Black tea is made of oxidized tea leaves. It offers a stronger flavor and is one of the most commonly produced types of tea. Because tea manufacturers produce more black tea than any other, it’s easier to find the decaffeinated versions.
What Is Black Tea
Black tea, like all teas, is harvested from a shrub called Camellia sinensis. To make tea, only the newest growth is plucked from the plant.
Unlike white tea, which is made from the newest shoots when they are still covered in a fine growth of white hair, black tea is made from ripe leaves.
The leaves are then withered and rolled to break up the outer surface of the leaf. Once the leaf surface is broken, the leaves undergo controlled oxidation to ripen and strengthen the flavor of the tea. Oxidation and fermentation are different steps in tea making.
Per experts at Eli Tea of Detroit, if you’ve ever eaten a slightly over-ripe banana and noticed how much sweeter the flesh is, you understand oxidation.
Per Emily Han, tea expert for Thekitchn.com what’s known as black tea in the western world does not undergo fermentation.
Western black tea is known in China as red tea. Chinese fermented black tea is actually called Pu-ehr tea. For purposes of this article, “black tea” refers to oxidized but un-fermented tea.
Black tea offers a much stronger flavor than other leaves, and lends itself to blending.
Types of black tea popular around the world include Darjeeling, grown in the Himalayas, and Nilgiri. Nilgiri is a very tasty option for iced tea. Major and well-known blends of black tea include Earl Grey and Irish or English Breakfast tea.
Another commonly used tea, Orange Pekoe, actually refers to the leaf size. This designation is specific to teas from India or Sri Lanka.
Health Benefits of Black Tea
Many coffee drinkers who need to reduce their caffeine intake but don’t care for decaffeinated coffee consider a switch to black tea.
Per caffeine experts at the Mayo Clinic, coffee drinker hoping to wean themselves from caffeine will cut their caffeine intake by more than half by switching from eight ounces of coffee to the same amount of black tea.
Not only is the caffeine in black tea lower than coffee, but black tea contains antioxidants.
Per nutrition authorities at WebMD.com, studies show that women who regularly drink black tea may have a lower risk of ovarian cancer than those who do not.
Additional health benefits of black tea indicate a lower risk of diabetes, kidney stones, osteoporosis and lung cancer.
Is black tea good for you? There are tenuous links between black tea consumption and reduced risk of certain conditions. However, it’s important to note that these connections have not been confirmed by large scale studies.
Health Risks of Black Tea
Recent research in Iran and Great Britain has indicated that there are health risks related to black tea consumption. Per experts, an Iranian study points to an increased risk of esophegal cancer among people who drink their tea very hot.
This temperature range runs from 149 degrees Fahrenheit to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. There was no connection between the amount of tea consumed and the risk of esophegal cancer; only the temperature.
This risk can be reduced by allowing your tea to sit for four minutes before drinking.
Additionally, a study published by the University of Glasgow linked heavy tea drinking to a higher risk of prostate cancer development.
This study took nearly forty years to complete, and indicated that tea drinkers who consume more than seven cups of black tea each day have a 50% higher risk of prostate cancer diagnosis. Drinking six or fewer cups of black tea each day showed no increased risk.
Black Tea Around The World
India’s tea tradition began in 750 BCE, but it wasn’t documented until the 16th century. Later, British merchants tried to grown Chinese tea plants in northeast India, but finally agreed that indigenous Indian tea plants were a better choice for the region.
Per tea experts from Tea Culture of the World, Chai tea is black tea boiled to a very strong concentration and mixed with Indian spices.
The first written reference to Chinese tea is found in a Chinese dictionary from 350 A.D., where it was described as a “beverage made from boiled leaves.”
Tea experts at Ten Ren Tea recommend blending black tea with other flavors. Because black tea has a strong flavor alone, it’s an excellent foil for ginger or lemon.
What Is Black Tea Good For?
Per tea experts at Cinnamon Vogue, black and green tea are both loaded with antioxidants. While green tea offers a higher concentration of some, black tea offers a higher dosage of others.
Ultimately, the decision to drink black tea vs. green tea or any other tea depends on taste. If you don’t enjoy the flavor of green tea, you won’t drink it.
Black tea offers a stronger flavor and can be supplemented with milk or a touch of sweetener.
How To Prepare Black Tea
- Bring fresh water to a rolling boil in a tea kettle.
- Place two to three grams of tea leaves into your cup or your infuser.
- Pour the boiling water over your leaves, and cover the cup. Keep the cup warm in a towel.
- Steep the tea from three to five minutes, tasting every thirty seconds to make sure the taste is to your liking.
- When the taste is right, strain out the leaves or remove the infuser.
Whole tea leaves can be steeped more than once, but you’ll need to increase the time. After three steepings, the leaves should be discarded.
Black tea is a great option for anyone looking to increase their antioxidant intake. This easy to find beverage offers substantial health benefits when drunk in moderation. Drinking a cup of black tea each day is a great habit to build.