Is Green Tea Healthy (for you)?

David Foster, L.Ac.
3 min readMay 1, 2024

In the western world we are often guilty of over-polarizing and labeling. This political viewpoint is good, that one is bad, this diet is healthy, that one is not. Further on that point, one food is healthy — while that one is not.

While there are many foods that can be oversimplified and universally agreed upon — refined sugars are pretty much always bad and steamed vegetables good — most others depend on the dose, the patient, and time of year. For example, red meat in the winter for an anemic girl trying to conceive is eons more advisable than it is in the summer for an overweight male alcoholic trying to tame his heartburn. Also from a Chinese medical perspective, eating 5–6 ounces of red meat 1–3 times a week alongside vegetables will have an infinitely different systemic effect than 16 ounces 3–5 times a week alongside bread.

Green tea and kale have earned great reputations in the west, polarized as “good,” labeled “healthy,” and presumed to help anyone who consumes them, no matter the body type or time of year. From a Chinese medical perspective: False.

Almost anyone who’s ever drank green tea on a completely empty stomach has experienced the nausea or queasiness its bitter properties can induce. Bitter foods and herbs, while integral to a healthy diet and our pharmacopeia, are harsh on the stomach and less advisable for “Tai Yin” patients — those with weaker, more vulnerable stomachs. Such people generally do better with hot black teas, such as pu-erh or Earl Grey.

When written into herbal formulas, bitters are generally dosed lower and balanced with acrid and/or sweet-flavored herbs. This doesn’t mean to always consume your green tea with sweets, but it is that much more encouraged to never be drank cold or on an empty stomach. In fact, green is the one kind of tea we might encourage to take with honey — that is as long as you’re not the snob that I am, in refusal to corrupt any tea (or coffee) with outside flavors.

The same principle applies to kale. While undoubtedly possessing of all the literal health benefits it claims to, kale is a bitter green, therefore a bit more difficult to digest than other veggies. For this reason, it is important to always consume cooked, with warming spices, such as garlic, onions, or ginger to aid in proper metabolism. I’m not sure about honey on kale — maybe in the context of a salad — although in that case the raw food might cancel out any benefits of the honey. Better to have it with rice or yams to balance your “formula.”

According to teachers, green tea is best taken hot, more in the summer than winter, and more after a night of red meat and/or alcohol to sort of “drain” the heat that these foods create in the gut. Personally, I almost always drink green tea the morning after I go to baseball games! In these instances, the benefits far outweigh its “side effects.”

Please fall victim as infrequently as possible to the idea that certain foods are always healthy or unhealthy. This is rarely the case, also rare that the opinion of the general American public on anything health-related is accurately informed. If you have any questions about a particular food, please don’t hesitate to ask. And don’t take too much kale or green tea.



David Foster, L.Ac.

Acupuncturist and Chinese medicine in NYC, special focuses in neurological, psychiatric, orthopedic, and autoimmune conditions. Hip Hop Head, '88-'98