a mixture of tea and other ingredients. Although these ingredients are natural, it loses purity, which is an essential part of tea’s merits by Asian values.
Also, how do you know you are drinking the best green tea if you can’t get its full taste?
But even though tea bags aren’t ideal, it can still serve as a buffering zone to get you started on the lifelong healthy habit of drinking green tea.
What about green tea extract? I don’t know. Without being able to see the tea leaves, it’s tough to evaluate its quality just by reading the label.
So where should you get the best green tea?
I sometimes buy tea when I travel to Asia. And I also go to online tea shops to get them to get loose leaf tea. There are some great online stores you can explore for building your tea collection, Republic of Tea is one of them.
Best Green Tea Tip #4. When You Should NOT Drink It
“Tea is so amazing, and I’ll have 20 cups a day every day.”
Regardless all the benefits it brings, even the best green tea has its taboos, and there are times when you shouldn’t even drink it.
Let me give you a roundup of its major restrictions.
1. Do not drink green tea on an empty stomach.
Chinese and Japanese know not to drink green tea on an empty stomach because it can be hurt. I’m not sure what’s the reason behind this rule because ancient scripts didn’t say anything more. But during the modern days, scientists have found that green tea release more stomach acid, which promotes digestion. When you don’t have any food in your stomach, it causes stressed stomach and heartburn.
Besides that, scientists also found that when you drink green tea on an empty stomach, your liver can be hurt too.
2. Drink green tea with moderation and caution when you have liver diseases due to the last point in 1.
3. Do not drink green tea when you have sleeping problems.
Green tea is probably the least caffeinated tea among all types of tea. It only contains about 50% caffeine in black tea, and while one cup of coffee usually contains 100-200mg of caffeine (depending on the type), the same amount of green tea only contains 35mg.
The caffeine contained in green tea, even though far less than coffee, can still keep you awake at night. A general rule I have is to stop drinking it by 4 pm.
4. Do not over-drink green tea when you have hair loss.
Studies have shown that caffeine is a major contributing factor for hair loss. It means over-drinking green tea might cause that issue.
5. Do not over-drink green tea when you are pregnant.
Avoiding green tea is a rule of thumb for every pregnant woman in China to follow from ancient time till today. The TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) scripts explain that tea, because of its cooling impact, can break the balance and harmony required within the female body to nurture an embryo.
From the western perspective, the tannic acids, catechin, and caffeine contained in green tea can lead to pregnancy risks. Different from the oriental culture, it’s considered acceptable to have a small amount of green tea (1-2 cups/day) during pregnancy.
6. Do not drink green tea when you have iron deficiency.
A study shows that green tea consumption may cause the malabsorption of non-hem iron which you find in vegetables and grains. Therefore, if you maintain a plant-based diet and have iron deficiency, you should drink green tea moderately.
These are a few things to remember when you consider whether or not you want to add green tea to your daily diet. I’ve covered the major downsides here. If you’d like to know more, here is a complete list with more.
How many cups of tea should you drink a day with none of the constraints above?
I usually have 3-4 on a good day and no more than 5.
Congratulations! You’ve learned the best green tea tips for natural weight loss and are ready to experiment them. If you have any questions, email me at leslie[at]riselean.com.