Everyone knows about the benefits of green tea for the human body. But in fact, black tea, brewed from whole natural leaves, is no less useful than its “relative” green tea!
Black tea is the second most consumed beverage worldwide after water. For the preparation of black tea, the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis are used, and then they are often mixed with other plants to get different tastes, such as Earl Gray – a classic English tea with bergamot and many others.
Black tea has a more tart and rich taste and color than other teas, and also contains more caffeine than other teas, but less caffeine than coffee. Although some varieties of green tea may contain the same amount of caffeine as black tea.
Black tea also offers a variety of health benefits because it contains antioxidants and compounds that can help reduce inflammation in the body. It is very useful to drink black tea with additives, for example black tea with chamomile promotes good sleep and improves digestion. In this article we will learn: what is black tea, the benefits and harms to health.
The benefits of black tea for the body
Consider 10 scientifically proven beneficial properties of black tea for the body. Note that all these properties are relevant only if you drink tea without sugar.
1. Black tea has antioxidant properties
Antioxidants are known to provide many health benefits. Eating antioxidant-rich foods can help remove free radicals and reduce cell damage in the body. This can ultimately help reduce the risk of a chronic illness.
Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant found in certain foods and drinks, including black tea. Groups of polyphenols, including catechins, theaflavins, and arabubins, are the main sources of antioxidants in black tea and can contribute to overall health.
One study examined the role of teflavins in black tea as a possible factor that reduces the risk of developing diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol. The results showed that theaflavins lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels ( 1 ).
Another study examined the role of catechins from green tea extract on body weight. It was found that those who consumed 690 mg of catechins from tea daily for 12 weeks showed a decrease in body fat ( 2 ).
Despite the fact that antioxidants are easiest to consume from dietary supplements, the best and most effective way to consume them when the body gets the most benefit is food and drinks (juices, herbs, black tea and green tea). In fact, some studies have shown that taking antioxidants in supplement form can even be harmful to your health ( 3 ).
Black tea contains a group of polyphenols with antioxidant properties. Consuming antioxidants can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve overall health.
2. Black tea is good for the heart
Black tea contains another group of antioxidants called flavonoids that benefit heart health. Along with tea, flavonoids can be found in vegetables, fruits, red wine and dark chocolate.
Regular consumption of flavonoids can help reduce many risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and obesity.
One randomized controlled study found that drinking black tea for 12 weeks significantly reduced triglycerides by 36%, lowered blood sugar by 18%, and reduced the LDL / HDL plasma ratio by 17% ( 4 ).
Another study found that those who drank three cups of black tea per day had an 11% lower risk of developing heart disease ( 5 ).
Adding black tea to everyday life is an easy way to incorporate antioxidants into your diet and potentially reduce the risk of future health complications.
Black tea contains flavonoids that are good for heart health. Studies have shown that regular consumption of black tea can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
3. May lower “bad” LDL cholesterol
The body contains two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the body. One of them is low density lipoprotein (LDL), and the other is high density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is considered a “bad” lipoprotein because it carries cholesterol to cells throughout the body. Meanwhile, HDL is considered a “good” lipoprotein because it carries cholesterol away from your cells and to the liver for extraction. When there is too much LDL in the body, cholesterol can build up in the arteries and cause wax deposits called plaques. This can lead to problems such as heart failure or stroke.
Fortunately, some studies have shown that drinking tea can help lower LDL cholesterol.
One randomized study showed that drinking five cups of black tea per day lowers LDL cholesterol by 11% in individuals with low or slightly elevated cholesterol levels ( 6 ).
Another randomized three-month study in 47 people compared the effects of traditional Chinese black tea extract and placebo on LDL levels. The results showed a significant decrease in LDL levels in those who drank black tea compared to placebo, without any undesirable side effects. Researchers concluded that black tea helped improve cholesterol in people at risk of heart failure or obesity ( 7 ).
LDL and HDL are the two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the body. Too much LDL in the body can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that black tea can help lower LDL levels.
4. May improve bowel health
Bacteria in the gut play a huge role in health. This is because the intestines contain trillions of bacteria that directly affect the formation and functioning of immune cells. It is believed that 80% of the immune system is primarily found in the intestines ( 8 ). It is very important that the bacteria in the intestines (beneficial and harmful) are in balance.
