If you go into most North American restaurants and ask for a cup of tea, it will generally be black tea like Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, or English Breakfast.
Some tea houses that do afternoon or high teas offer several black tea varieties as the star offering of the event. And you certainly can't enjoy a traditional cup of iced tea without using black tea as the base.
Compared to Eastern cultures that typically consume more oolong, green and white teas, black tea varieties became the most popular tea poured into the cups of Western culture. Let's explore what makes this tea so popular and discuss the possible health benefits of drinking black tea.
Black Tea History
Like green and oolong, plain black tea has its origins in China. When tea culture started spreading, black tea became the popular choice for export, far surpassing green tea.
Black tea would soon find its way to neighboring lands and eventually across the sea because of the oxidization in black tea leaves. It was discovered that storing black tea was easier, and the tea would stay fresher longer than green tea. This could also be why green tea mainly remained behind in Asia and became a more popular drink there.
The tea trade became so lucrative that tea was fermented, dried, and then pressed into bricks as a form of currency. To this day, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, right behind water.
Since then, most of the black tea produced in China has been exported worldwide. However, other countries like Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Kenya are also active in black tea production.
What is The Difference Between Black And Green Tea?
Oolong, green, black, and even white tea all come from the Camellia sinensis plant. The difference between the teas lies in the production of the tea leaves. Unlike green tea leaves, black tea leaves undergo the oxidization process, exposing the leaves to air to dry and darken.
When the Camellia sinensis plant's leaves are barely oxidized, green tea results. As the leaves are partially oxidized, you'll get oolong tea. And when the leaves are fully oxidized, you get black tea.
The leaves are then broken into tiny pieces, processed as loose-leaf tea or pulverized, and put into tea bags. Black tea has a strong taste of malt, spice, and smokey sweetness. It is best to enjoy it without milk, but you can add a little milk of your choice, a wedge of lemon, or a dash of lemon juice to create a new flavor.
The caffeine content is another significant difference between green, black, and oolong. Green teas have less caffeine than oolong and black tea, roughly 29 mg per cup. Oolong has about 38 mg of caffeine, and black tea contains more caffeine than both, approximately 47 mg in each cup.
Other teas like herbal tea typically have zero caffeine unless sold as a black tea blend. If you're looking for an alternative pick-me-up drink to coffee or energy drinks, black tea has much lower caffeine content but can still boost you.
The Health Benefits of Black Tea Consumption
Drinking black tea could have several health benefits. Studies show that consuming black tea may help with high blood pressure, weight loss, and improved brain function. There is also research linking the health benefits of black tea and cancer prevention. Let's take a closer look at how black tea can help your health.
Important Note: Although some research links black tea benefits and health, people should avoid consuming tea if they are already taking certain medications. Always consult a doctor before adding any new supplement, alternative treatment, food, or beverage to your daily diet.
Black tea contains polyphenols. Polyphenols, including theaflavins, thearubigins, and catechins, are the main types of antioxidants found in black teas. Consuming foods and beverages loaded with antioxidants has many health benefits. Some of the more common ways antioxidants help the body are:
Removing free radicals reduces cell damage in the body.
Reducing the risk of chronic disease.
One animal study found that the theaflavins and thearubigins in black tea may help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and high LDL cholesterol levels.
According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants may help reduce cancer cells in the human body and improve healthy cells of the immune system.
Although you can purchase a black tea extract or other supplements to get your recommended antioxidants, drinking tea or consuming other antioxidant-rich foods and beverages is the best way to get them.
Black Tea And Heart Health
Black Teas contain another group of antioxidants called flavonoids. These flavonoids promise to improve heart health and can be found in fruit, vegetables, dark chocolate, and red wine.
Consuming flavonoid-rich foods may help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. All of which can contribute to future health complications throughout the body.
One large review of studies showed that each time a person consumers a cup of tea, there was:
A 4% lower risk of developing heart disease.
A 2% lower risk of having a heart attack.
A 4% lower risk of stroke.
A 2% lower risk of death from heart-related problems.
Another study performed on 74,961 stroke patients over ten years revealed that drinking a minimum of four or more cups of black tea daily reduced the health risks associated with stroke.
Lower Bad LDL Cholesterol
LDL, along with HDL, are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the human body. If your body stores too much LDL, it may build up in an artery or blood vessel and create plaque. If you don't treat this, and the plaque builds up, you may risk heart disease or stroke.
Those who drink black tea may have reduced LDL levels. One study, in particular, found that people who drank green and black tea reduced the LDL cholesterol in their bodies by 4.64 mg/dL. People with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease saw even greater results.
May Improve Gut Health
Studies suggest that certain types of bacteria in your gut may be the key to better gut health. These bacteria can help reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even cancer.
Black tea contains polyphenols, which may help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut while also stopping the growth of bad bacteria. Black teas also contain antimicrobial properties that can destroy any harmful substances found in the gut. The result is better overall health in the digestive system.
Black Tea And Lower Blood Pressure
Dealing with high blood pressure is not fun, and it may even increase your chances of having a stroke, heart and kidney failure, vision loss, and even heart attacks. The best part is that you may be able to change your systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings by changing your diet.
Black Tea And Lower Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar levels can create health complications throughout the body. Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, higher body fat, and kidney failure can be linked to elevated blood sugar.
Insulin is a hormone secreted every time you consume sugar, which can come in candies, cakes, and sweetened beverages like soft drinks. Black tea is a great non-sweetened beverage, and it may help improve how insulin is used in the body by reducing blood sugar levels.
Drinking black tea may be the way to go if you focus on maintaining healthy body weight and incorporating a low-sugar diet. However, it is essential to note that not all teas are made the same. Some packaged tea brands are pre-sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Read the labels carefully to ensure the tea contains no sugar, or consider buying a loose-leaf tea like this one.
May Help Improve Focus
Black tea contains both caffeine and an amino acid l theanine. This amino acid may increase alpha activity in the brain. In one study that focused on the effects of black tea and cognitive performance, participants would consume cups of black tea or cups of water.
They were then given tests to show how well they did with attention, memory, mathematic calculations, and overall brain function. Those who consumed black tea performed much better than those that simply drank water.
Black tea may not be considered one of those functional foods, but it's more than simply an inviting drink made with hot water. With more research, black tea could prove to have more benefits over time. Check out this link if you're interested in having some of the best teas around, including loose-leaf black tea.