Black tea offers us many health benefits due to its antioxidant content. We, as Sri Lankans(Ceylon), have a habit of drinking black tea for centuries. Even I drinks around 2 -3 cups of black tea every day. There is also a popular belief that Sri Lankans have higher immunity than people from other countries due to our diet, including black tea. Being heavy black tea drinkers may have hinted that black tea is also helped us boost our immunity.
I got curious about what more benefits could black tea can offer us. So, I researched and gone through many research papers and found some exciting black tea drinking benefits that you never knew.
Black tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis. However, there are different types of black tea according to the region they are produced, the harvesting method, and processing methods.
After tea leaves are harvested, it goes through wilting, bruising, rolling and most importantly oxidizing processes. This tea leave oxidation is the process that differentiates black tea from other tea varieties such as white teas and green teas. This oxidation process gives black tea benefits that we cannot take from green tea or other non-oxidized tea.
Black tea is a beverage high in antioxidants and other bioactive compounds that provide numerous health benefits. The following are 22 evidence-based benefits of black tea that I will present today.
- Loaded with antioxidants
Black tea is loaded with antioxidants such as polyphenols. The types of polyphenols in black tea are catechins, theaflavins, and thearubiginsŁuczaj W, Skrzydlewska E. Antioxidative properties of black tea. Vol. 40, Preventive Medicine. Academic Press Inc.; 2005. p. 910–8.. What polyphenols do is act as antioxidants in our bodies. In simple terms, antioxidants fight with the foreign bodies inside our body, such as viruses, harmful bacteria, germs, etc.
Antioxidants help to reduce inflammation which is the reaction of our body’s immune system to an enemy.
Inflammation is the root cause of many chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Some studies have found theaflavins in black tea can reduce the risk of diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, and obesityImran A, Butt MS, Arshad MS, et al. Exploring the potential of black tea based flavonoids against hyperlipidemia related disorders. Lipids Health Dis. 2018;17(1). doi:10.1186/s12944-018-0688-6.
The best way to take antioxidants is through the foods you consume. You can take it either fruits and vegetables you consume, or you can go for your favourite black tea drink for antioxidants.
- Help to lose weight
Several studies prove that black tea can help you lose weight.
Scientists did one research with 111 participants who have found that drinking 3 cups of black tea every day for three months can significantly reduce weight and waist circumference compared to other beverages with the same amount of caffeine as black teaBøhn SK, Croft KD, Burrows S, et al. Effects of black tea on body composition and metabolic outcomes related to cardiovascular disease risk: A randomized controlled trial. Food Funct. 2014;5(7):1613-1620. doi:10.1039/c4fo00209a. Researchers have attributed the weight loss effect of black tea to flavones in black tea.
Also, a study done using rats has found that catechins in tea can reduce body fatNagao T, Komine Y, Soga S, et al. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(1):122-129. doi:10.1093/ajcn/81.1.122. These researchers hope that black tea may help burn belly fat and reduce body weight.
Also, you can add lemon to black tea to boost the effect. Black tea polyphenols and lemon polyphenols together enhance abdominal fat loss.
- Good for heart
Flavonoids in black tea, which is another antioxidant, prove benefits for the heart. Flavonoids are found in many fruits and vegetables, such as grapes, cabbage, and black tea. It can reduce risk factors contributing to cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and obesity.
One study where participants drank about 3 cups of black tea per day had reduced the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by 11%Smith SC. Multiple Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Mellitus. Am J Med. 2007;120(3 SUPPL. 1). doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2007.01.002.
Black tea can also protect our heart by normalizing the blood cholesterol levels, essentially reducing the LDL cholesterol level.
Drinking black tea will eventually help you reduce the chances of getting heart diseases and help you live long and healthy.
- Improve alertness and focus
Black tea has a compound that we all know, which is known as caffeine. Caffeine is why you go for black tea when you want to feel fresh or when you need to keep awake during the nighttime. Caffeine helps to concentrate and focus. This does by increasing the blood flow to the brain.
Unlike coffee, black will not overstimulate your cardiovascular system and will not cause side effects such as sweating, irritation, or seizure. These side effects are associated with coffee which has a much higher caffeine content than black tea.
