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Last Updated on October 14, 2017

Black Tea: Origins, Health Benefits and How It Differs From Green Tea

Black Tea: Origins, Health Benefits and How It Differs From Green Tea

Some like it hot, and some like it cold, but cultures around the world agree: black tea is an incredible beverage. From Chinese tea ceremonies to British tea-time, this drink has shaped the way that people live their lives for centuries. Although black tea may look humble as it steeps in your cup, it has a storied past and impressive list of health benefits associated with it.

Black tea has a rich past

Black and green teas actually come from the same plants: Camellia sinensis assamica and Camellia sinensis sinensis.[1] Green and black tea are processed differently, which results in distinct color and flavor profiles.

China has been brewing green and oolong teas for thousands of years, but black tea didn’t come about until the 1730s. After a green tea factory’s production was held up, green tea leaves started to oxidize.[2] The oxidization led to the distinct flavor and color of black tea, and the accident became one of the most popular drinks worldwide.

There was lots of money to be made in the tea trade in the 1700s, but green tea didn’t retain its quality as well in transport as black tea. This is why most British tea culture revolves around black tea, while Eastern traditions favor green tea.

The West’s insatiable desire for tea led businessmen to take tea plants and seeds from China so that they could start tea plantations in other countries. India was among the most well-known of these locations, and tea became one of the main imports from the British East India Company.[3]

You’ve probably had black tea before, but you may not have realized it

Iced tea, sun tea, Earl Grey tea, Ceylon tea, and English breakfast tea are all variants of black tea. Black tea is served hot, cold, sweetened, and unsweetened. People often add milk, sugar, lemon, or honey to their drinks.[4]

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All the varieties of black tea have different flavors, and taste preferences can define a region. The American South, for example, is known for its sweetened iced tea. The British have hot tea and pastries in the mid-afternoon. In Turkey, black tea is served hot in small glasses with the option to sweeten it with sugar cubes.

Many black teas are named for their region of origin. For example, Ceylon tea comes from Sri Lanka, and Darjeeling tea comes from India. Other designations, such as sun tea, refer to the manner in which the drink was prepared.[5]

Black tea vs. Green tea

As two of the most popular varieties of tea, you might be wondering what the difference between black and green tea is. As previously mentioned, green tea is made from unoxidized tea leaves, while black tea is fully oxidized. Green tea leaves are dark green in appearance, and when they are brewed, they produce a light greenish or golden drink.

The oxidization process gives black tea leaves their dark color. When brewed, the resulting beverage is a dark reddish-brown color. This is why black tea is often referred to as “red tea” in China. Green tea has a light flavor, while black tea tends to have a more robust taste.

Flavor can also change depending on the way that the leaves are prepared. Some of the highest quality green and black teas are loose-leaf varieties, which produce a better taste than bagged teas. Matcha, tea made from powdered leaves, is another fine variant.[6] Most often, matcha is made from green tea leaves, but it is possible to get black matcha as well.

Tea bags were an accidental invention that became popular for people on the go, but if you’re a tea aficionado, it’s worth looking at the quality of the leaves packaged in that manner.[7] Often these are finely chopped, and they tend to be low-quality compared to loose leaf varieties.

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Black tea contains 25-48 mg of caffeine per eight ounce glass compared to green tea’s 25-29 mg per cup.[8] Depending on the quality of the leaves and the preparation methods, green and black tea can have roughly equivalent amounts of caffeine, but you’re more likely to get a bigger jolt from drinking black tea. These teas have significantly less caffeine that coffee, which averages about 95-165 mg per cup.

5 Amazing Health Benefits of Drinking Black Tea

1. It’s rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, catechins, thearubigins, and theaflavins. Antioxidants can reduce illness and signs of aging by preventing damage to your DNA.[9] These same antioxidants may lower your risk for getting certain types of cancer.[10]

2. It’ll wake you up. Black tea contains caffeine and theophylline, both of which have a mild stimulant effect.[11] Some sources suggest that consuming black tea can prevent osteopoerosis, and Type II diabetes but more research is necessary to verify those claims.[12]

3. Black tea is good for your teeth. As long as you don’t pour yourself a glass of sugary sweet tea, you’ll experience improved dental health when you drink black tea. Black tea prevents plaque build up and kills bacteria that causes cavities.[13]

4. It’s an excellent way to support cardiovascular health. Reaching for a cup of tea can ward off headaches, lower cholesterol, and relieve high blood pressure.[14] Regular consumption of black tea is also known to prevent atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).

