Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world after water. All tea comes from Camellia sinensis plant, but different ways of harvesting and processing the plant produce different types of tea.
After harvest, the black tea leaves undergo a process of wilting, bruising, rolling and
Oxidation occurs when the leaves are left exposed to the air for a long time. Enzymes break down chemicals in the leaves, producing their brown coloring and familiar scent.
The process of making green tea is similar, but it does not involve oxidation. Oxidation can give black tea nutritional benefits that are not present in green tea.
For example, the nutrients in black tea can reduce the risk of several cancers, protect the heart against atherosclerosis, and help maintain healthy blood pressure.
In this article, learn more about the benefits of drinking black tea, as well as the nutrients it provides and the possible risks.
According to the United States Tea Association, black tea made up about 84% of tea consumption in the United States in 2018.
Black tea can have similar benefits to green tea. However, many studies have focused specifically on black tea and the impact of the oxidation process on health.
One key area of interest is black tea as a source of antioxidants.
Antioxidants help fight free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body that result from both natural processes and environmental pressures.
The body can eliminate free radicals, but if there are too many of them they can damage or modify cells in the body.
These changes can contribute to the development of many diseases and conditions, such as atherosclerosis and some cancers.
Antioxidants can help remove free radicals, and tea is a source of antioxidants. Indeed, a study notes that phenolic compounds, which have antioxidant effects, constitute
The antioxidants in black tea are different from those in green tea, due to the oxidation process. Green tea mainly contains catechins. During oxidation, these transform into thearubigins, theaflavins and flavonols.
These can give black tea different benefits compared to green tea.
What are antioxidants and how can they benefit us?
Protect against atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis refers to a buildup of plaque in the walls of the arteries. This can lead to coronary heart disease, stroke, and chronic kidney disease. Free radicals can contribute to this condition.
A 2004 study in hamsters suggested that consuming black tea or green tea in equivalent doses in humans may prevent the development of atherosclerosis. More research is needed in humans to confirm this.
One review suggests that drinking three or more cups of tea a day may help protect against coronary heart disease.
However, it is important to note that black tea
In 2013, researchers found evidence suggesting that people who drank four or more cups of black tea per day had a lower risk of stroke.
Learn more about atherosclerosis here.
Reduce the risk of cancer
Results cited by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) suggest that the polyphenols in tea may decrease the risk of tumor growth.
In particular, black tea
However, more studies are needed to confirm whether consuming tea as part of a diet can help reduce the risk.
How can diet affect cancer? Find out here.
Reduce blood pressure
The results of a 2015 study suggest that black tea may lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
Consuming black tea also appears to negate the impact of a high fat meal on blood pressure.
This benefit remained despite the caffeine content of the tea. However, this was a small study with only 19 participants, so larger studies are needed to confirm these results.
In this article, learn more about foods that help lower blood pressure.
Protect against diabetes
Some research has suggested that drinking tea may help reduce the risk of diabetes.
Benefits for other conditions
Researchers also found that black tea may help improve bone density, reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and protect against Parkinson’s disease.
However, more studies are needed to confirm these results.
NCI notes that tea contains:
- alkaloids, including caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine
- amino acids
- minerals and trace elements
- volatile organic compounds, which contribute to its smell and taste
The antioxidant effect of black tea is due to its polyphenol content. Polyphenols are chemical compounds that protect plants from ultraviolet rays and harmful pathogens and pathogens.
Flavonoids are a type of polyphenol. They occur in grapes, red wine, and other foods.
The antioxidant effect of polyphenols can help protect the body from changes that lead to disease.
Which foods are good sources of antioxidants? Find out here.
Consuming black tea can be a healthy way to boost your caffeine daily. Tea is low in calories, especially when a person does not add sugar.
Ways to adjust flavor without adding sugar or sweeteners include:
- mix tea with spices, such as cinnamon
- add lemon juice
- adding mint
People can also use it in cooking. For example, they can use it:
In stock: Black tea can add a smoky flavor to soups made with red meat or mushrooms.
In poaching liquids: Poaching of food in black tea infuses the aroma into the food. One idea is to poach mushrooms in lapsang souchong black tea.
For cooking beans and cereals: Replacing water with tea when cooking rice or beans adds a smoky undertone to their flavor.
For dessert: Infuse the flavor of tea in hot milk and add it to puddings or custards. Or infuse Earl Gray black tea into chocolate mousse.
There may be risks in drinking black tea. The following sections discuss these risks in more detail.
All brewed tea contains minerals which in excess can be toxic.
Lead and aluminum are present in tea. In high doses, these heavy metals can be toxic to humans. Minor traces of arsenic and cadmium may also be present in some teas, but not in harmful amounts.
Black tea also has high levels of manganese. The body needs this mineral, but it can be toxic in excess.
The longer the tea brews, the higher the concentration of these toxic elements will be. Brewing tea for up to 3 minutes can reduce the risk.
Depending on where and how people grow the tea, there may also be traces of pesticides in the leaves. This is another reason why people limit the amount of tea they consume each day.
What is lead poisoning? Find out here.
Effects of caffeine
Black tea contains around 2-4% caffeine.
People who are sensitive to caffeine may experience insomnia, anxiety, irritability, or upset stomach when consuming large amounts of tea.
Consuming too much caffeine can also lead to:
People who drink tea regularly and experience any of the above symptoms should consider reducing their tea intake. If symptoms persist, they should seek medical attention.
Learn more about caffeine consumption here.
Black tea contains tannins. A 2017
For this reason, people with a history of iron deficiency should avoid consuming tea when taking iron supplements or eating a meal rich in iron.
They should also allow an hour between eating and drinking black tea.
Learn more about iron deficiency anemia here.
Interactions with drugs and supplements
Black tea and the caffeine it contains can interact with different drugs and supplements.
These drugs include, but are not limited to:
Adenosine: Doctors give this medicine before a cardiac stress test.
Antibiotics: Some types of antibiotics affect the way the body breaks down caffeine.
Carbamazepine (Tegretol): Caffeine may reduce the effectiveness of this medication in preventing seizures.
ephedrine: This, like caffeine, is a stimulant. Taking them together could therefore trigger side effects.
People who take medication should talk to their doctor about their caffeine intake in the form of tea or coffee. This could impact how their medications work and their risk of side effects.
Iced teas and ready-to-drink teas may be less healthy than plain black tea because the composition is different. Instant and flavored teas may contain sugar and other ingredients.
Adding sugar, milk, cream, and syrups to tea increases the calorie content and may reduce its health benefits.
Black tea is a popular drink around the world, and it may have some health benefits. It is also low in calories.
People who drink a lot of tea – especially with added milk, sweeteners, or syrup – should be aware of possible risks, such as high caffeine and sugar intake.
They may also ask their doctor if high consumption of black tea is likely to interfere with the medications they are taking or affect other aspects of their health.