Benefits Of Black Tea For Skin, Hair And Health
Do you know the health benefits of black tea? Among others, black tea benefits include good heart health, reduced risk of cancer, and healthy skin and hair. Read on to know more black tea facts.
By Arun Sharma
As the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung — probably the first human to taste tea — took his first sip and let his breath out, he could feel a sensation of warmth and energy coursing through his veins. And, at that very moment, tea was destined to become the world's favourite beverage.
It's now more than 4,500 years since tea was discovered. During this time, along with enjoying its invigorating flavour and taste, the world has gradually come to realise the health benefits of black tea. And, as modern research has revealed more advantages of black tea, more and more people have taken to the habit of drinking this healthy beverage.
What is black tea?
For the next few centuries after tea was discovered by Emperor Shen Nung, people only drank green tea. However, with its popularity spreading to different parts of the world, it became difficult to ship green tea leaves to far off regions. So, a method was devised to retain the freshness and flavour of tea. This method included passing the green tea leaves through four processes:
What emerges after the tea leaves pass through these four processes is called Black tea.
While the term 'tea' is usually used to refer to black tea in the West; in Japan and China, saying 'tea' would mean green tea.
Types of black tea
Like green tea, there are different types of black tea available in the markets across the world today. These varieties are usually named after the region where they are grown. Some of the most consumed types of black tea are:
- Darjeeling black tea
- Assam black tea
- Nilgiri black tea
- Ceylon black tea
- Turkish black tea
- Yunnan black tea
- Dianhong cha
- Lapsang Souchong
Each of these black tea varieties has a unique taste and flavour — while the Darjeeling tea is soft and aromatic, the Assam tea is strong and slightly bitter.
Black tea blends
Along with true black tea, various black tea blends are also available. Some of the famous black tea blends are:
- Masala chai
- English breakfast
- Irish breakfast
- Earl Grey
- Chocolate tea
- Blackcurrant tea
Nutritional value of black tea (1 cup)
- Energy 2kcal
- Carbohydrate 0.72mg
- Saturated fatty acids, total 0.005g
- Copper 0.024mg
- Iron 0.05mg
- Magnesium 7mg
- Phosphorus 2mg
- Potassium 89mg
- Selenium 0mcg
- Sodium 7mg
- Zinc 0.05mg
- Folate, total 12mcg
- Riboflavin 0.034mg
- Caffeine 48mg
Data based on Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Health benefits of black tea
- Boosts heart health: An erratic lifestyle, unhealthy food habits and high stress puts us at the risk of developing heart disease. However, in the Determinants of Myocardial Infarction Onset Study, it was found that those consuming 2 cups of black tea on an average showed lower rates of mortality from cardiovascular events. Another study by de Koning et al also showed that drinking 3 to 6 cups of black tea reduced the risk of death from cardiac disease. Another advantage of black tea consumption is the reduced risk of developing hypertension, as found in a study in the Taiwanese population.
- Lowers ovarian cancer risk: Ovarian cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in both India and the world. Since it is diagnosed fairly late, the number of women dying from the disease is quite high. Gao et al found in their study that the polyphenols present in black tea inhibited ovarian cancer cells, thus reducing the risk of developing the disease.
- Reduces risk of diabetes: Diabetes not only makes an impact on lifestyle and productivity, but also affects vital organs of the body such as the kidneys, eyes and nervous system. According to the International Diabetes Federation (2017), in India, around 72 million adults suffer from diabetes (roughly 8.8% of the adult population). A health benefit of drinking black tea is the stimulation of pancreatic beta cells which improves insulin response as found in a study by Bryans and colleagues. In another research by Greenberg et al, it was found that consuming 2 cups of black tea resulted in a reduction in the incidence of diabetes.
- Boosts immunity: Our immune system protects us from various diseases and infections and keeps us healthy. However, various factors can weaken our immune system and make us fall sick often. Worrisome, isn’t it? But, Gostner and colleagues found that consuming black tea can help stimulate the immune system. In another study, Chowdhury et al found that theaflavins in black tea inhibited the entry of hepatitis C virus.
