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Black Tea: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

Many of us cannot survive without one cup of tea per day. Tea is one of the most popular beverages all over the globe. Black tea is made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis belonging to the family Theaceae. It grows abundantly in countries like India, China, Sri Lanka Japan, and Nepal.1 Tea originated in China. Emperor Shen Nong, a skilled ruler and scientist from China, accidentally discovered tea. A leaf from an overhanging tea plant fell in boiling water in his garden. The emperor tasted the infusion and loved it so much that he started researching it more2. The different types of tea based on processing are oolong tea, green tea, and black tea.1 Let us look at some of the health benefits of black tea. 

black tea benefits

Nutritional Value: 

Black tea also contains the following nutrients: 

Nutritional Component Value 
Energy 1 kcal 
Water 99.7 g 
Carbohydrate 0.3 g 
Magnesium 3 mg 
Iron 0.02 mg 
Potassium  37 mg 
Sodium  3 mg 
Phosphorous 1 mg 
Manganese 0.219 mg 
Zinc 0.02 mg 
Copper 0.01 mg 
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.014 mg 

Table 1: Nutritional value in 100g of black tea3 

Black tea contains several bioactive components like polyphenols, amino acids, catechin and alkaloids like caffeine.1 

According to a new study, persons who drink at least two cups of black tea every day had a nearly 13% reduced chance of dying from any cause than those who don’t. From my knowledge, people who drink more tea are believed to have a decreased risk of cardiovascular illness, heart disease, and stroke.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Black Tea: 

Various studies show that black tea may possess the following properties: 

  • It may have anti-cancer properties 
  • It may act as antibacterial 
  • It may nourish the skin 
  • It may lower the cholesterol levels 
  • It may improve the heart health 
  • It may be an antioxidant4 

In my experience, black tea without sugar may in fact lower blood sugar and help your body regulate the digestion and absorptions of glucose better. Studies have shown that black tea may help healthy and pre-diabetic persons with their blood sugar levels right after meals.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses of Herb for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential uses of black tea are: 

1. Potential use of black tea for cancer 

Black tea may fight against colon, ovarian, breast and lung cancers due to the compounds like polyphenols and catechin. The bioactive compounds may cause programmed cell death of cancer cells without harming the normal cells of the human body. Polyphenols present in black tea may reduce or eliminate the body’s cancer-causing substances (carcinogens). 4 However, more clinical studies are required to check the effect of black tea on cancer cells. Therefore, you must consult your doctor for proper treatment instead of self-medicating if you have cancer. 

2. Potential use of black tea for skin health 

Drinking black tea may nourish the skin due to the presence of minerals like zinc, potassium, magnesium, vitamins B2, C and E and polyphenols and tannins. Caffeine in black tea may help to reduce the risk of skin infections like pimples. Drinking black tea may reduce wrinkles and premature ageing.4 However, further studies are required to check if black tea benefits skin health.  

3. Potential use of black tea to enhance heart health 

Black tea may contain flavonoids and these bioactive compounds may reduce the risk of heart diseases. These flavonoids may prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL- low-density lipoprotein). Additionally, flavonoids may reduce clots, and manganese may improve cardiac muscle function.4 The presence of these compounds may enhance heart functioning. Further studies are yet to confirm if black tea can improve heart health. However, you must seek medical help if you experience symptoms of heart disease instead of self-medicating. 

4. Potential use of black tea for bacterial infections 

Black tea may possess antibacterial activity against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Bioactive compounds like polyphenols may inhibit the growth of some bacteria. 4 However, more research is yet to be done to confirm the antibacterial effect of black tea. You must consult your doctor if you suspect a bacterial infection instead of self-medicating. 

5. Potential use of black tea to improve the immune system 

Black tea contains compounds like tannins that may help to fight against infections like influenza. Alkylamine antigens in black tea may help boost the immune system. 4 However, further studies are required to check if black tea can improve the immune system in humans. 

6. Potential use of black tea for oral health 

Research showed that black tea might reduce the risk of oral cancers. Additionally, compounds like polyphenols and tannins in black tea may reduce the risk of tooth decay and bad breath risk by preventing oral bacteria. 4 However, more studies are required to check if black tea may benefit oral health. If you have any oral diseases consult your doctor and do not self-medicate.  

7. Potential use of black tea for hair 

Caffeine in black tea may reduce the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which may cause hair loss. Additionally, antioxidants in black tea may help in healthy hair growth. 4 However, further research is required to confirm The effects of black tea on hair.  

8. Potential use of black tea to improve brain function 

Caffeine in black tea may improve mental focus and concentration by increasing the blood flow in the brain. A study showed that black tea might reduce the stress hormone cortisol and improve memory functions. 4 However, more study is required to check the effect of black tea on brain function. If you have any brain disorders consult your doctor and do not self-medicate.  

Though studies show the benefits of black tea in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of black tea on human health. 

