We’ve covered the benefits of green tea, but black tea remains much more popular in the West, accounting for up to ninety percent of sold! As with all teas, black tea is derived from Camellia sinensis, but what sets it apart from its cousins is how it’s produced. Black tea is dried and fermented, causing it to lose antioxidants but creating a much stronger, richer flavor.
Just as you might expect, many of black tea’s benefits actually overlap with green tea’s. It makes sense; all teas are derived from the same plant, so it’s only logical that they’d have largely the same effects. However, the methods of production can lead to some subtle differences and it’s worth exploring the benefits of black tea specifically. Cancer
While the research is inconclusive, it’s thought that the antioxidants in green tea may help in preventing cancer by removing free radicals that otherwise would have contributed to tumor growth. Because black tea is fermented rather than steamed, it contains significantly less antioxidants. That said, its effectiveness in cancer prevention seems to be about on par with green tea’s. A 2005 study in India concluded that black tea can help prevent oral carcinomas.Another study showed that a chemical found in black tea called Theaflavin-2 (TF-2) induces cell death in colon cancer cells, and may be useful in treatment of cancers and conditions with inflammation.
Although its antioxidant properties have beneficial effects, many studies done on tea and cancer risk have been inconsistent. At this time research into black tea’s effect on cancer risk reduction is inconclusive. Cardiovascular Health
As with green tea, antioxidants in black tea can help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque) and heart disease, as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol. A study conducted in 2008 found that black tea consumption can improve endothelium (the inner cell lining of blood vessels) function in patients with coronary artery disease. The improved function can help combat heart disease.
In 2010, a study conducted on over 37,000 participants over the course of 13 years found that those drinking more than six cups a day had a 36% reduced risk of heart disease. Those drinking three to six cups per day had a 45% reduced risk.Stress & Attention
Black tea may be beneficial in reducing stress. A 2007 study showed that black tea lowered concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol in those drinking four cups a day, as well as an increase in a subjective feeling of relaxation.
Drinkers of tea often report feeling more relaxed and focused. An amino acid found in black tea, L-theanine, may help with relaxation, focus and memory retention. The relaxing effect of L-theanine means it can help with managing insomnia, stress reduction and as a concentration aid. Some research indicates it may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.Immune System
All teas contain polyphenol substances called tannins which help strengthen immune function. Tannins found in black tea can stimulate activity of white blood cells and increase immune response, preparing the body to defend itself against infectious microorganisms. One study found that tea drinkers’ immune responses were five times faster than coffee drinkers.
L-theanine is thought to be the key component of tea’s immunological benefits. The liver breaks it down into ethylamine, which stimulates activity of gamma-delta T cells—the body’s first line defenders against infectious microorganisms. Skin Health
The anti-inflammatory quality of tea can help reduce swelling and erythema (redness), alleviating symptoms of acne. Antioxidants in teas can also help prevent cell oxidation which damages skin and causes accelerated aging. It’s not established whether drinking tea is enough for beneficial effects, or whether a topical ointment is necessary to improve skin condition. Caffeine
Many individuals and even manufacturers claim that black tea contains higher caffeine content than green tea, but studies have shown more variance between individual preparations than types of tea. Although the actual caffeine amount overlaps with green tea, it’s best to take the listed amount at face value. 200-300mg per day is considered a safe amount of caffeine for healthy adults. 500mg or more a day can lead to adverse reactions such as anxiety and abnormal heart patterns.
Pregnant women should limit caffeine consumption to 200mg a day, as it can affect absorption of iron and folic acid.Done? Why not read more?Other articles you might like to seeAbout Me
I am a licensed nurse with a passion for any and all kinds of teas, and an interest in what possible health effects drinking tea might have. Have a cup of your favorite flavor and join me as I sift through leaves of literature, learning more about my favorite drink!