As well as tasting delicious, there are many benefits of black tea. It is a great pick-me-up. It is refreshing and gives you a lift and a boost in energy.
In fact, before black tea became so popular as a household drink, it was
prescribed by herbalists as a tonic for boosting energy. This is most
likely caused by caffeine. Tea does contain caffeine, but only a third
of the amount contained in coffee. So if you have a dip of energy, a cup
of black tea really is the thing to drink.
People often have tea in the afternoon as a way of increasing their energy. Afternoon tea as we know it today was in fact created for just this reason. Back in the mid 1800s, at around the time that tea was introduced to England, dinner was often eaten quite late, and the gap between meals was too long. Tea was introduced as a light meal for the upper classes.
Most of us have heard of free radicals and know that they are linked to problems such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Free radicals cause damage to the cells in our body by causing oxidisation. Oxidisation is something that happens naturally in and out of the body. It is not something we can avoid. For example, apples turn brown as soon as they are exposed to the air and begin to oxidise.
Luckily, our bodies know how to handle the damage caused by oxidation.
As part of their defence, they use antioxidants to repair the damage
caused, and also as a preventative to the damage being caused in the
first place. Our bodies obtain these antioxidants from food. Foods rich
in antioxidants are generally considered to be good for us.
Many studies show that diets full of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants improve health. People eating this way are at a lower risk of developing diseases like cancer, heart disease,arthritis, strokes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. There's a great site called howstuffworks.com and I found loads of really interesting information about antioxidants on there, if you want more information.
One of the other benefits of black tea is in oral hygiene. Some studies have suggested that rinsing with tea may lead to better oral health. Apparently this is also thought be to due to antioxidants.
“We found that the polyphenols [chemicals that act as powerful antioxidants] are beneficial to oral health in the sense that they inhibited the growth in acid production of the bacteria that causes cavities,” says the study’s lead researcher, Christina D. Wu, PhD, professor of periodontics at the College of Dentistry, University of Illinois, Chicago.
So one of the benefits of Black tea is that it contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants. Hurray for black tea!
But for me, one of the main benefits of black tea is simply that it tastes good. I enjoy drinking black tea, green tea, white tea and herbal tea at different times and with different food. Tea is one of my basic pleasures in life.
Making the perfect cup of tea is easy when you follow a few basic rules. Of course, everyone drinks tea differently, and this is merely my way, not necessarily the right way!!
I like to choose different types of black tea to drink in the afternoon depending on what I am serving. If we are having a plate of different types of sandwich, and perhaps some cake, and I feel the need for a bit of a boost, then I love to serve Twinings English Breakfast tea or Darjeeling tea.
But if we are having a ham sandwich for a snack, then I prefer to drink Lapsang Souchong tea, because I think the smokiness goes so beautifully with the flavour of the ham.
Earl Grey is another favourite in our family and it goes wonderfully well with lemon scones, fruit cake and other cakes and pastries where the bergamot enhances the flavour.
All tea comes from the same kind of bush, Camellia sinesis. It is called green or black or white depending on the way it has been dried and treated once it has been picked, and it has different qualities depending on where in the world it was grown.
Black teas are processed differently around the world. Basically, though, they are all withered first. The leaves are picked and spread out to for up to 18 hours to begin to dry.
Then they are either rolled or cut (rolling makes a better tea, cutting is for teabags). This breaks the skin of the leaf and releases the juices. Then they are allowed to oxidize for a short time by simply being spread out and left (only for 30 minutes or so).
Finally, the oxidization is stopped by heating the leaves, usually in a dryer of some kind.