The English might be on to something starting their day with a cup of Earl Grey. In addition to being a great source of caffeine, black tea provides several health benefits.
Black tea originated from China and spread across Europe and Asia quickly. As it spread, China also began to export tea, realizing that the black tea leaves sustained longer because of the long travel it makes.
It is trickier to transport green leaves for long periods because of the risk of oxidation. Before we begin the breakdown of everything healthy about black tea, let’s talk about where the leaves come from.
The origins of black tea
Have you ever thought about where your tea comes from? You might guess a plant, but which plant? And how is this made?
Black tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, but the way that it is harvested and processed is what makes the tea different from other tea type.
This plant can actually produce leaves for a variety of teas. The Black tea leaves are oxidized. What does this fancy term mean? Oxidation occurs when the leaves are exposed to moist, oxygen-rich air.
The process turns the leaves from a greenish color to a darker brownish-black color. Green tea actually comes from the same plant, but the leaves are not oxidized. The more oxidized it is, the darker the color of the tea is.
All of these tea leaves come from the Camellia sinensis plant: white, green, yellow, oolong, black or pu-erh. The process of oxidation determines the appearance and taste of the tea. There are two methods one could choose from to get this black tea prepared
Black Tea Processing (Orthodox): Withering → 1st Rolling → Oxidizing/Fermenting → Drying (110°C/65°C)
Black Tea Processing (Non-Orthodox/CTC): Withering → Cutting/Tearing/Curling → Oxidizing/Fermenting → Drying (130°C/90°C)
6 health benefits of black tea
So, what is in black tea that brings about the many health factors it provides?
1. Black tea contains antioxidants
While green tea contains catechins, black tea contains thearubigins, theaflavins, and flavonols. This is because of the oxidation process. Keep in mind that black tea does begin as green tea.
Antioxidants are substances that help slow down the process of cell damage, which can happen due to the environment or stress. This is more important than one might think. Outside causes of cell damage can include:
- mitochondrial activity
- excessive exercise
- tissue trauma, due to inflammation and injury
- ischemia and reperfusion damage
- consumption of certain foods, especially refined and processed foods, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and certain dyes and additives
- environmental pollution
- exposure to chemicals, such as pesticides and drugs, including chemotherapy
- industrial solvents
Do we want any of these to disrupt our body? No, but they can. Besides eating healthy foods, Black Tea is another agent full of antioxidants that have the power to relieve the free radicals from your body or at least slow the process down.
2. Black tea helps clean up plaque in your arteries
When plaque builds up in your arteries, it's called atherosclerosis. It’s actually very common and can lead to coronary heart disease. Plaque build up is caused by fats, cholesterol, and other substances blocking blood flow. This can lead to a blocked artery and possibly burst.
3. Black tea lowers the risk of cancer
In all the research of preventing the spread of cancer, researchers have seen Theaflavins (TF) and Thearubigins (TG),which are ingredients in Black Tea, inhibit certain invasive angiogenesis and tumor cells. They also have the power to protect against UV damage to the skin (which can cause cancer), and modulate the immune system function.
Researchers found that of three teas (white, green, and black), the polysaccharides in black tea had the most glucose-inhibiting properties. The black tea polysaccharides also showed the highest scavenging effect on free radicals, which are involved in the onset of diseases such as cancer.
4. Black tea protects against diabetes
With Type 2 Diabetes being on the rise, individuals should be on the lookout for ways to prevent this and help regulate it naturally. While Black Tea will not solve this chronic condition, it can help the situation and keep you healthy.
According to the Journal of Food Science, July 2009, Polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that includes starch and cellulose, may benefit people with Type 2 Diabetes because they help retard absorption of glucose. The polysaccharides in black tea had the most glucose-inhibiting properties. While there is still more research to be done on this, most studies conducted have concluded that drinking Black Tea is encouraged when faced with Diabetes Type 2.
5. Black tea increases bone density
Researchers have found that it helps to improve your bone density. According to a study done in England, this was their result:
Among the women, there were over 1,100 tea drinkers and just about 120 non-tea drinkers, all between the ages of 65 and 76.
Tea drinkers had significantly greater bone mineral density measurements. Among coffee drinkers, those who also drank tea had significantly higher measurements as well.
"These findings were independent of smoking status, use of hormone replacement therapy, coffee drinking, and whether milk was added to tea," says Hegarty. Also, the number of cups of tea per day did not seem to play a role, and women who added milk to their tea had much higher bone mineral density in the hip area.
Although drinking caffeine was a red flag in bone health, drinking Black Tea paints a different picture for the brittle boned. And don’t forget the milk! Studies on this have since been even more confirmed over the years.
6. Black tea reduces blood pressure
Black tea has been shown to reduce blood pressure according to research.
High blood pressure is a condition that reaches many humans. There are many things you can do and take to help lower this risk, and one of those things are the natural Black Tea elements.
There was a research project done on tea drinkers. Out of about 95 participants, half were given black tea, while the others were given a placebo with a little bit of caffeine. These participants drank three cups a day. After six months, the half who drank the Black Tea had their blood pressure lowered, averaging about 2-3 points lower.
Start drinking black tea
There are several reasons to start drinking black tea. Black tea contains caffeine, but its natural ingredients help to soothe and regulate the body.
Your body does many great things for you, including producing its own antioxidants, but black tea can provide an extra boost.