- Reduces risk of Parkinson’s disease: A progressive neurological condition, Parkinson's disease causes muscle rigidity and tremors. To date, a cure for this unfortunate condition is yet to be found, although research is still going on. After examining data related to a large number of patients, Tan and colleagues found that drinking black tea reduced the risk of developing Parkinson's.
- Lowers cholesterol: One of the perils of an increasingly busy life is poor dietary habits. Consuming foods with high levels of saturated fat and trans-fat increases cholesterol and affects the heart. Many scientific studies have revealed that drinking black tea has cholesterol-lowering effects as it reduces triglyceride level and increases fat excretion.
Black tea benefits for hair
While drinking black tea keeps you healthy and prevents the development of several health issues, you can also use it to get long, lustrous hair. Here are some black tea benefits for hair:
- Prevents hair loss: The caffeine in black tea decreases the level of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. This is the hormone which is responsible for hair loss.
- Promotes hair growth: Black tea rinses can help promote hair growth. While drinking black tea decreases the effect of DHT on hair follicles, doing black tea rinses stimulates the production of keratin, a key material that makes up the hair, and increases the size of the hair root.
- Softens hair and adds shine to it: Rinsing the hair with black tea not only promotes hair growth, but also makes the hair soft, and imparts shine to it. It also darkens the colour of greying hair.
Black tea benefits for skin
- Protects from skin infections: The catechins and flavonoids present in black tea help the body fight against microbes and germs.
- Prevents skin cancer: The antioxidants present in black tea neutralise the effect of free radicals. They also inhibit the growth and survival of cancer cells.
- Fights ageing: Applying iced black tea to the face not only helps moisturise the skin but also prevents the development of wrinkles.
Which black tea is the best?
Of all the tea consumed globally, 75 per cent is black tea. According to a survey commissioned by the Tea Board of India, consumption of tea was highest in the Northern and Western parts of India followed by the East and South.
Black tea is grown in all the tea-producing countries of the world. Yet, there are only a few varieties which are considered to be of high quality. These include:
- The Darjeeling black tea, which is also called the Champagne of all types of tea.
- Grown at near sea level, the Assam tea has a strong flavour and dark colour.
- The Keemun tea grown in Qimen county of China has a floral fragrance. It is grown on mountains covered with forests, due to which the plants aren’t exposed to much sunlight.
- Ceylon tea is grown in five districts of Sri Lanka. The tea grown in each district has a unique flavour, ranging from light to strong.
How to brew the best black tea
All that is required to brew a refreshing cup of black tea is clean water, a kettle/saucepan, a teapot and your favourite type of tea leaves.
- Heat the water to about 93 to 100 degrees Celsius.
- Measure 2g of tea leaves for each cup of water and put it in the teapot.
- Pour the hot water into the teapot and place the lid on it.
- Allow the tea leaves to steep for 2 to 4 minutes. And, your tea will be ready.
Black tea side effects
Consuming black tea has many health benefits. But, as with everything else, there are disadvantages of black tea as well. Let's look at some of them:
- Presence of heavy metals: Depending on where the tea was grown, it may be contaminated with heavy metals such as lead, aluminium, cadmium and arsenic. So, pay attention to the source of the tea you are purchasing.
- Increase in caffeine level: All kinds of tea contain caffeine. Drinking excess amount of black tea can increase caffeine levels in the body which can lead to difficulty in sleeping, anxiety, restlessness, increased urination and headache.
- Interference with medication: The caffeine in black tea can also interfere with the actions of some medication.
- Reduced absorption of iron: The tannins present in black tea interfere with the absorption of iron, especially if black tea is consumed with meals. So, those suffering from anaemia should be cautious about their tea intake.
The benefits of black tea are many, and research into its properties is continuing. So, you can be sure that you will get to know many more advantages of black tea in the future. Meanwhile, you can keep sipping your cup of black tea and enjoy this healthy beverage.
About the author:
Written by Arun Sharma on 31 Oct 2019
The author was associated with the healthcare industry before becoming a full-time writer and editor. A doting father to two preteens, he believes in experiential learning for his children. Also, he loves mountain trekking and nature trips.
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