Last week, we talked about how green tea can help you with weight loss. Supplement companies have tried to take the process one step further by creating different kinds of “green tea extracts”. These are concentrated forms of green tea that are said to deliver far more catechins than a standard cup of green tea.
However, are these supplements effective and is there an advantage to them that exceeds just drinking green tea? Let’s take a closer look at this.
Types of extracts
There are four main methods that green tea extract manufacturers use in their green tea extract products:
- Strong infusion: The leaves are soaked in an alcohol solution to draw out the catechins then processed to remove the alcohol. This does bring out more catechins than a standard cup, but the taste is bitter.
- Soft extracts: Soft extracts take a strong infusion and concentrate it further. These have roughly 10-12x more catechins per dose compared to a similarly sized dose of strong infusion.
- Dry extracts: These start with a strong infusion with a lot of tea leaf powder. Once the infusion is complete the solution is processed into a powder. This powder is then put into different forms for sale.
- Partly purified extracts: These take one of the above techniques and use advanced chemistry to isolate and purify the active components in green tea.
The problems with green tea extracts
Why would people want to turn to an extract rather than just drinking green tea? There are a few reasons. They may just not like the taste of green tea or want to drink as much green tea as they need to get the same sort of impact as the extracts claim. There’s also a mentality that concentrated versions of healthy natural products are better in the supplement field.
However, there are several drawbacks to taking extracts. First, extracts are processed with various chemicals, which may have an adverse effect on both the health benefits and on the bodies of certain people. Second, some extracts don’t have the concentrations necessary to really cause a shift in health. Finally, by replacing a warm cup of tea with a pill, these people are removing one of the major pleasures of taking green tea for health.
If you choose to take a green tea extract, look for one with a polyphenol content of 90% or higher. This will signify that these extracts are significantly concentrated and purified. However, these varieties are likely to be more expensive. Cheaper green tea extracts won’t have enough compounds to make it worth your while, and may be adulterated with other ingredients for processing.
Why drinking tea is better
The healthy components of green tea aren’t just limited to catechins. There are many other compounds as well that are extracted by water infusion at the proper temperature (around 175 degrees Fahrenheit). By preparing tea in the traditional way, you can take advantage of these additional compounds, such as polyphenols.
You also know exactly what is going into your body. Simply green tea. There’s no worry about the additives in an extract causing an adverse reaction in the body. Green tea is very gentle on the body. Nearly everyone can drink a high quantity of tea without any problems.
Finally, drinking warm tea is quite enjoyable for many people around the world. Why try to remove this experience from your life? If you’ve tried one of our teas, you’ll discover that drinking tea regularly might be a good habit to get into just for the flavor.
In the end, yes, there are some extracts that are sufficiently purified enough to be safe and have a positive effect on health. Is it worth giving up drinking normal green tea though? We don’t think so.