Black tea is a popular tea across the world. However, many people only consume it to relax and feel great. What they don’t know is that by drinking black tea, they are keeping their heart healthy, protecting themselves from cancer, improving their digestive system and other benefits.
What is Black Tea?
Black tea is a type of tea usually consumed without milk. Like other types of teas, it is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. The unique flavour of the tea is the result of its production process.
Black tea goes through the longest oxidation process and contains the highest levels of caffeine. The latter is, however, just a small fraction compared to the amount of caffeine found in coffee.
Black tea leaves are handpicked and placed in bamboo leaves for drying. They are then formed into the desired shapes and gently bruised after they limp. Subsequently, the tea releases enzymes required for the oxidation process.
The tea is then exposed in the air (oxidation process), which results in its black or dark brown colour.
When they reach their peak, they are subjected to heat to avoid further oxidation. They are then packaged for sale.
Types of Black Tea
It may surprise you, but they are several types of black tea. They are classified depending on where the tea is sourced.
Black tea is a common breakfast in many parts of the world, as well as its multiple infusions.
Be sure to sample the different types of black teas and infusions before you settle on your choice of tea – you may just realize you have never tasted your favourite type.
Flavour and Aroma of Black Tea
Black tea is among the strongest true teas. It gives a similar vibe to a cup of coffee. The flavour of a black tea is determined by where it was grown, the method of harvesting and lastly the production process.
Black tea can be nutty, savoury, sweet, smoky, earthy and malty.
Health Benefits of Black Tea
Cancer Treatment and Prevention
Cancer is one of the names that nobody wants to hear. However, the National Cancer Institute has several studies proving the ability of black tea in treating cancer.
This is as a result of the polyphenols in it, which lowers the risk of various cancer types. Epigallocatechin gallate(EGCG) is the strongest antioxidants in the tea.
Research by Anticancer Agents in Medicinal-Chemistry showed that EGCG protects the body from mutations that lead to cancer. Under some occasions, the antioxidant was able to kill the cancerous cells.
Although black tea is a good preventive measure of all cancers, it is more effective in the prevention of lung cancer, ovarian and breast cancer.
Another study published in the European Journal of Cancer showed that the aflavins (polyphenols in black tea) stop the spread of breast cancer cells. This is through the prevention of growth of tumours and reproduction of the cells.
Drinking black tea, accompanied by a healthy lifestyle, is one of the ways to prevent cancer.
Good Heart Health
Black tea is popularly known for the prevention of heart illness. Studies have proven that black tea can help in reducing cholesterol levels and prevent a stroke.
Black tea helps in lowering blood pressure hence preventing heart diseases. A cup of black tea every morning can protect you from multiple cardiovascular diseases.
A study published in Preventative Medicine did an experiment on the effects of black tea on blood pressure. The experiment consisted of 12 individuals who consumed black tea three times a day. The latter was compared to another group who only took hot water.
At the end of the exercise, those who drank black tea had low blood pressure & triglyceride levels. Black tea also reduced LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by 16% and increased HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) by 20%.
Another review published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied the history of black tea and heart health. They realized that long-term consumption of black tea was associated with a healthy heart – that is 3 cups of tea in one day.
Another analysis was published in Stroke, reviewing nine main pieces of research on the effects of black tea with 200 000 participants who had nonfatal and fatal strokes. The researchers found out that drinking 3 cups of black tea every day reduced the risk of cancer by 21%.
Protects Against Diabetes
Black tea helps in preventing the issues leading to type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and obesity. In America, the excessive consumption of sugar has led to an increase in people with diabetes. Consumption of black tea may, therefore, reduce the risk of diabetes by lowering the consumption of sugar.
Why does sugar bring health complications? Once you consume sugary stuff, your pancreas releases insulin. The later transfers the sugar to your muscles, where it is converted to energy, which is a good thing.
Issues arise when there is too much sugar in your body as it is stored as fat, which may lead to insulin resistance and other health complications.
Black tea can help enhance the body’s use and tolerance of insulin. Research published by Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed the aflavins, tannins and EGCG, increase insulin hence boosting the activity by 15 times.
Another study found out that extracts of black tea helped in the secretion of insulin. This is vital to diabetic individuals who have a problem producing and tolerating insulin.
Boosts Digestive System
In Asia, black tea is a common beverage during mealtime. Traditional medicine claims that it eliminates digestive problems and smoothens the digestion process. It also prevents bacterial growth that causes ulcers and eliminates diarrhoea.
Research by Food Reviews International studied the impact of black tea on the digestive tract. The results showed that tea prevents the growth of bad bacteria and encourages the growth of good bacteria. It was seen to be especially effective in the prevention of Helicobacter pylori and Salmonella responsible for stomach ulcers.
Black tea also has compounds called tannins, that has an astringent effect, which prevents irritation and inflammation that is responsible for bad bowel movements.
A study was carried out by the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine with 60 participants with diarrhoea of ages 2-12. They found that black tea had antidiarrhoea properties and soothing effect that eliminated the stomach discomfort.
Packed With Antioxidants
Black tea has a large number of antioxidants that improves general health. Antioxidants get rid of free radicals (toxins resulting from environmental pollution, smoking or unhealthy eating) can damage body processes.
Free radicals have been linked to multiple diseases, including cancer. Black tea flushes them from your system.
May Boost Energy and Focus
Black tea has the highest levels of caffeine among all teas. It can, therefore, help you start your day with energy as well as boost your energy levels in the afternoons when you are feeling exhausted.
With black tea, you don’t experience the sudden energy drop because it has L-theanine, an amino acid that assists in delivering caffeine smoothly.
A review published in Nutrition Reviews studied the ability of black tea to boost energy levels. They found out that the L-theanine and caffeine combination boosted focus levels and ability to avoid distractions. They also discovered the energy levels and alertness lasted more than that of caffeine.
Another study published in Appetite researched the relationship between attentiveness and black tea. They used two groups, one that used placebos with flavours and colouring while the other group took real black tea.
Those who took black tea showed high ability in performing tests and switching tasks. They also had sharper visual attention than those who took placebos.
Protects the Brain
Consuming black tea every day may prevent you from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative neurological illnesses. This is all thanks to the high levels of antioxidants in the tea.
Black tea can also reduce stress and prevent anxiety, depression, among other psychological diseases.
A research carried out by Psychopharmacology tested the relationship between black tea and stress levels. They had 75 participants, who were given black tea for six weeks and later given placebos for six weeks.
In the first weeks of consuming black tea, they showed a reduced level of cortisol, a hormone associated with restlessness and anxiety. They also felt relaxed even when exercise increased their heart rate.
Side Effects of Black Tea
Black tea has zero side effects when consumed in moderation. However, taking 4 or 5 cups of tea per day may have side effects due to the caffeine levels.
Excess caffeine can lead to irregular heartbeat, anxiety, nausea and headache.
Is Black Tea Good For You?
We can all agree that black tea is one of the common beverages across the globe. It has a bold flavour, which makes it a better choice compared to coffee.
If you want to enjoy all the health benefits of black tea, stick to brewing the tea yourself instead of tea bags.
A cup of black tea a day can keep the doctor away.