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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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      Jolie Choi

      Having experienced her own extreme transformation process, Jolie strongly believes that staying healthy takes determined and consistent action.

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

      Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

      your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

        Why You Need a Vision

        Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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        How to Create Your Life Vision

        Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

        What Do You Want?

        The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

        It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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        Some tips to guide you:

        • Remember to ask why you want certain things
        • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
        • Give yourself permission to dream.
        • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
        • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

        Some questions to start your exploration:

        • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
        • What would you like to have more of in your life?
        • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
        • What are your secret passions and dreams?
        • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
        • What do you want your relationships to be like?
        • What qualities would you like to develop?
        • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
        • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
        • What would you most like to accomplish?
        • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

        It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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        What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

        Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

        A few prompts to get you started:

        • What will you have accomplished already?
        • How will you feel about yourself?
        • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
        • What does your ideal day look like?
        • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
        • What would you be doing?
        • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
        • How are you dressed?
        • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
        • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
        • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

        It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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        Plan Backwards

        It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

        • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
        • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
        • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
        • What important actions would you have had to take?
        • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
        • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
        • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
        • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
        • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

        Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

        It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

        Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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