Black tea is made from the leaves of the shrub Camellia Sinensis. Oolong, Green and White tea are also made from the leaves of the same plant. The difference is the way the leaves are fermented. Assamese tea shrubs have large leaves whereas Chinese tea plants have smaller leaves. Assamese tea plant leaves are mostly used for making black tea. The term black tea refers to the color of the oxidized leaves, though the tea brew itself is of red colour. Black tea can retain its flavour for many years whereas green tea loses flavour within one year. It is a classification of post fermented teas and it accounts of 90% of all tea sold. Black tea can be unblended or blended with other varieties of tea leaves. Amongst the blended tea you have Earl Grey Tea, English Breakfast Tea, Irish Breakfast Tea and Masala Chai.
Once the tea leaves are harvested they are withered by blowing air over the leaves. After this the leaves can be processed in two ways. The first way is named CTC (Cut, Tear, Curl). CTC method is used for medium quality and low quality tea leaves. The second method is named Orthodox. In orthodox method the withered tea leaves are rolled through cylindrical rolling table. It produces a mix of whole, broken and particle tea.
After this treatment the leaves are oxidized under controlled temperature and humidity. This is called fermentation. The type and color of the tea depends on the level of fermentation. Low oxidised tea is called Green Tea where as fully oxidised tea leaves are called Black Tea. Partially oxidized tea is called Oolong Tea. After this the oxidised tea leaves are dried to arrest the oxidation process. Now the tea leaves are separated into different grades (Whole Leaves, Brokens, Fannings and Dust). These grades are as per the oxidised leave size. Grades also depend on various other criteria. Tea can also be flavoured with different herbs. They can also be blended, before packaging.
Black Tea Benefits
- Stay Alert – Black tea contains caffeine. So many people drink it to remain alert and energetic. It also contains a stimulating chemical named theophylline. Both caffeine and theophylline can increase heart beat rate which makes you remain alert. Though black tea has lower caffeine than coffee. The amino acids found in the tea improve concentration. Black tea also works as stress buster. Our bodies produce a hormone called Cortisol which causes stress. The chemicals in the tea reduce the level of cortisol thereby lowering the feeling of stress.
- Diabetes – Regular drinking of black tea lowers the risk of diabetes, kidney stones and high cholesterol.
- Oral Health – It reduces plaque formation and prevents bacteria growth in the mouth. So the tea prevents cavity and tooth decay. It also prevents bad breath. Polyphenols and Tannin found in the tea kill the cavity causing bacteria. They act as antibiotic.
- Digestive Problems – Black tea contains tannin which have soothing and positive effect on the digestive system. Its anti inflammatory properties cure digestive ailments. Patients of diarrhoea can drink black tea to sooth the intestinal tract.
- Lowers Cholesterol – The polyphenols in the tea reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). LDL is responsible for high blood pressure and stroke. It also prevents hardening of arteries. So drinking two to three cups of black tea is good got cardiovascular health.
- Antioxidant – Black tea is loaded with antioxidants named polyphenols. These antioxidants are different from those found in various fruits. Free radicals are naturally produced in our body. The free radicals harm body cells and cause various deceases. Free radicals also make a person look older than her age. The polyphenols found in black tea destroys these free radicals. So black tea protects our body from various deceases. The antioxidants keeps the skin young looking.
- Strong Immune System – Our immune system fights various types of deceases and infections and protects us from falling sick. It is a fundamental requirement of good health. A person with weak immune system easily catches deceases like cough & cold, typhoid, influenza etc. Black tea contains Tannin, Catechins and Alkylamine Antigens. These chemicals boost your immune system. They also have anti inflammatory properties.
- For Asthma Patients – It brings relief to asthma and respiratory tract patients. The chemicals in the tea dilate the air passage of the patient thereby making it easier to breath.
- Breast Cancer – It is helpful in preventing breast cancer. Both green tea and black tea have properties to prevent breast cancer. It is especially beneficial for women who are in pre menopausal stage. The chemical named Theaflavin (TF 2) is known to destroy the abnormal cells in the body, which may cause cancer.
- Weight Loss Drink – Black tea has almost no calorie, if taken without sugar. So it is a good substitute of cola and soda beverages. The tea also boosts your body metabolic rate. Due to this you naturally burn more body fat cells. This results in weight loss.
Skin Benefits of Black Tea
Black tea is especially good for your skin. It contains Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B2 and is also rich in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, Polyphenols and Tannin.
- Black tea protests our skin from harmful effect of pollution and stress. It makes the skin look younger.
- Polyphenols and Tannin in the tea help in regeneration of new skin cells. It rejuvenates the skin.
- It moisturises the facial skin and helps in preventing pimples and acne. It makes the skin look smoother, glowing and plump. It also removes cellulite of the skin.
- It reduces puffiness of eyes. Put moist tea bag on your closed eyes for 20 minutes. Your eyes will feel fresh and the puffiness will be reduced.
- Brew a cup of black tea, cool it to room temperature and wash your face with this cold tea. This works as a toner and keeps your skin free from blemishes. You can also use a cotton pad, soak it with black tea and rub it on your face and neck. You can use this method to clean your skin as often as you want.
- If you have shaved your legs and they are feeling itchy, put a cotton pad soaked with cold black tea on the affected area. You will feel immediate relief.
- Are your feet smelly and sweaty? Don’t worry. Take a tub of water and pour few cups of freshly brewed black tea in the water. Soak your feet in this water for 30 minutes. The tannin in the tea will remove all the bad smell!!