Studies have shown that bacteria in the gut can play an important role in reducing the risk of certain health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and even cancer ( 9 ).
The polyphenols found in black tea can help maintain a healthy intestine by promoting the growth of good bacteria and inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria such as Salmonella ( 10 ). In addition, black tea has antimicrobial properties that kill harmful substances and improve intestinal bacteria and immunity, helping to restore the walls of the digestive tract.
In the intestines are trillions of bacteria and most of the human immune system. Polyphenols and antimicrobials found in black tea can help improve bowel health and immunity.
5. May help lower blood pressure
Hypertension affects approximately 1 billion people worldwide. This condition may increase the risk of heart and kidney failure, stroke, vision loss, and heart attacks. Fortunately, changes in your diet and lifestyle can lower your blood pressure.
A randomized controlled trial examined the role of black tea in lowering blood pressure. Participants drank three cups of black tea daily for six months. The results showed that those who drank black tea had a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared with the placebo group ( 11 ).
However, studies on the effect of black tea on blood pressure are mixed. A meta-analysis of five different studies in which 343 participants participated examined the effects of drinking black tea over four weeks on blood pressure. Although the results found some improvement in blood pressure, the researchers concluded that the results were not significant ( 12 ).
Drinking black tea daily, as well as other lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress levels, can benefit those with high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can cause many health complications. Some studies have shown that drinking black tea on a regular basis can help reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure, but the research is mixed.
6. May help reduce the risk of stroke
A stroke can occur when a blood vessel in the brain either blocks or ruptures. Strokes are the second leading cause of death worldwide. Fortunately, 80% of “hits” can be prevented. Namely, a healthy diet, moderate physical activity, optimal blood pressure and smoking cessation can help reduce the risk of stroke.
Interestingly, studies have shown that drinking black tea can also help reduce the risk of stroke. During one ten-year study, almost 75 thousand people were studied. It was found that those who drank four or more cups of black tea per day had a 32% lower risk of stroke than those who did not drink tea ( 13 ).
Another study examined data from nine different studies, including those involving nearly 200 thousand people. Researchers found that people who drank more than three cups of tea (black or green tea) per day had a 21% lower risk of stroke compared with people who drank less than one cup of tea per day ( 14 ).
Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Fortunately, in many cases it can be prevented. Studies have shown that black tea can help reduce the risk of stroke.
7. May lower blood sugar
Elevated blood sugar can increase the risk of health complications, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and depression. It has been shown that consuming large amounts of sugar, especially from sweetened drinks, increases blood sugar and the risk of type 2 diabetes ( 15 ). When you eat sugar, the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin to transport sugar into the muscles, which must be used to generate energy. If you consume more sugar than your body needs, excess sugar is stored as fat.
Black tea is a great unsweetened drink that has been found to help improve insulin use in the body.
One in vitro study examined the insulin-improving properties of tea and its components. The results showed that black tea increased insulin activity by more than 15 times. Researchers concluded that several compounds in tea showed an improvement in insulin levels, in particular catechin, called epigallocatechin gallate ( 16 ).
Another mouse study compared the effects of black and green tea extract on blood sugar. The results showed that both of them lowered blood sugar and improved sugar metabolism in the body ( 17 ).
Insulin is a hormone that is released when you consume sugar. Black tea is a great unsweetened drink that can help improve insulin use and lower blood sugar.
8. May help reduce cancer risk
There are more than 100 different types of cancer, and some of them are not preventable. However, the polyphenols found in black tea can help prevent the formation of cancer cells.
In one in vitro study, the effect of tea polyphenols on cancer cells was analyzed. It showed that black and green tea can play a role in regulating the growth of cancer cells and reducing the development of new cells ( 18 ).
Another study analyzed the effects of polyphenols in black tea on breast cancer. Black tea has been found to help overcome the spread of hormone-dependent breast tumors ( 19 ).
Although black tea should not be considered an alternative cancer treatment, some studies have demonstrated the potential of black tea to help reduce cancer cell growth.
Clarification of the relationship between black tea and cancer cells requires more research involving people.
Black tea contains polyphenols, which can help fight cancer cells in the body. Although drinking black tea does not cure cancer, it can help reduce the development of cancer cells.
9. May improve attention span
Black tea contains caffeine and an amino acid called L-theanine, which can improve alertness and concentration. L-theanine increases alpha activity in the brain, which leads to relaxation and improved focus.
