The potential health benefits of green tea are hardly a well-kept secret these days. Sometimes it seems like you can barely turn around without running into another report breathlessly touting the merits of this fine beverage. Given this, it’s probably not surprising that some enterprising merchants have attempted to take the essence of what’s good (healthwise) about green tea and distill it into supplement form.

Gunpowder green tea - better than a supplement?

Gunpowder green tea – better than a supplement?

Which doesn’t sound like a particularly appealing notion to yours truly, quite frankly, but to each his/her own.

While I’d prefer to take my health benefits in liquid form from the highest quality green tea I can get my hands on, there’s obviously some logic to taking what’s good about green tea and turning it into a supplement. For those who are primarily concerned about the health benefits of tea, there’s obviously the question of what method of ingesting it provides the most benefit.

It’s a question that the USDA decided to tackle recently. Researchers with the agency’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) took a look at the difference between actual green tea leaves and matched them up against various commercially available brands of green tea supplements. The study group took a look at “extractions of 20 commercially available green tea dietary supplement products and eight dry green tea leaf samples” to try to determine which was the best. The study used a technique known as HPLC/MS, which allowed researchers to more accurately separate and measure various chemical components in the tea leaves and supplements.

Researchers stopped short of actually coming down on the side of tea leaves and they did point out that “there are fine green tea dietary supplement products.” However, they noted that the quality of these supplements tends to vary quite a bit, with no way for the average consumer to know what’s good and bad simply by consulting the packaging.

Results of the study were published in the Journal of AOAC International. For more on the study, as well as the methods used to conduct it, look here and here.

Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your physician for your particular needs.

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