Monday January 19, 2009 | 27 comments
I find it interesting that while lifelong tea drinkers and connoisseurs consume green tea in liquid form (or perhaps dabble in treats sprinkled with Matcha), there is a subculture of green tea fans who consume the product by smoking it.
I wonder who even first looked at a tea plant and said, “I can smoke that!” As it turns out, this practice is fairly old and not uncommon. In China, one can find entire families gathered around a hookah, taking turns smoking green tea. In the U.S., experimental teenagers are drawn to it because it’s a legal way to get a mild high. Anxiety-ridden college students fill pipes with the fannings from green tea bags, and light up to calm their nerves. Even athletes–who usually abstain from any type of drug-like substance–find themselves smoking tea for its supposed fat-burning properties.
Regarding safety, some argue that tea smoke is not harmful to the lungs, as the free radicals & damaging molecules are offset by green tea’s protective antioxidant properties. Camellia sinensis also contains theanine, which has been shown to protect the brain from any neural damage. Is smoking tea actually good for you though? Probably not. It is likely not as bad as smoking tobacco, but that’s no reason to start smoking any time soon.
This topic is fairly controversial, and the practice of smoking green tea is still too limited to have warranted any large-scale medical studies to find possible benefits or harmful effects. Until science releases any opinions or findings on the matter, this author will stick to the tried and tested forms of the wonder plant. And besides, it’s not much fun consuming green tea if there isn’t a cute teapot involved!