Studies have shown that drinks containing L-theanine and caffeine have the greatest effect on focus due to the effect of L-theanine on the brain ( 20 ). Perhaps this is why many people report more stable energy after drinking tea compared to other caffeinated drinks such as coffee.
Two randomized trials examined the effects of black tea on alertness and alertness. In both studies, black tea significantly increased accuracy and self-esteem among participants compared to placebo ( 21 ).
This makes black tea a great drink if you want to increase energy levels and focus without a lot of caffeine.
Black tea can help improve focus because it contains caffeine and an amino acid called L-theanine. This amino acid increases alpha activity in the brain, which can help improve focus and alertness.
10. Black tea is available and easy to make.
Black tea is not only beneficial for the body, it is also very easy to make for yourself.
To make black tea, boil water first. If you are using tea bags purchased at the store, simply add the tea bag to the mug and fill it with hot water.
When using leaf tea, use 2-3 grams of tea leaves for every 180 ml of water. Let the tea brew in water for 3-5 minutes, depending on your taste preferences. For stronger tea, use more tea leaves and brew for a longer period of time. After soaking, remove the tea leaves or tea bag from the water and enjoy the great taste and aroma of black tea.
Making black tea is simple and takes only a couple of minutes. You can use tea bags or tea leaves and brew tea according to your preference.
Black tea, green tea or white tea – which is better
Black, green and white tea have the same source of tea, which is the tea plant. Tea processing leads to different colors, tastes and health benefits of tea. After harvesting, white tea is the least processed, and black tea is the most processed. White tea is the easiest, you can just pick a tea leaf from the plant and brew it. Meanwhile, green tea is dried and roasted or evaporated depending on the variety. Black tea is made using oxidized leaves, which means they were deliberately allowed to fade to get a brown color after harvest.
The level of antioxidants in brewed black tea on the ORAC scale is 1.128, while green tea is slightly higher – 1.253. So green tea definitely wins when it comes to antioxidants, but the difference is not as strong as you might expect.
Black, green and white tea share the benefits of tea due to its polyphenols, which scientists have shown to have antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and immunomodulating effects.
Green tea usually contains less caffeine than black tea. Studies have shown that green and white tea have the same levels of catechins and polyphenols, which contribute to better health ( 22 ).
The harm of black tea to the human body
The harm of black tea is usually associated with a high caffeine content in it. But negative effects can occur only if you drink black tea in excessive quantities. The optimal dose of black tea is up to 5 cups per day. Therefore, there is no need to overdo it, and your body does not face any harm, only good!
Also, one of the unpleasant effects of drinking black tea in large quantities is the formation of dependence on caffeine. Therefore, drink black tea in moderation. Although this rule applies in principle to all food products.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, then the maximum dose of black tea per day will be lower for you – no more than 3 cups (about 200 milligrams of caffeine), this is considered safe. However, consuming more can be unsafe and increase the risk of miscarriage, sudden infant death syndrome and other negative consequences, including symptoms of caffeine withdrawal in newborns and weight loss at birth ( 23 ).
If you have any health problems or are currently taking medication, consult your doctor before drinking black tea.
There are a number of possible side effects of black tea.
- Black tea may reduce iron absorption. If you do not have iron deficiency, this is probably not a concern. However, if you have low levels of iron, ferritin, hemoglobin, it is recommended to drink black tea between meals, and not immediately after a meal, in order to reduce unwanted interactions.
- Black tea can also react with nutritional supplements, including bitter orange, cordyceps, calcium, magnesium, caffeine supplements, ginseng, echinacea, red clover, and creatine, folic acid, and melatonin.
- Sometimes black tea can cause allergies. Therefore, if you are prone to allergies, before drinking any new type of black tea, do a sensitivity test or drink a small amount.
Black tea is a great option if you are looking for a low-calorie, unsweetened drink with less caffeine than coffee or energy drinks.
It has a strong, unique flavor and contains many antioxidants that can provide several health benefits. These include improving cholesterol, improving bowel health, and lowering blood pressure.
So, we have studied the benefits and harms of black tea. And they came to the conclusion that any healthy product is useful if consumed in moderation. So drink black tea to your health! It is as healthy as green tea. But do not forget about the maximum dose – no more than 5 cups per day, and no more than 3 – if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.