Brewed Green Tea in a white ceramic cup with white teapot beside
Health | | S. Tasaki

Green Tea and its Uses in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Green tea hasn’t always been just for drinking for enjoyment. It has a vast history of many uses. Made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, green tea has not only been a popular beverage to drink beginning in the Tang and Song dynasties but it traditionally has also been used as medicine in China, Japan, and other parts of Eastern Asia for thousands of years for its health benefits. Historically, green tea’s usage dates back to 2737 B.C.

In this article, we will be discussing green tea and its uses in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The information presented in this article is in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical treatment. You should always consult with your physician or other health care professional before adopting any treatment for a health problem.

kyusu teapot pouring green tea into cup health benefits medicinal uses

What is Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM)?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or Eastern Medicine is an alternative practice of medicine that draws from traditional medicine in China. The practices date back to 200 BCE and have been culturally persistent in Asia for many centuries. An important characteristic of TCM is that it focuses on disease prevention before it manifests. However, it also treats and diagnose illnesses.

The goal and belief of practicing TCM are to balance the yin and yang energy within the body and promote the body's own healing mechanisms using various techniques such as acupuncture, nutrition, exercise, massage, and herbal medicine. By regulating the body's qi, or life energy, it was believed that good balance and flow aided in promoting longevity and wellness.


ancestral image of the first recorded use of tea in traditional chinese medicine herbal remedies for its medicinal uses and health benefits

How did Ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine use Green Tea?

For the past 25 years, green tea has been studied for its medicinal uses. Nowadays, we know green tea's health benefits include the ability to alleviate diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, and prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancers. It also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and neuroprotective properties. During the Tang Dynasty, tea was considered a medicine.

China's heavy influence on Japan at the time led to the primary use of green tea as medicine in Japan before the emergence of tea ceremonies. The following quote is from the classic text, the Cha Jing (meaning The Classic of Tea or Tea Classic) by Lu Yu, which describes what tea was known as.

 “...bitter and sweet, slightly cold and with no toxicity. It has the functions of pushing down the perverse rising qi; eliminating thirst, heat and phlegm; diuretic, shortening of sleeping time...”[1]. 

Therefore, people also used green tea as a remedy for chest infections, and fevers, as well as to boos mental clarity and promote good heart, kidney, and liver health.

 green tea in a teacup used for its medicinal uses and health benefits

How does Japanese Culture use Green Tea in Medicine and Health?

Because Japanese monks studying Buddhism abroad in China introduced green tea to Japan, they also carried over and practiced many of the same medicinal uses. For example, after meals, people would use green tea to clean and wash their mouths. The Cha Jing text also stated that green tea has cooling properties helping to improve alertness, immunity, mood, and clear toxins from the body. Nowadays, people continue to value and enjoy green tea and its health benefits.

In Japanese culture, people consider it a staple and enjoy it regularly throughout the day. Maybe you drink tea daily, or maybe you are looking for ways how tea can benefit your diet. Either way, there is no doubt at all that green tea is healthy. For thousands of years, humans have used tea as a drink of enjoyment, but also as medicine.

Throughout history, we have seen the health benefits of green tea, but nowadays through modern science, we certainly know the great health benefits of drinking green tea. 


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