Other than caffeine, black tea has a compound called L-theanine, which is an amino acid. This compound helps you to concentrate on a task entirely but in a more relaxed mannerDodd FL, Kennedy DO, Riby LM, Haskell-Ramsay CF. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of caffeine and L-theanine both alone and in combination on cerebral blood flow, cognition and mood. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015;232(14):2563-2576. doi:10.1007/s00213-015-3895-0. Some studies have found that regular consumption of black tea also reduces Parkinson’s diseaseChen SQ, Wang ZS, Ma YX, et al. Neuroprotective effects and mechanisms of tea bioactive components in neurodegenerative diseases. Molecules. 2018;23(3):512. doi:10.3390/molecules23030512.
- You will feel energetic
You will feel energetic as the blood flow inside your body will increase with black tea consumption due to caffeine in black tea. L-theanine might also help you to feel energetic as it improves focus, calmness, and relationRasheed Z. Molecular evidences of health benefits of drinking black tea. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2019;13(3):1-3.. Black tea is one of the best alternatives for energy drinks. It will help you to alleviate the lethargy that you feel on a dull day.
- Help to relieve stress
Black tea may also help you to recover from daily stress. This is due to a drop in stress hormone cortisol levels. Research done with 75 young, healthy males has found that those who drink black tea could relax more efficiently after a stressful situation than those who consume a placeboSteptoe A, Gibson EL, Vounonvirta R, et al. The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: A randomized double-blind trial. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2007;190(1):81-89. doi:10.1007/s00213-006-0573-2. You might have already experienced this effect of black tea; however, this is my favourite remedy to relieve stress after the day’s work.
- Lower cholesterol level
In our body, cholesterol transport using lipoproteins. There are bad lipoproteins and good lipoproteins. Usually, good lipoproteins are HDL. This is because HDL transports cholesterol from our cells to the liver, which means HDL will reduce the cholesterol level in the blood.
LDL is a bad type of cholesterol. This is because LDL can build up in our arteries, causing plaque that blocks our arteries; if the block occurs in an artery supplying blood to the heart, a heart attack or ischemic heart disease can occur. It can also cause stroke when blood flow to the brain is blocked.
But the good news is some studies have found black tea can reduce the bad cholesterol or LDL level in our body. As mentioned before, researchers found drinking black tea to reduce LDL cholesterol level by 11%Smith SC. Multiple Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Mellitus. Am J Med. 2007;120(3 SUPPL. 1). doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2007.01.002.
In another Japanese study, researchers have compared Chinese black tea consumption with a placebo in 47 individuals. The participant’s LDL cholesterol levels have dropped significantly without causing any undesirable effects. Overall black tea can help reduce the elevated cholesterol levels in individuals at high risk for cardiovascular diseasesFujita H, Yamagami T. Antihypercholesterolemic effect of Chinese black tea extract in human subjects with borderline hypercholesterolemia. Nutr Res. 2008;28(7):450-456. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2008.04.005.
- May prevent kidney stones
Black tea has a compound called caffeine which has a diuretic effect. Because of this, caffeine can excrete excess calcium and urine, which is one of the causes of kidney stones. However, this effect is seen if you take caffeine in moderation. In other words, you may see the impact if you consume 1-2 cups of black tea per day.
Most importantly, you have to maintain the daily recommended fluid intake, around 2 litres of water for a healthy individual. The researchers have found the beneficial effects mainly for green tea.
However, black tea may have the same results, but the data lacks a clear conclusionBarghouthy Y, Corrales M, Doizi S, Somani BK, Traxer O. Tea and coffee consumption and the risk of urinary stones—a systematic review of the epidemiological data. World J Urol. 2021. doi:10.1007/s00345-020-03561-w.
- Good for the Gut
Our gut is the home for trillions of bacteria which are both good and bad. These bacteria help us in many ways. They help to ferment fibres in our food and will prevent some cancers. These bacteria can also reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity.
However, all of these beneficial effects come from good bacteria that live in our bodies. If your gut has more bad bacteria, there will be harmful consequences. Gut bacteria can also affect your thoughts and even define what kind of a person you are, according to novel studies.
So, what we should do is increasing the number of good bacteria in our bodies. To do this, you need to take foods that can feed specifically good bacteria. Black tea is one of those beverages. Other fermented foods can also help to increase good bacteria levels in our bodies.
Black tea also has antimicrobial properties that can remove harmful bacteria that help to improve gut microbesHervert-Hernández D, Goñi I. Dietary polyphenols and human gut microbiota: A review. Food Rev Int. 2011;27(2):154-169. doi:10.1080/87559129.2010.535233. However, researchers should conduct more research to determine the exact effect of black tea on gut health.
- Keep your hair shiny
Black tea provides many health benefits, but also it has some benefits for appearance as well. Black tea rinse claims to enhance hair colour and shine. Also, it may promote hair growth.
