Green Tea: The Pakhtun Beverage

For as long as 5,000 years, people have consumed tea leaves steeped in boiling water in countries like India, China, and Thailand. And while, India and China were among the very first countries to cultivate tea, today it is considered to be one of the most popular beverages (next to coffee), around the world; second only to water.

Although, there are many different varieties of tea, of which include black tea, white tea, and green tea, among Pakhtuns, green tea (Shne Chai) is the most popular of all. It is most commonly served during “Melmastia” – one of the main tenets of Pakhtunwali – which emphasizes kindness and hospitality towards guests in social/family gatherings. Hence, it is understood that green tea is naturally considered a part of Pakhtun culture, for it is not only incredibly healthy and delicious, enjoyed by many Pakhtuns from all walks of life; it is also the only beverage that allows for social unity, where strangers become friends, and friends become family.

In addition to its communal unification and incredible taste, green tea also has a plethora of health benefits. Unlike other types of tea, green tea is made from unfermented leaves that contain the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called “polyphenols.” It is a fact that all humans have a myriad of destructive toxins in their bodies, depending on their daily food intake. And these toxins contribute to a number of very harmful health problems such as high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and atherosclerosis (just to name a few).

Consequently, humans need antioxidants in order to rid their bodies of toxicity; yet, these toxins are not only limited to the internal body, for they may also be environmentally-related, caused by the sun (ultra-violet rays), cigarette smoke, and air pollution. Thus, antioxidants such as polyphenols may help drastically reduce, and even help prevent, some of the damage caused by these wounding toxins.

Further, green tea is the perfect remedy for weight loss. As surprising as this may sound to some, clinical studies have shown that green tea extract helps boost metabolism and even helps in burning excess fat. As a matter of fact, the combination of green tea and caffeine not only helps improve weight loss but also aids maintenance in overweight and moderately obese individuals. And, of course, the magic ingredient that’s responsible for this, once again, is polyphenols, which are primarily responsible for the tea’s fat-burning effect.

Additionally, drinking green tea regularly helps prevent tooth decay, bad breath, as well as inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. And more interestingly, it is also effective in preventing symptoms of colds and influenza; and aids in the reduced risk of life mortality. So, the more people consume green tea, the more they are likely to live a longer life.

However, despite the copious health benefits that green tea provides, it also has its very limited drawbacks. While it’s true that green tea helps strengthen the body and supports the treatment of disease, it also contains active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications (if taken at the same time). People with heart problems, kidney disorders, stomach ulcers, and psychological disorders (particularly anxiety) should not take green tea. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid green tea. Further drawbacks include people who drink excessive amounts of caffeine (from green tea) for prolonged periods of time; these people are likely to experience irritability, insomnia, heart palpitations, and dizziness. Caffeine overdose can further cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and loss of appetite.

Hence, consumption of green tea should be done in moderation, for it is understood that too much of anything (even if it is initially “good”) could pose potential health hazards. The human body can be very vulnerable at times, so it is very important that people take good care of it. Ideally, it is best to drink two to three cups a day; and that too spread well throughout the day. This way the body allows the tea to get absorbed properly, especially after meals, making it easier for the antioxidants to start working their magic.

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