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Is Black Tea Good for You: A Comprehensive Health Analysis

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Black tea is one of the most consumed drinks on the planet besides water. This article explains in detail if this drink is beneficial for the body.

Medically reviewed by

Neha Suryawanshi

Published At November 20, 2023
Reviewed AtNovember 20, 2023


Black tea is grown on the shrubs of the plant Camellia sinensis. The leaves of this plant are processed to form tea leaves or tea powder, which may be consumed either with water or milk. Black tea is said to have originated in China. In ancient times, the Chinese consumed only green tea and oolong tea. Both are prepared from fresh tea leaves yet to undergo much oxidation. Black tea came into existence when they dried the tea leaves and let them undergo oxidation to extend their shelf life. Since then, black tea has traveled worldwide and gathered much attention. From Europeans to Asians, everyone started consuming black tea. Indians usually prefer having their tea with milk and sugar, enhancing the flavor by infusing different spices and condiments. Black tea is said to have numerous health benefits as it is rich in antioxidants.

What Is the Chemical Composition of Black Tea?

Black tea consists of the following compounds -

  • Polyphenols - They are the major active ingredient present in tea leaves. They are naturally occurring substances that have properties similar to vitamin C and vitamin E.

  • Caffeine - It is present in tea in high amounts, which may be harmful to the body if consumed in excess, though it is said to have anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Catechins -They are polyphenol compounds found in many plants and berries. They are proven to have anti-cancer properties as they are rich in antioxidants (substances that prevent cell damage due to free radicals).

  • Fluoride - Black tea is high in fluoride content, which can benefit the teeth.

  • Flavonoids - They reduce inflammation in the body and prevent damage to the cells caused by oxidative stress that leads to chronic systemic disease. Oxidative stress is an imbalance in the cells caused by the accumulation of by-products of oxygen.

  • Tannins - They are plant polyphenols that are an excellent source of antioxidants.

How Is Black Tea Processed?

The entire process of preparing dried black tea leaves or powder from the fresh tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant can be summed up in four steps, namely -

  • Withering - This process can be carried out in two ways. Natural withering and artificial withering. In natural withering, the tea leaves are spread out on metal troughs, and the air is allowed to pass between them with the help of fans. The leaves are left to wither (dry and shriveled) for about 14 to 16 hours. The humidity level of the leaves is carefully monitored as the desired level of moisture loss will determine the final taste of the tea. In artificial withering hot blasts of air are used to wither the leaves, and it takes four to six hours for the entire process to complete.

  • Rolling - The tea leaves are rolled so that the cell walls in the leaves break, which will initiate the natural oxidation (gaining oxygen) process of the tea leaves. The process of rolling is first done by hand, followed by rolling by a machine. This will cause the essential oils to release from the tea leaves that will get exposed to air, initiating a chemical reaction.

  • Oxidizing - The rolling process will initiate the chemical reaction in the tea leaves, after which the leaves are allowed to rest for eight to ten hours. This process will be complete when there is a significant amount of color change from pale green to a rich golden brown.

  • Drying - After the leaves have rested in the open air for eight to ten hours, they are placed in the dryer for further drying, and the process is complete.

What Are the Potential Health Benefits of Black Tea?

  • Antioxidant Properties - The various compounds present in tea, such as polyphenols and catechins, are rich in antioxidants. The role of antioxidants is to reduce the action of free radicals in the cells. Free radicals damage the cells, cause them to age, and lead to diseases. Antioxidants, therefore, have an anti-aging effect on the body as well.

  • Anti-Cancer Properties - Catechins are said to be anti-cancer agents. They help reduce the activity of free radicals in the body that lead to cell damage.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties - The flavonoids in black tea have an anti-inflammatory effect as they are rich in antioxidants.

  • Disease-Fighting Properties - Black tea helps manage certain health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and increased cholesterol levels.

  • High Fluoride Content - Black tea has the highest amount of naturally occurring fluoride. It can benefit the health provided if the tea is consumed plain and not with added milk and sugar.

  • High Caffeine Content - The caffeine present in tea has positive effects on the mind and body. It makes an individual alert, provides a boost of energy or refreshment, and helps elevate the mood.

  • High Tannin Content - Black tea is the richest source of tannins. Tannins are potent antioxidants and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. They help control heart diseases, manage weight, and have a neuroprotective effect (may protect the brain). They have strong anti-depressant properties as they help boost mood.

  • Builds a Strong Immune System - The flavonoids in black tea may help boost the immune system and protect the body against diseases.

How Does Black Tea Help in Managing Obesity?

Black tea is loaded with antioxidants which help flush out toxins from the body and help cut belly fat. The flavonoids in black tea lower the triglyceride (lipid or fat found in the body) levels, which help reduce visceral fat (fat deposited on internal organs). Flavonoids will reduce inflammation in the body, which will help in weight loss.

What Are the Different Methods by Which Black Tea Is Prepared?

Black tea is available as dried tea leaves and also in powder form. The tea is prepared in the following ways -

  • The tea is infused in boiling water and simmered for four to five minutes. The tea can be flavored using grated ginger, a few drops of lemon juice and sugar, honey, or jaggery for sweetness.

  • Another method of preparing this tea is adding milk to it. It makes a creamy light brown beverage popularly known as Chai in India.

  • Numerous other tea products have surfaced in the market, such as iced black tea, fruit-flavored tea, tea-based energy drinks, tea extracts, and tea concentrates that might be used in cooking.

What Are the Side Effects of Black Tea?

  • The high caffeine content in black tea may be harmful if consumed excessively. Excess intake of caffeine results in a lack of concentration, irritability, and physical and mental fatigue.

  • The tannins in black tea may stain the teeth if consumed excessively. They may also have an anti-nutrient effect on the body, interfering with the absorption of certain nutrients, such as iron.

  • Consuming excessive black tea may lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.


The Camellia sinensis plant has biologically active ingredients and health-promoting properties. Different teas are processed and manufactured from it, black tea being the most consumed drink in the world. It has a strong cultural importance as well. Black tea has been a staple breakfast accompaniment or snack drink consumed with bakery products and sandwiches. It has numerous health benefits when consumed in moderation. This drink can be enjoyed in several ways as it is versatile and complements many flavors.

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Neha Suryawanshi
Neha Suryawanshi


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