The second biggest cause of mortality worldwide is stroke, which occurs when blood arteries transporting blood to the brain get blocked. One potential strategy to lower your risk of stroke is by regular intake of black tea. According to studies, those who drink at least two cups of black tea each day may have a 16% lower risk of stroke.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Also Read: Decoding Caffeine: How Much is Too Much?

How to use Black Tea? 

You can prepare black tea in the following way: 

  • First, take some water and boil it vigorously. 
  • Then, add some tea powder and let it boil for some more time. 
  • Finally, remove it from the flame and keep it aside for 2-3 minutes for the flavour to develop. 
  • After that, you can add some sugar, depending on your taste. 
  • Now, strain the tea, and you can have it hot! 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking black tea in large quantities or any herbal supplements. Likewise, do not discontinue or replace an ongoing modern medical treatment with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Side Effects of Black Tea: 

Drinking black tea in moderate amounts is usually considered safe. A high amount of black tea may show the following side effects due to caffeine content: 

  • It may cause headache 
  • It may cause irregular heartbeat5 
  • It may stunt the hair growth 4 

If you experience any side effects from black tea, immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms. 

Also Read: Spearmint Tea Benefits: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

Precautions to Take with Black Tea: 

The following precautions shall be taken before drinking black tea: 

  • Consuming a high amount of black tea may be detrimental for pregnant mothers. It can hurt the mother’s and the infant’s health. Hence, pregnant mothers should be cautious before drinking black tea. 
  • Drinking a high amount of black tea is unsafe for lactating mothers since it can pass into the breast milk and may cause irritation and increased bowel movements in the infant. 
  • People with anxiety disorder should be cautious while drinking black tea as caffeine in black tea may worsen anxiety. 
  • A large amount of caffeine may cause irregular heartbeat. Therefore, you must consume black tea in moderate amounts if you have any heart diseases.5 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Black tea may interact with the following drugs: 

  • Black tea may interact with ephedrine, a drug used in case of hypotension (to increase blood pressure). Caffeine in black tea and ephedrine are both stimulants. Hence, black tea and ephedrine may cause stimulation and may lead to heart problems and other side effects. 
  • Black tea may interact with some quinolone antibiotics. It may lower the rate of breakdown of caffeine in the body and increase the risk of side effects like headache, jitteriness, and increased heart rate. 
  • Black tea may also interact with medications used for depression and may increase the risk of side effects like a faster heartbeat and high blood pressure.5 

You must consult your doctor before drinking black tea if you are on any other medication. 

Also Read: Does Tea Dehydrate You? Unpacking the Truth Based on Research

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are the health benefits of black tea? 

Black tea may help to reduce the risk of cancer, improve skin health, enhance heart function, fight against bacterial infections, maintain oral health, and improve immune function. 4 However, further studies are required to check the effect of black tea to improve these conditions. However, you must consult your doctor and not self-medicate. 

2) What is the nutritional value of black tea? 

Black tea may contain bioactive compounds like polyphenols, amino acids, catechin and alkaloids like caffeine.1 Additionally, it may also contain carbohydrates and vitamin B2. Black tea may contain several micronutrients like magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese and many more.3 

3) What are the side effects of black tea? 

Excessive black tea may cause side effects like headaches and irregular heartbeat due to caffeine content.5 

4) What precautions should you take before drinking black tea? 

Pregnant and lactating mothers shall be cautious before consuming black tea. People with anxiety disorder, heart disease, bleeding disorders, diarrhoea, diabetes, seizures, glaucoma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and irritable bowel syndrome should take adequate precautions before consuming black tea.5 

5) With which drugs does black tea interact? 

Black tea may interact with ephedrine (a drug used in case of hypotension- to increase blood pressure), quinolone antibiotics and medication used for depression.5 You must consult your doctor before drinking black tea if you are on any other medication. 

References: 

1) Fatima M, Rizvi SI. Health beneficial effects of black tea. Biomedicine. 2011;31(1):3-8. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285945210_Health_beneficial_effects_of_black_tea 

2) History of tea [Internet]. UK Tea & Infusions Association. [cited 2022Sep29]. Available from: https://www.tea.co.uk/history-of tea#:~:text=The%20story%20of%20tea%20begins,his%20servant%20had%20accidentally%20created. 

3) Food data Central Search Results [Internet]. GoodData Central. [cited 2022Sep27]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173227/nutrients 

4) Al-Mahdi ZK, Ewadh RM, Hindi NK. Health Benefits of Aqueous Extract of Black and Green Tea Leaves. Bioactive Compounds in Nutraceutical and Functional Food for Good Human Health. 2020 Nov 26. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346463556_Health_Benefits_of_Aqueous_Extract_of_Black_and_Green_Tea_Leaves 

5) Black tea: Medlineplus supplements [Internet]. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Sep27]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/997.html 

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