The Powerful Health Benefits of EGCG and How You Should Take It

Japanese Green tea has excellent health effects on several chronic diseases. There are numerous nutrients in the tea responsible for this. However, the nutrient called EGCG may be the most potent from a health benefits perspective.

This article will dive into EGCG, how it helps our health, and the best ways to take EGCG daily.

This article was last modified Dec 11th, 2022. by Yuki

Introduction to EGCG

EGCG is one of the four main tea catechins specific to tea plants or Camellia Sinensis. Here are the four types of green tea catechins.

  • Epicatechin (EC)
  • Epigallocatechin (EGC)
  • Epicatechin Gallate (ECG)
  • Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG)

Those are a lot of similar difficult names. However, each of them has very different functionalities.

What are catechins in the first place?

Catechins are a type of Polyphenol. Polyphenols are a group of naturally occurring antioxidants found in different plants.

Within the Polyphenols, one sub-group with one of the highest health benefits is Flavonoids. Catechins are known to be one of the most potent Flavonoids regarding health benefits.

The Flavonoids in green tea are mostly Catechins, as they comprise 80%-90% of the Flavonoids. Japanese Green tea also contains other Flavonoids with essential health benefits, such as Myricetin.

Out of the catechins, tea leaves contain the most amount of EGCG. It accounts for roughly half of all catechins found in Japanese Green Tea.

Approximately six to seven percent of the dried leaves of Japanese green tea are EGCG.

While each of these Catechins has tremendous health benefits, EGCG is the nutrient associated with most Japanese Green Tea's health benefits.

Let's dive into the health benefits discovered from several pieces of research conducted.


EGCG and Dementia. Preventing the Aging of the Brain

Dementia is one of the diseases scientists have found EGCG has a role in preventing.

Dementia is a broad categorization of diseases where the brain's cognitive functions decline. Diseases such as Alzheimer's are a type of Dementia.

In a study in Japan where 1,003 people aged 70 or more were drinking different amounts of tea. They observed people drinking two or more cups had a reduced risk of having cognitive impairment. [2]

Another study in Japan with 723 participants 60 years and older similarly showed that the incidence of Dementia for those who consumed green tea every day was only 26% of those who didn't drink green tea at all. [3]

Although the mechanisms for how EGCG helps the brain are not entirely understood, the EGCG in Japanese green tea can reach the brain in 2-3 hours after consumption, affecting the improvements in learning activities. [4]

See Also: Introduction to Japanese Green Tea and Diseases Related to the brain Such as Dementia and Alzheimer's


EGCG and Diabetes. Preventing the Aging of the Brain

EGCG is also known to help reduce the risk of Diabetes by lowering the blood sugar level.

A large-scale human-based study conducted in Japan concluded that a person drinking six or more cups of green tea per day has a 33% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than a person who drinks less than one cup per week.[5]

This risk reduction is possible because the EGCG naturally has several functions that reduce the blood sugar level in your body. You can find more details about the six mechanisms by which EGCG helps lower blood sugar here.


EGCG and Cancer

Cancer has become the most significant cause of death in Singapore. While the studies are still being conducted, research shows massive potential for how the EGCG helps fight cancer.

Scientists studied the effects of green tea on mortality rates of all causes in a giant study of 313,381 people. It concluded that green tea consumption reduces women's cancer mortality rate by 9%. [6]

EGCG is effective because it has the characteristic of bonding into a protein in the human body cell called 67LR. High amounts of 67LR exist in cancer cells, and EGCG can attach and cause cell death to them.

Not only that, EGCG is a powerful antioxidant. It reduces human cell damage from occurring, reducing the risk of cancer.


EGCG and Hepatitis B and C

Scientists have also found that EGCG effectively prevents viral hepatitis, such as Hepatitis B and C.

They have observed that the EGCG helps help inhibit the infection of the virus. Furthermore, the EGCG also inhibits the replication of the virus.


Other Health Benefits of Green Tea Catechins

We went over some of the health benefits that EGCG helps explicitly. There are other health benefits that the four Green Tea Catechin collectively affect.

Here are some of them.

Not all tea has the same amount of EGCG. Several factors impact the amount of EGCG there is in Japanese green tea.

What's the best tea to look for if you want EGCG?


Types of Tea for Taking EGCG

Although all types of Green tea contain EGCG, the highest concentration is in Japanese Green tea.

A study in 2018 compared different types of green tea infusions from various countries, including Japan, Sri Lanka, South Korea, India, and China.

The total amount of green tea catechins was the highest in Japanese Sencha and South Korean Jeoncha, with 422 mg/ 100ml each.

Furthermore, EGCG scored the highest in Japanese green tea and Sri Lanka tea, with 124 mg/100ml. [9]

This research shows that looking for Japanese green tea is the most effective way of absorbing EGCG.


