Green Tea, Health  |  12.23.2022  |  By A Broadway

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. 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.

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 [2]. An important characteristic of TCM is that it focuses on disease prevention before it manifests [1]. However, it is used to treat and diagnose illnesses as well. 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.

How was Green Tea used in Ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine?

For the past 25 years, green tea has been studied for its beneficial health effects. 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 [3]. During the Tang Dynasty, tea was considered a medicine. Due to the heavy influence China had on Japan at the time, green tea was also used primarily as medicine in Japan before the immersion 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, green tea was also used as a remedy for chest infections, and fevers, boosting mental clarity and promoting good heart, kidney, and liver health.

In Japanese Culture, How is Green Tea used in Medicine and Health?

Because green tea was introduced to Japan by Japanese monks studying Buddhism abroad in China, many of the same medicinal uses were also carried over and practiced in Japan. 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, green tea and its health benefits continued to be valued and enjoyed. In Japanese culture, it is a staple and is enjoyed regularly throughout the day. 

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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. If you are interested in learning more about tea, our tea blog will give you a head start in the world of tea!


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[1] Yang et. al (2020). Recent scientific studies of traditional Chinese medicine, tea, on prevention of chronic diseases. J Tradit Complement Med. 4(1):17-23. from https://doi.org/10.4103/2225-4110.124326
[2] Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. from https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/treatment/traditional-chinese-medicine
[3] Chacko et al (2010). Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review. Chin Med 5, 13 from https://doi.org/10.1186/1749-8546-5-13

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