5. It supports your digestive health. Surprisingly, black tea can also have a soothing effect on the digestive system.[15] The tannins in black tea make it valuable for treating diarrhea and other digestive conditions.

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People have been using the stems and leaves of black tea for medicinal purposes for generations. As more research on black tea is published, we’ll learn even more about its potential benefits.

Here’s how to brew yourself a cup of delicious black tea

Now that you know a little bit about the history of black tea and its possible health benefits, you may be eager to reach for a cup. There are so many ways to prepare black tea, but brewing it for consumption while its hot is one of the most popular methods.

The quality of your ingredients matters

Since the primary ingredient of tea is water, you’ll want to make sure that you use good water to brew. Some tap water has a strong chlorinated flavor, which will impact the quality of your final product. Choose filtered water if you can.

There are different grades of tea leaf. The cheapest and lowest quality teas are found in flat round or rectangular bags with finely chopped leaves similar to the ones below.

    Although you can produce a serviceable cup of tea from such bags, it will have astringent and bitter qualities that you don’t find as often in higher grades of tea.

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    If you are using a teabag, opt for one filled with loose leaves instead of chopped pieces. A pyramid-shaped bag will give leaves a greater chance to steep and infuse your water.

    Loose leaf teas that you put into a infuser or teapot will make a better drink than most bagged varieties. When you buy loose leaf tea, it’s almost always going to be a higher quality leaf. The infuser allows water to flow freely around the tea to bring out the delicate flavor notes.

      When it comes to a good cup of tea, timing is everything

      Many people over-heat their water when brewing tea today, but it’s unnecessary. Heat water until it’s almost to a boil. Add one teaspoon of leaves or one tea bag to the water, and allow it to steep for 1-2 minutes. Allowing the leaves to steep for longer will produce a bitter and unpalatable concoction.

      Enjoy a calming and refreshing drink

      After you’ve removed your leaves, you can enjoy your tea. Some people choose to add a small amount of sweetener to their cup of tea, but that depends on personal preference. While it is delightful with honey or lemon, black tea can also be enjoyed without any additives.

      Black tea is the perfect pick-me-up during a busy day, but you can also serve it with meals or a mid-afternoon snack. This drink’s versatility, the multitude of health benefits associated with it, and the cultural impact that it has had around the world make it a great addition to your kitchen.

      Reference

      [1]Teatulia Organic Teas: What is Black Tea?
      [2]Art of Tea: History of Black Tea
      [3]East India Company: Timeline
      [4]The Spruce: An Introduction to Black Tea
      [5]Republic of Tea: What is Black Tea?
      [6]Health: 7 Things You Should Know About Matcha
      [7]UK Tea and Infusions Association: The History of the Tea Bag
      [8]The Mayo Clinic: Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more
      [9]Smart Cooky: 10 Spectacular Black Tea Benefits You Should Know: For the Love of Chai
      [10]Web MD: Black Tea: Black Tea
      [11]WebMD: Black Tea
      [12]Livestrong: Is Black Tea Good for You?
      [13]Lifehack: 11 Benefits of Black Tea that You Didn’t Know About
      [14]Medical News Today: Black Tea: Health Benefits and Risks
      [15]Organic Facts: 5 Benefits of Black Tea

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      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

      Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

      But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

      Sight – Visual Stimulation

      The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

      1. Maximize your exposure to light.

      Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

      Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

      2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

      Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

      Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

      Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

      3. Take note of your environment.

      Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

      By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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      Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

      What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

      4. Engage in conversation.

      Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

      Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

      Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

      Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

      5. Listen to upbeat music.

      Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

      Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

      Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

      If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

      6. Work your nose.

      Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

      If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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      Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

      Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

      If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

      7. Have a good breakfast.

      Start off with the most important meal of the day.

      Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

      Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

      Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

      20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

      8. Drink lots of water.

      Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

      So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

      How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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      Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

      3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

      9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

      Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

      Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

      Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

      25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

      Touch – Tactile Stimulation

      Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

      10. Splash cold water on your face.

      Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

      This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

      5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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      11. Use acupressure.

      Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

      Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

      12. Get moving.

      Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

      And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

      You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

      Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

      Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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