The Sencha, Fukamushi-Sencha, and Tamaryokucha are best for EGCG Consumption

The highest amount of EGCG and other green tea catechins are found in Japanese green teas that preserve their most natural form. The more the tea is altered during the cultivation or manufacturing process, the less EGCG it contains.

Therefore, you should look for standard Japanese green teas such as Sencha, Tamaryokucha, or the Fukamushi-Sencha. These are all loose-leaf tea types, therefore, easy to prepare.

The Sencha is the most standard form of Japanese Green tea. It is a tea that is unoxidized through steaming. Subsequently, it goes through a "rolling" process to crush and shape the leaves and prepare them for infusion. That's how they end up with a beautiful needle-like shape.

The Fukamushi-Sencha is similar to Sencha. However, it goes through a longer steaming process. This process increases the umami and mellowness of the tea while reducing the aroma. The leaves will look crumbled compared to the aesthetically pleasing Sencha.

The Tamaryokucha is a rare type of tea produced in Japan. This type is also similar to the Sencha in that it is unoxidized through steaming. However, it doesn't go through the rolling process.
The nutritional makeup is very similar to the Sencha.

If you're looking for EGCG, these three types of Japanese Green Tea would be a solid choice.


The Funmatsu-Ryokucha and EGCG

The Funmatsu-Ryokucha is also an excellent way to absorb EGCG. It's a type of powdered Japanese green tea, therefore very different from the three types of tea we discussed above.

Funmatsu-Ryokucha is produced in the same way as Sencha. However, it is grounded as green tea powder so that it can dissolve in water. Instead of infusing this tea, you will dissolve this in hot water to drink.

This form is advantageous from a nutritional standpoint.

Loose-leaf tea infusions can only extract 40%-60% of the soluble nutrients in Japanese Green Tea. By taking Funmatsu-Ryokucha, you can absorb all the nutrients, including insoluble nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E, and fiber, in the green tea leaves.

While this is an excellent way to get nutrients, Funmatsu-Ryokucha may be bitter and astringent.

Firstly, Funmatsu-Ryokucha generally uses lower-grade tea leaves, which are high in astringency and bitterness. The bitterness and astringency are pronounced by directly consuming this instead of infusing it.

You may like the taste of Funmatsu-Ryokucha, and find it easy to continue as a daily habit. In that case, it's a recommendation as it's a highly efficient way of taking in EGCG.

However, through several studies of EGCG, it's also evident that the persistent habit of drinking EGCG is key to reaping the health benefits of this nutrient.

Enjoying the taste of green tea is vital for persistence. So if you can't truly enjoy Funmatsu-Ryokucha, I recommend you stick to delicious infusions of loose-leaf tea.

This choice will give you a better chance of establishing and continuing this healthy habit.


How to Infuse the tea to maximize EGCG?

EGCG is a relatively tricky nutrient to dissolve in water. It only starts to dissolve in water from 80 degrees Celsius and above.

Therefore, you want to avoid cold-brew tea if you're looking for EGCG. You can maximize the EGCG content by boiling water in a pan to reach 100 degrees and immediately using that to infuse the tea.

It's also better to drink Japanese Green Tea at different times across the day instead of all at once.

The EGCG only lasts in the bloodstream for roughly 2-3 hours. To keep the EGCG in the bloodstream throughout the day, try drinking green tea with each meal.

For example, you can drink green tea with each meal.
If you are concerned with the hindrance of sleep due to caffeine, you can avoid dinner. Drink in the morning and noon, and also in the afternoon as a part of tea time.


Risks with Supplements when Taking EGCG

Now that you understand EGCG's benefits, it may sound easier to take it as a supplement than infused tea. However, we don't recommend supplements.

While EGCG is safe even in high quantities when taken as an infused tea, there have been reports of risks of liver damage when taken as a supplement. [10]

In 2018 the European Food Safety Authority published a scientific opinion on the risk of EGCG supplements for liver damage. [11] Currently, there is consideration of restricting EGCG as a supplement also.

It also mentions that "The Panel concluded that catechins from green tea infusion, prepared in a traditional way, and reconstituted drinks with an equivalent composition to traditional green tea infusions, are in general considered to be safe...",

We always recommend EGCG through loose-leaf tea infusions.


EGCG FAQs

What is EGCG for the plant in the first place?

EGCG and other green tea catechins are substances produced in the tea leaves. Therefore you won't see too much of them in the tea plant's branches, twigs, or roots.

The creation of green tea catechins starts with a substance called Theanine.

Theanine, the Umami component of the tea leaves, is produced in the tea leaves' roots and sent to the leaves. This mechanism is how the tea tree transfers nutrients from the soil to the leaves.

When Theanine hits sunlight, this changes form and produces Catechin. It is believed this is how the tea tree protects itself from sunlight.

