Black tea is just one variety of tea from the Camellia sinensis plant. There are a number of variables determining its many subtle nuances, that once recognized, no longer seem so subtle. For example, where the tea plant is grown, when it’s harvested, how the leaves are picked, which pickings are used, and the processes in which they are oxidized then filtered into your cup. All of these factors contribute greatly to the ranging flavor profile that exists in the black tea variety.
What is Black Tea?
I will dive into the depths of black tea another day, but for now here’s a quick overview: Black tea is, by far, the most popular variety of tea accounting for roughly three quarters of the tea consumption throughout the globe. The leaves are typically picked and rolled then allowed to oxidized before they are dried.
Tannins in Black Tea
Thanks to its high oxidation, black tea has the highest tannin levels. Tannins are actually a type of antioxidant and they are released as organic matter in the leaves break down. Similar to red wine, the tannins contribute largely to black tea’s bolder flavor and dark color. The “tannic quality” is usually described as the pairing of a sharp bitterness with a strong astringency, which imparts a sensation of body and strength to the tea.
Black Tea Caffeine
Another component adding to the flavor of black tea is its higher caffeine content. Black tea contains about 40 to 75 milligrams of caffeine per cup, the most among the tea varieties.
(Most cups of coffee range from 100 to 200.)
Health Benefits of Black Tea
Black tea and all its character is one of my favorite tea choices, which is why I am exited to share just how healthy it is! Here are some benefits:
- Mental alertness. The caffeine helps to keep alert; however, in tea, the caffeine releases slower than in coffee, which translates to a prolonged effect with less “crash;”
- Evidence suggests that people who consume black tea have a lower risk of heart attack. In the event of a heart attack, drinking tea for a least a year has shown to increase the chances of survival. Joseph Vita, M.D., a researcher at the Boston University School of Medicine, conducted a study of 70 people with coronary arteries that were at least 70 percent blocked. After drinking black tea instead of other beverages for four weeks, blood vessel functioning improved by nearly 50 percent;
- Cancer prevention and/or suppression. Black tea contains a high concentration of antioxidants that according to researchers at Rutgers University caused colorectal cancer cells to destroy themselves without harming normal cells. Similarly, these antioxidants have been linked to the prevention and/or suppression of ovarian cancer;
- Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease. Large-scale studies suggest that people who drink caffeinated beverages have a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease. In women, moderate consumption of caffeine (about one to four cups black tea daily) seems to provide the most reduction in risk. For men, the effects seem to be more dose related (the more the better). Drinking black tea also appears to reduce the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease among people who smoke;
- Women who drink black tea seem to have an 8% lower risk of developing kidney stones;
- Black tea raises blood pressure and thus aids to prevent dizziness upon standing up (orthostatic hypotension) in older people.
As I mentioned before, black tea is much more than just “black tea”. At The Elephant Room we offer an array of premium black tea varieties ranging from your classic black, to the rare Darjeeling, and flavorful blends in between. Check out our menu of black teas, and then stop buy and start developing your black tea palate.