It's safe to say there is plenty of hard science to back up the health benefit claims of green tea. More specifically, evidence suggests the harmful effects of the oxidation of cholesterol in the bloodstream may be partially neutralized with powerful antioxidants, and green tea is known to possess natural antioxidants.

You know it, but how can you best act on it?

Prepare it yourself

As you might imagine, the best way to enjoy the full advantages of green tea is to drink it freshly brewed and caffeinated, as decaffeination reduces the flavonoid content by nearly 50 percent.

Unfortunately, bottled (or canned) green tea available in most supermarkets typically has negligible quantities of flavonoids. If you choose instant teas, make certain they are not black teas, which have far lesser quantities of flavonoids.

When brewing your own tea, many tea manufacturers recommend steeping the tea for one to three minutes at 150 to 190° F. However, to maximize flavonoid extraction for heart health purposes, three to five minutes may be necessary. There is a trade-off as longer steeping times will also increase bitterness. It is recommended that you adjust steeping time and temperature to match your personal tastes in an effort to achieve both flavor and effectiveness.

My friend and cardiologist Dr. William R. Davis notes that loose green tea is preferable to most teabags sold in grocery stores since loose tea is made from tea leaves while bags often contain the less desirable fragments.

He also suggests that a good alternative to brewing green tea is to grind loose tea in a coffee grinder or food processor to yield an edible green tea powder that contains high levels of catechins as well as the other constituents of the whole tea leaf. However, only small quantities should be consumed, as a tablespoon of green tea powder can contain somewhere around 1,000 mg green tea catechins. That being said, green tea powder is easily added to smoothies, spinach dips, condiments, sauces, and other recipes.

How do you like enjoying your green tea? Leave your tips in the comments below.