Since Catechin is an astringent compound, and Theanine is the umami compound, quality green tea maximizes the amount of Theanine while reducing the amount of Catechin.
Although this may sound counterintuitive, if you're looking for EGCG, it's better to stay away from high-grade tea. High-grade tea contains lower levels of EGCG.

However, too much EGCG always means too much astringency. Since the continued habit of drinking is most important, finding the right balance of quality and astringency is essential.

Luckily, the astringency is a good part of the taste. It's an enjoyable part of the green tea experience that adds body and substance to the taste.

Without astringency, the tea may feel too light.

The issue comes when there is too much astringency. The trick is finding the balance, so it is enjoyable and meets your health needs.


How about Matcha or Gyokuro?

Matcha and Gyokuro are both high-grade teas within the Japanese Green Tea spectrum. They both go through approximately three weeks of shading from the sun.

This process preserves the amount of Theanine while reducing the amount of tea catechin.
While this makes for a perfectly delicious tea bursting with umami and great relaxation benefits, it reduces the amount of EGCG.


How about Houjicha or Iribancha

Teas such as Houjicha or Iribancha undergo an additional roasting process to change the tea taste. This added step significantly reduces the remaining green tea catechin, including EGCG, within the tea.

While Houjicha and Iribancha are fantastic tea with significant health benefits, these are not the tea to look for when looking for EGCG.


How about Genmaicha

Genmaicha is green tea mixed with roasted brown rice kernels. It is a type of heartwarming flavored tea.
Since Genmaicha is usually made from mixing Sencha, it contains EGCG. It certainly is an option if you're looking for EGCG.
However, since brown rice dilutes the amount of green tea leaves used in each infusion, the overall amount of EGCG may be less.

Author Yuki

Yuki

Yuki is the Editor-in-Chief AND Community Manager at Tealife. He bleeds Japanese Tea and loves being a part of the Japanese Tea journey of others. Writes, does events, conducts tasting sessions, drinks, drinks and drinks tea! Easily accessible - hit him up on whatsapp (+65) 85882980.


References

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[3] Noguchi-Shinohara M, Yuki S, Dohmoto C, Ikeda Y, Samuraki M, Iwasa K, Yokogawa M, Asai K, Komai K, Nakamura H, Yamada M. Consumption of green tea, but not black tea or coffee, is associated with reduced risk of cognitive decline. PLoS One. 2014 May 14;9(5):e96013. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0096013. PMID: 24828424; PMCID: PMC4020750.

[4] Pervin M, Unno K, Nakagawa A, Takahashi Y, Iguchi K, Yamamoto H, Hoshino M, Hara A, Takagaki A, Nanjo F, Minami A, Imai S, Nakamura Y. Blood brain barrier permeability of (-)-epigallocatechin gallate, its proliferation-enhancing activity of human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, and its preventive effect on age-related cognitive dysfunction in mice. Biochem Biophys Rep. 2017 Jan 5;9:180-186. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrep.2016.12.012. PMID: 28956003; PMCID: PMC5614586.

[5] Iso H, Date C, Wakai K, Fukui M, Tamakoshi A; JACC Study Group. The relationship between green tea and total caffeine intake and risk for self-reported type 2 diabetes among Japanese adults. Ann Intern Med. 2006 Apr 18;144(8):554-62. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-144-8-200604180-00005. PMID: 16618952.

[6] Abe SK, Saito E, Sawada N, Tsugane S, Ito H, Lin Y, Tamakoshi A, Sado J, Kitamura Y, Sugawara Y, Tsuji I, Nagata C, Sadakane A, Shimazu T, Mizoue T, Matsuo K, Naito M, Tanaka K, Inoue M; Research Group for the Development and Evaluation of Cancer Prevention Strategies in Japan. Green tea consumption and mortality in Japanese men and women: a pooled analysis of eight population-based cohort studies in Japan. Eur J Epidemiol. 2019 Oct;34(10):917-926. doi: 10.1007/s10654-019-00545-y. Epub 2019 Aug 7. PMID: 31392470.

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[8] Ciesek S, von Hahn T, Colpitts CC, Schang LM, Friesland M, Steinmann J, Manns MP, Ott M, Wedemeyer H, Meuleman P, Pietschmann T, Steinmann E. The green tea polyphenol, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, inhibits hepatitis C virus entry. Hepatology. 2011 Dec;54(6):1947-55. doi: 10.1002/hep.24610. PMID: 21837753.

[9] Koch W, Kukula-Koch W, Komsta Ł, Marzec Z, Szwerc W, Głowniak K. Green Tea Quality Evaluation Based on Its Catechins and Metals Composition in Combination with Chemometric Analysis. Molecules. 2018 Jul 11;23(7):1689. doi: 10.3390/molecules23071689. PMID: 29997337; PMCID: PMC6100455.

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[11] https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/5239