Black tea can enhance our hair colour by the same compounds that give black tea its colour. The compounds responsible are tannins in black tea (theaflavins and thearubigins). Black tea rinse may also help to reduce the grey hairs.
Antioxidants and caffeine in black tea promote hair growth by keeping your scalp and hair healthy. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove these factors, but these are experiences of the users who do black tea risk regularly.
- Reduce high blood pressure
High blood pressure is a significant problem that affected about 1 billion people worldwide. We should reduce high blood pressure because it is a considerable risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, the number one killer globally, taking around 18 million lives each year.
Researchers became interested in many dietary factors that can use to lower blood pressure. Black tea is one of them. One study has found that drinking 3 cups of black tea for six months has significantly reduced blood pressureHodgson JM, Puddey IB, Woodman RJ, et al. Effects of black tea on blood pressure: A randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(2):186-188. doi:10.1001/archinte.172.2.186. But results from other studies are a bit controversial.
According to a meta-analysis that researchers did with 343 participants, drinking 4 cups of black yea for four weeks improves blood pressure, but the reduction is not significantTaubert D, Roesen R, Schömig E. Effect of cocoa and tea intake on blood pressure: A meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(7):626-634. doi:10.1001/archinte.167.7.626. So, we need more consistent scientific data to say that black tea can reduce blood pressure. But still, it might be beneficial to drink back tea.
- Relieve diarrhoea
Black tea is also found as an effective treatment for diarrhoea. In a study participating 120 children, black tea tablets can improve frequency, volume, and consistency of bowel movementsDoustfatemeh S, Imanieh MH, Mohagheghzade A, et al. The Effect of Black Tea (Camellia sinensis (L) Kuntze) on Pediatrics With Acute Nonbacterial Diarrhea: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Evidence-Based Complement Altern Med. 2017;22(1):114-119. doi:10.1177/2156587216654600.
Even if the study was conducted for a black tea supplement, drinking black tea might provide the same benefits. The effect might be due to caffeine in black tea. However, it is essential to remember the limits. Usually, please take only 1 -2 cups of black tea if you suffer from diarrhoea.
- Lower the sugar level
Blood sugar is an important parameter that every one of us should be concerned about. Having high blood sugar levels can damage many organs in our body. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
You might develop kidney diseases, liver diseases, and even cardiovascular diseases if you keep your blood glucose levels uncontrolled. The cost of maintaining those diseases will also be higher if you are not careful about it.
Black tea is an excellent non-sweetened alternative for all your sweetened beverages. More importantly, black tea is found to increase the insulin sensitivity of our body in 15 foldsAnderson RA, Polansky MM. Tea enhances insulin activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50(24):7182-7186. doi:10.1021/jf020514c! Isn’t it the most important news?
The reason for this effect might be a compound in black tea called epigallocatechin gallate, according to the researchers. Now you can lower the high blood sugar levels by drinking your favourite drink without even thinking about it. Black tea is only one thing; however, make sure you follow your diet and medications according to your healthcare provider.
- Relieve asthma symptoms
Asthma is a chronic illness that can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. There are several herbal treatments to relieve asthma, and black tea is one of themWelsh EJ, Bara A, Barley E, Cates CJ. Caffeine for asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;2010(1). doi:10.1002/14651858.cd001112.pub2.
The compound that helps in this cause is caffeine. Caffeine can help to relax your airways and may support the better function of the lungs. This way, you can relieve asthma symptoms acutely.
- Fight cancer
There are more than 100 types of cancers in the world. Some of them are preventable, and others are not. Some researchers have found that black tea can prevent cancer cell growth and reduce cancer cells’ new development.
Especially in breast cancers, black tea is beneficial to reduce the spread of hormone-dependent breast cancersWay T Der, Lee HH, Kao MC, Lin JK. Black tea polyphenol theaflavins inhibit aromatase activity and attenuate tamoxifen resistance in HER2/neu-transfected human breast cancer cells through tyrosine kinase suppression. Eur J Cancer. 2004;40(14):2165-2174. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2004.06.018. The compounds responsible for this action are polyphenols in black tea.
Some studies have found that black tea can reduce skin, breast, prostate, and lung cancers. Also, women who regularly drink black tea have a lower risk of getting ovarian cancers.
However, you should not take black tea as an alternative to treat any cancer. However, drinking your favourite cup of black tea every day may help alleviate cancer cell growth.
