Most commonly of all teas is black tea. Typically when asked, what is black tea? we answer by saying tea without milk. This is not a true representation as we get many types of tea, most of which are recommended to take without milk. Therefore what is black tea? Such as white tea it’s produced from the camellia sinensis plant…or more commonly the tea plant. In fact all “true teas” are produced from this plant they are just processed differently which gives them their unique characteristics. So the answer is to find out how black tea is produced.
Processing Black Tea
It starts off when the farmer harvests the leaves of the plant. Typically small/baby to medium size leaves are taken. Once harvested they are placed out in the sun to wilt and dry. Next is the oxidisation process where firstly the leaves are bruised by shaping and rolling them to let out their natural oils. When the oils are released it starts the oxidisation. Black tea is the most oxidised tea type which leads to its strong, deep flavour and why it’s black in color. This process can be anywhere between 14 and 30 days. Finally it’s heated to remove any moisture in the tea.
Benefits of Black Tea
Energy Boost and Alertness
Primarily black tea is taken for a boost of energy to take on the day ahead of you, similar to coffee. Alertness is also related to black tea through theophylline. Here is one study that shows this http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21172396. But in comparison to coffee black tea contains less caffeine hence why many pick coffee over black tea. This is not a good choice. High levels of caffeine effect our bodies in a negative way and can cause some symptoms, for example headaches. However black tea provides around half the amount of coffee but can have a more positive effect. A certain amount of caffeine will give us a boost of energy but too much can cause us to feel worse shortly after. Have you ever had that feeling? This is cause by taking large amounts of caffeine which boosts our energy levels, then it starts to leave our bodies and decrease that stimulating effect which gives us that bad crash feeling. Black tea has less caffeine that will give a boost of energy but not so much caffeine to affect us more than we really need. If you think you need lots of caffeine to boost your energy then your body may be too tolerant to it. Regular intake makes our bodies resist the effects so we think we need more caffeine! In this case you need to take a break from taking caffeine.
Black tea contains Antioxidants which help greatly in stopping cells from dying and/or being damaged. This can help in the prevention of cancers although not much research shows that black tea has lowered risks of some cancers. Significant black tea benefits that are associated, are that black tea lowers the chance of heart attacks occurring and clogged arteries by reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
Although high blood pressure is not a good thing and black tea can raise it, its shown that it last only for short periods and is only increased slightly. A short increase in blood pressure can be a positive. With people who feel a little light headed after getting up is a sign of low blood pressure and therefore black tea aids with that.
Lowers LDL Cholesterol
Scientific studies have also shown that drinking black tea can have an impact on LDL cholesterol levels by reducing them. This cholesterol is known as the bad one as it causes the increased amount of cholesterol in your arteries. High LDL levels will increase the risk you getting heart disease. Therefore if you have high LDL cholesterol levels considering this black tea. Scientific evidence – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14519829
More benefits have been heard of such as lowering the risk of kidney stones, strengthening bones and prevention of Parkinson’s disease. More studies are required to further associate these benefits with black tea.
Want some Black Tea?
Here are a few tea’s that are readily available:
Twining’s Earl Grey Classic Blend
Long favourite black tea with a story behind it. This blend of tea started off in 1831 where Twining’s was requested to duplicate a tea that a Prime Minister loved. This is where it got its name. It’s flavoured with lemon and bergamot.
Lipton Black Tea – Natural Energy
Another popular brand is Lipton’s. Their Natural Energy tea takes black tea to a new level with a different process of pressing high quality fresh leaves from the camellia Sinensis in order to release their natural oils and essences. Lipton is one of few brands that state their black tea caffeine quantities. This tea states to deliver 75mg of caffeine per 8 fluid ounces.
Teapigs Loose Leaf Chai Tea
This tea was created through the popularity in India of its Masala Chai tea, black tea mixed with herbs and spices. It’s an Assam black tea, flavoured with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom pods and cassia.
Teavana – Darjeeling de Triomphe Black Tea
High quality black tea that delivers on purity and floral tastes. Great for relaxing anytime of the day. Its color represents to the eye a black and greenish tea which delivers its weaker but soothing characteristics.
Brewing the Best Black Tea
Water Temperature – Due to its production processes it can withstand higher water temperatures than white tea. Therefore there it does not need much time at all to cool the water. Recommended temperature of water is 195 – 205 Fahrenheit or 90-96 Celsius.
Loose Leaf Tea Quantity – With most teas around 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup is efficient. Stronger tea goers may want to add one extra or steep it a little longer.
Steeping Time – Important to many teas is how long you are going to steep your tea for. Longer periods can produce stronger flavours but also may cause some bitterness tastes. Steeping for around 1 to 2 minutes would be efficient.
Facts & FAQ
- Black tea is known as red tea (Hong Cha) in Asia for its reddish color when infusing.
- True type of tea. It comes from the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis)
- Most oxidised type of tea
- Caffeine in black tea contains the highest levels of all true tea types
- Strong flavoured tea ideal for strong flavours so it can keep its taste
- Associated with reducing the risk of a heart attack and helping cardiovascular health
- Adding milk to black tea can attach antioxidants to it making them less absorbable this decreases the potential black tea benefits it offers. Adding fresh lemon juice does the opposite which maximises the potential health benefits of black tea
- Most produced tea type in the world
- Does black tea have caffeine? Yes the quantities of caffeine in black tea is anywhere from 40 to 90mg per cup
- Is black tea good for you? Although oxidised significantly great health benefits of black tea are presented when consumed. Just be aware of the caffeine in black tea which is lower than coffee but still not low.