Can Green Tea Keep You Warm from the Inside Out?

Local functional nutrition expert Andrea Nakayama gives us the scoop on green tea's lesser known health benefits—and a recipe for her chai matcha latte.

By Allison Jones January 13, 2015

Image: Stasis Photo

You've likely heard that green tea is good for your health, but you may not know how or why green tea can give you a wellness boost. We asked functional nutrition expert Andrea Nakayama, founder of ReplenishPDX to unpack the benefits of green tea and inspire you to get that kettle boiling.

GREEN TEA & YOUR METABOLISM Green tea has thermogenic properties, meaning it helps to produce some heat in your body to burn fat and keep you warm, which is so important in winter weather. The antioxidants in green tea have been found to extend the release of the neurochemical neurepinephrine in the bloodstream and keep it circulating for longer than any other caffeine-containing source. More neurepinephrine circulation (say that three times!), means more fat burning potential. Bring it on!

GREEN TEA'S ANTIOXIDANT POWER Green tea's powers come from polyphenols that provide antioxidants to neutralize free radicals in your body.

Inside your body you're constantly manufacturing unstable molecules. It's these unstable molecules that lead to internal inflammation and cancer growth. Those unstable molecules are called free radicals, and they cause harm to other cells in your body. Antioxidants, like those in your green tea, cruise through your body, looking for those free radicals. The antioxidants can not only annul the free radicals, but may even lend some repair to the damage they've already caused. Scavenge away!

GREEN TEA & YOUR BRAIN One of Nakayama's favorite forms of green tea is matcha green tea, which comes in a fine powder made from baby tea leaves. The young green tea leaves, which include those used for making matcha powder, as well as those in the Dragon's Well tea, contain one of your most "zen" amino acids, L-theanine. It stimulates the same alpha waves you activate during meditation! L-theanine creates a sense of relaxation and calm about 30 minutes after ingestion. These effects can help counter the jitters that many experience when consuming caffeine. At the same time, those great antioxidants (which are called EGCG by the way), help protect brain cells, keeping them alive and alert and in less danger of cell death.

Make it! Chai Matcha Latte

According to Nakayama, this recipe incorporates "the beauty of green tea with a host of other cancer-fighting, immune-boosting, hormone-balancing spices."

  • 2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (Nakayama prefers Native Forest brand full-fat) or almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 6 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • one 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups just-boiling water
  • 2 dashes ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch allspice
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 8-10 drops liquid stevia (plain or vanilla) or 1 teaspoons raw honey
  1. Place the whole herbs (cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon stick), in a jar or glass measuring cup. Pour just-boiling water over the herbs and let it steep for a minimum of five minutes and up to overnight. (I like the latter steeping time as it allows the flavor of the herbs to truly come through.)
  2. Pour milk of your choice into a mini blender like a Nutribullet or into another glass jar or measuring cup where you can whisk the ingredients together. Add the matcha green tea powder, ground cinnamon, allspice and sea salt and blend or whisk until well combined.
  3. Pour the steeped water through a strainer and into the matcha-milk slurry. Add stevia or raw honey. Blend or whisk again. Taste for desired sweetness.
  4. If you'd like your latte hotter, pour ingredients into a small pot and gently heat before drinking to your health!
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