- Protect from Osteoporosis
Research suggests that women who regularly drink black tea have a lower chance of getting osteoporosis because these women are found to have stronger bones than those who drink less black teaSun K, Wang L, Ma Q, et al. Association between tea consumption and osteoporosis: A meta-analysis. Med (United States). 2017;96(49). doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000009034. Mainly it can lower the risk of getting hip fractures.
- Reduce risk for stroke
Stoke is the 2nd most dangerous killer in the world. A stroke can happen by blocking a blood vessel that transports blood to the brain or a blood vessel rupture. However, most strokes are highly preventable. If you can change your lifestyle by eating a healthy diet, regularly exercising, preventing smoking, then you can save yourself from the killer.
One study conducted for ten years with around 75000 participants found that people who drink four or more cups of black tea per day have lowered the risk of getting a stroke by 32% compared to those who did not drink black teaLarsson SC, Virtamo J, Wolk A. Black tea consumption and risk of stroke in women and men. Ann Epidemiol. 2013;23(3):157-160. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.12.006.
Another study has found that drinking more than 3 cups per day can lower the risk of getting cancers by 21%. Now here is an excellent reason for you to drink black tea regularly. But keep in mind your limits, and do not go over 4 -5 cups of black tea for your safety.
- Boost immune system
Black tea has a compound called tannins. Tannins give the astringent taste to black tea. It provides the taste, but it can also help fight against enemies of our body such as viruses. Influenza, hepatitis, dysentery is some of them. Also, alkylamine antigens help to boost our immune systemGostner JM, Becker K, Croft KD, et al. Regular consumption of black tea increases circulating kynurenine concentrations: A randomized controlled trial. BBA Clin. 2015;3:31-35. doi:10.1016/j.bbacli.2014.11.007.
- Good for oral health
Did you ever think that drinking black tea can prevent getting tiny holes in your teeth? Researchers have found that black tea can kill or suppress cavity growth, causing bacteria Lactobacillus and Streptococcus mutansRamadan ARM, Bakeer HA, Mahrous MS, Hifnawy TM. Influence of black tea on Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus levels in saliva in a Saudi cohort. J Taibah Univ Med Sci. 2019;14(2):179-186. doi:10.1016/j.jtumed.2019.02.008.
This means that drinking black tea will protect you from gum diseases and prevent cavities from forming.
However, the effects may vary according to how much you are taking care of teeth. Dentists also claim that black tea is an excellent alternative for soft drinks, which is not perfect for oral health.
- Fights against common colds and influenza infections
Influenza and the common cold caused by infections can even progress to life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia or encephalitis.
However, scientists have found that black tea can be beneficial for the common colds and influenzas. The silent fighter behind this is catechins in tea, reducing the viral load and activityFurushima D, Ide K, Yamada H. Effect of tea catechins on influenza infection and the common cold with a focus on epidemiological/clinical studies. Molecules. 2018;23(7). doi:10.3390/molecules23071795. Black tea catechins can increase our immunity against the viruses that cause common colds. So, drinking tea may protect you from getting the influenza virus as well as common colds.
- Good for skin
Did you know that back tea can be beneficial for your skin also? It can nourish the skin with vitamins such as B2, E, and C and minerals such as potassium, zinc, and magnesium, preventing the signs of premature ageing such as wrinkles and preventing skin infections and pimples.
Black tea is helpful when you directly apply them on your skin, maybe as a scrub. It might also reduce the under-eye circles you got from the stressful work all day. This herbal treatment can provide antioxidants for your skin and may even act as a mild sun protector.
- Natural zero-calorie drink that is the easiest to make
Black tea is a non-calorie beverage that does not have macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, or proteins to provide calories unless you add some sugar or milk. It is an excellent alternative for sugar-sweetened beverages that spike blood sugar levels and add calories to our bodies.
Most importantly, black tea is straightforward to make as a drink. All you have to do is boil some water and then add some tea leaves or tea bags. Wait for about 5 -10 minutes until the tea has steep into the water. Now you can enjoy your favourite cup of tea, which is the easiest to make!
In conclusion, black tea may provide you with many health benefits. Black tea can provide antioxidants, protect your heart, lower cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, keep you alerted and energized, prevent form cancers, osteoporosis and helping you to get glowing skin.
Even though you get these benefits by drinking 3 – 4 cups of black tea per day or less, you might not get these benefits if you take black tea in overdoses. Instead, you will suffer from other consequences. So, drink your black tea in safe amounts and enjoy its benefits!