Black Tea Health

For thousands of years, the Chinese people have been drinking tea because of its refreshing and soothing effects. Like all three of the major Asian teas in the market, black tea comes from the plant called Camellia sinensis. But the difference between the tea types lies in how the leaves are processed, not on where they come from.

In the case of black tea, the leaves are first dried and then fermented. Black tea undergoes full oxidation, which actually accounts for its aromatic and rich taste. Compared to green tea and oolong or black dragon tea, black tea has a fuller taste and tastes better with age.

black tea

However, black tea is not only known for its intriguing flavor (comparable to wine!). New research suggests that it may be a major contributor of health-promoting nutrients in the U.S. diet.

Black tea health benefits lies in the presence of flavonoids in tea. Before, scientists believed that the process of fermentation changed the beneficial flavonoid polyphenol in black tea into another form, which is not thought to have any beneficial effects at all. However, newer studies showed that polyphenol or not, black tea health benefits can certainly do you a lot of good.

Below are the top five black tea health benefits enjoyed by those who love their cup of tea every morning:

Antioxidants

This is actually the one black tea health benefit you can get from drinking tea. Antioxidants are substances commonly found in vegetables, fruits, and beverages such as tea. Because of their disease-fighting abilities, antioxidants have been the subject of various scientific studies investigating their many benefits, from heart disease to cancer prevention.

Think of antioxidants as the rust-oleum paint that you put on your outdoor furniture to keep it from rusting. Just as oxygen in the air around us cause iron to rust, the oxygen particles in our blood can sometimes be destructive. In scientific circles, they call these highly reactive oxygen-containing substances as free radicals, and they are the reason why our body undergo massive cellular damage as we age or undergo degenerative diseases like cancer and heart illness.

The function of black tea health benefit antioxidants is to seek out these free radicals and destroy them. In so doing, these black tea health benefit antioxidants help protect your body from the ravages of aging and the effects of pollution.

Caffeine

Unless you consider yourself a coffee connoisseur, one black tea health benefit that you would surely appreciate is its caffeine content. Black tea does the job that your coffee does – that is, to give you a little push as you wake up in the morning after pulling up an all-nighter. But while coffee has the unfortunate reputation of causing heart palpitations because of too much drinking (and hence, too much caffeine), your chance of suffering the same with drinking black tea is nil. That’s because black tea has two to three times less caffeine than coffee. An eight-ounce cup of coffee contains around 135 mg. caffeine, while black tea contains only 30 to 40 mg. per cup.

 

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Black Tea Nutrition

The basis of black tea nutrition is simple but true: Antioxidants promote well-being. The more antioxidants you consume, the better to boost your body’s natural disease prevention processes.

The Camellia sinensis plant where black tea and all other “real” teas come from has leaves rich with antioxidant-acting phytochemicals called polyphenols. This means that black tea nutrition beverages are good sources of antioxidants for your body.

black tea

History records tea as long as four, nearly five, thousand years ago. According to one Chinese legend, the Emperor Shen Nung was boiling water one day when the leaves of a nearby plant fell into the pot. This created the first pot of tea.

In the new millennium, scientific evidence is supporting the link between black tea nutrition and health benefits. Besides polyphenols, black tea nutrition is also a source of several major antioxidants, including flavonoids, which could neutralize the free radicals in the body, helping to maintain healthy cells and tissues. Flavonoids are special phytochemicals found not only in tea leaves, but in apples, onions, and other fruits and vegetables as well.

The majority of flavonoids are released from the tea leaves after 2 minutes of steeping. But the amounts and potency of flavonoids you get from black tea nutrition may depend on the variety, the manufacturing process, and the brewing conditions. Other antioxidants in black tea nutrition include tannins, catechins, theaflavins, and theaburigins. All these antioxidants add to the health benefits in black tea nutrition.

In processing black tea, the leaves of the tea plant undergo four different steps. First, the leaves are harvested and allowed to wither. Afterwards, they are crushed or rolled in order to release the essential oils, polyphenols, and beneficial compounds to coat the surface of the leaves. Then, they are exposed to the air, heat, and humidity in a process called “fermentation” or oxidation, after which, they are allowed to dry.

The oxidation process causes the polyphenols in black tea nutrition to change into the chemical theaflavin, which is the reason why black tea has that brown, reddish color and brisk flavor. When theaflavins bind with other chemicals in black tea, they are transformed into theaburigins which give black tea its characteristic black or dark brown color. But more than lending black tea nutrition its color and flavor, these chemicals are also great antioxidants that help protect the arteries, thus reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

A recent study at the American Heart Association showed just how black tea nutrition could help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Scientists have observed earlier that abnormal dilation of the arteries (a condition associated with stroke and heart failure) is caused by the lessening of nitric oxide production. Black tea apparently has an effect on nitric oxide, maintaining its normal production so the arteries begin to dilate normally.

Black tea is also said to contain fluoride, a compound that helps reduce plaque and prevents tooth decay. In addition, flavonoids in black tea nutrition partially inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron from plant food.

