Would you be surprised if I tell you even toddlers drink green tea in Japan? I have been asked, ‘Is it OK to give green tea to my teenage kids?’ That question surprised me since I’ve grown up in a culture where green tea is given even to babies, although the kind of green tea would be a diluted Hojicha (ho-jee-cha), roasted green tea, which offers naturally less caffeine.
Kids turn on water faucet to get green tea in Japan
Green tea is a drink for all ages in Japan. Some grade schools have ‘water faucets that pour green tea!’ Watch this video—happy kids are enjoying abundant green tea.
I can hear some folks who watch green tea poured down into sink frown and say, “It’s wasting green tea!” I have to say these schools are located in Shizuoka, Japan, where green tea is produced on a big scale. And there is abundant green tea for schools to buy cheaply. Because green tea is anti-viral and anti-bacterial, kids get benefits from hand washing, mouth rinsing, and gargling with green tea.
School lunches offer green tea dishes
Furthermore, green tea is used in the lunches that schools provide kids every day. If these pictures look appetizing to you, find green tea recipes on our website.
Is green tea safe for kids?
The question must be associated with caffeine, which naturally exists in green tea. Caffeine in an 8oz green tea depends on how you make it, but it would be no more than 40mg if you are making green tea in a palatable proportion. Shade-grown green tea, such as high grade Matcha and Gyokuro (g-yo-koo-ro) covered in shade for a longer time period, would offer more—70mg in an 8 oz tea. SEI MEE TEA’s ‘regular’ Sencha powder tea offers 10mg caffeine in one cup. There is about 100mg of caffeine in a normal cup of coffee. Caffeine amount in the beverages popular among young people are: Mountain Dew 54 mg/12 oz, Coke 34m /12 oz, Dr. Pepper 41mg/12oz, Monster Energy Drink 160mg/16 oz. Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar 1.45oz has 20mg caffeine. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children under the age of 12 years should not eat or drink any caffeine-containing foods or drinks. (That means no chocolate of any form for children?!) For children older than 12 years, caffeine intake should be no more than 85 to 100 milligrams per day.
Caffeine, L-theanine and EGCG in Green Tea work together
Why do Japanese schools offer green tea and green tea foods at schools? The key may be the other substances that exist naturally in green tea. There is a study that researched the synergetic effects of L-theanine, caffeine, and EGCG—the most prominent antioxidant found in Green Tea—25 times more powerful than Vitamin E and 100 times more powerful than Vitamin C. This report concluded: “This study highlights the importance of the synergism between tea components for the beneficial effects usually attributed to this beverage.” Let’s review the green tea benefits students would enjoy.
Caffeine and L-theanine create “Calm Alertness”
L-theanine, a natural relaxant found almost exclusively in green tea, counteracts caffeine—it does not “cancel out” the caffeine effect. L-theanine mitigates the undesirable aspects of caffeine—jitters, tension, and agitation. L-theanine in combination with Caffeine generates “Calm Alertness” with First, you are relaxed yet alert at the same time. Second, the energy you get doesn’t give you energy hype and crash; instead, you get steady energy. Do you think active youngsters could use this benefit? Energized but not hyped—that sounds like a great way to be in a classroom.
Green tea reduces anxiety and increases attention
Speaking of classroom environments, there are many studies on the relationship between green tea and cognitive abilities in humans. “Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review” assessed the previous studies and concluded as follows: “The reviewed studies presented evidence that green tea influences psychopathological symptoms (e.g. reduction of anxiety), cognition (e.g. benefits in memory and attention) and brain function (e.g. activation of working memory seen in functional MRI).” And they reported the benefits are observed when L-theanine is combined with caffeine.
Green tea enhances memory
Swiss researchers did an experiment with 2 groups to find out if EGCG enhances working memory using MRI (magnetic resistance imaging). The green tea drinkers performed better on memory tests than the placebo group. The MRIs revealed why: Their parietal lobes (which processes sensory information into words and thoughts) and their frontal lobes (responsible for decision making and problem-solving) were better able to communicate with each other. By increasing the amount of interplay between these two brain regions, green tea boosted these people’s ability to retain information.
Kids deserve green tea goodness
With such a powerful and long list of health benefits, green tea is often associated with life extension tactics, but green tea benefits are not only for seniors. Green tea is a great drink for teenagers and possibly pre-teenagers, if you choose the right green tea and fix it right. Of course, there are individual differences, so you may want to start slowly and use caution. If your children can drink green tea, that may be a tremendous benefit for them.
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Meet the Author: Kiyomi