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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

      Gone through a few heartbreaks and lost hundreds of friends but I am still happy with my life.

      11 Health Benefits of Cucumber Water (+3 Refreshing Drink Recipes) Put Down Your Pizza and Find Your Healthy Diet Challenge Buddy By Using “Foodstand” Ditch Your Banana and Kale! Use “The Blender Girl” To Find Your Fun and Tasty Smoothie Recipes If You Exercise but Sit a Lot, You’re Still Unhealthy Walk While You Work, You’ll Be 10X Healthier

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      Last Updated on March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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