 

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Benefits of Black Tea

Black tea is one of the most popular teas in the world. The English love it and use it as a constant ingredient in many of their breakfast teas. Black tea comes from the same plant that green tea, white, and oolong tea come from. But if you notice, black tea has a distinctively strong flavor and characteristically dark color. How is this so?

Well, you see, the main difference lies in how black tea is processed. While in making green tea, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are first dried and then gently steamed, black tea leaves undergo far more processing steps.

black tea

First, the leaves are withered. Then, they are rolled around to release the beneficial polyphenols present in the leaves. Next, the leaves are left out in the open and exposed to heat and humidity to start the fermentation process. After full oxidation or fermentation is done, the leaves are then dried and packed.

All these processing methods actually account for the uniqueness of black tea. The taste may range from brisk to astringent to delicately fruity, flowery, or even smoky. Often, these differences can be ascertained from the growing regions where the black tea is produced. But regardless of taste, flavor, and color, the benefits of black tea remain constant.

For thousands of years, the Chinese (who are attributed to be the first tea drinkers) have been imbibing this drink for its many health benefits. Green tea, especially, with its refreshing delicate taste, is said to help in overcoming certain diseases from the simplest – e.g. headaches, stomach pains, etc. – to the complex – e.g. heart disease, cancer, arthritis, etc.

Scientists believed that the reason green tea is more beneficial compared to other teas is that the leaves never undergo full oxidation. Because of this, the polyphenols, especially the polyphenol ECGG, remain intact and potent against disease-causing free radicals in the human body. However, more recent studies have shown that while it’s true that full oxidation does break down ECGG, the benefits of black tea are hardly hinged on the present of that chemical compound.

Researchers found that the benefits of black tea are directly associated with certain chemical compounds that give black tea its characteristic fruity flavor and dark color. These compounds, called theaflavins and theaburigins are polyphenols with antioxidant properties that can help rid the body of harmful free radicals.

In a study done at the American Heart Association in New Orleans, researchers also found that the benefits of black tea may include lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke. According to their findings, certain compounds found in black tea help relax and expand the arteries, thus increasing blood flow to the heart and minimizing clogging of the arteries. The eight-week study on the benefits of black tea involved 50 men and women with coronary artery disease. They drank four cups of either water or tea a day for four weeks. The result was that the group who drank black tea produced more nitric oxide – the chemical released by the body that causes the artery to dilate – which accounted for their arteries to dilate normally.

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Chinese Diet Teas: Are They Safe?

Chinese teas have long been considered great for dieters.  In fact, many companies have manufactured and distributed these products labeled “Chinese diet tea” for those who wish to lose weight.  Perhaps the main reason for this production is that many believed that tea by itself carries only 4 calories per serving, and the caffeine in tea is potent enough to increase body function to help burn more calories.

Also, it is believed that the polyphenols in tea seem to aid in the digestion of fat, truly making it a Chinese diet tea.

chinese diet tea

Chinese diet tea, fasting tea, slimming tea, super dieter’s tea, weight loss tea, although they come with somewhat different names, all promote a common message – drink this tea and you will lose weight.  However, many experts noted that what you are actually drinking from these products is a plant based laxative that can cause certain disorders like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fainting, chronic constipation and perhaps even death when consumed in excessive amounts.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) once stressed that the laxative teas and dietary supplements of most concern are those containing one or more of the substances, such as aloe, senna, rhubarb root, buckthorn, castor oil, and cascara.  These products are derived from plants and have been used since time immemorial for their ability to relieve constipation and promote bowel movements.   They are deemed effective for such purposes with occasional use.

When the labeled “Chinese diet teas” are excessively used based on the misconception that frequent bowel movements prevent the absorption of calories that problems tend to occur.  Numerous studies have shown that the laxative-induced diarrhea does not significantly reduce absorption of calories for the reason that laxatives don’t work in the small intestine, where the calories are absorbed.  It rather works on the colon, which is the lower end of the bowel.

Also found out is that when the Chinese diet teas are misused by steeping the tea longer than product labeling recommends can lead to short as well as long term adverse condition.  This is also true when the Chinese diet teas are taken more than the recommended amount.

It has been noted that for those first-time users who drank Chinese diet teas more than the recommended amount, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea are the common disorders to occur and will last for several days.  When these laxatives are used continually, laxative dependency will tend to develop with bouts of chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain as well as constipation.

In the most severe cases, these laxatives can cause fainting, dehydration and serious electrolyte disorders.   As noted, these after-effects of excessive use of Chinese diet teas are most likely to develop in people who are nutritionally compromised due to rigorous weight-loss dieting.

Because of these concerns, the FDA is now considering requiring the manufacturers of labeled “Chinese diet teas” to place warning labels on all of their product stimulant laxatives.  It is also important that those who are using Chinese diet teas for any purpose must read and follow the recommended directions carefully.    The words indicated on the label under “warning” must then be given attention.

 

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