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Not as black as it is painted! A case for black tea

Whilst green tea and matcha have taken the cups of health and beauty gurus on Youtube by assault, black tea seems to have been marginalized and forgotten about. Time to step in the breach and put in a good word!BlackTeaThumbnail

(Thumbnail: Train Tea by jurek d. is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

To me, this picture pretty much sums up the standing of black tea in instagramondo: a has-been quotidian companion that is now over the hill and (seemingly) made obsolete by its more glamorous brothers green tea and matcha, that our beauty gurus seem to run on. Indeed, there is no arguing that green tea is good for you: But does this justify the banishment of black tea? After all, both kinds of tea are made from the exact same plant, whose leaves are harvested, withered and then either heated (green tea) or fermented before being dried (black tea). So can green tea really be a panacea and black tea a rightfully forgotten brew, considering their only difference consists in one single step of their processing? Let’s have a closer look at the benefits of both of them!

The first and most obvious benefit of drinking tea of any kind is that it helps to stay hydrated: Let’s be honest here, who really enjoys drinking 2 litres of plain water on an everyday basis? Tea is a delicious alternative that does not contain empty calories like sugary drinks do. From this perspective, the healthiest tea would simply have to be the one you manage to prepare and drink most of!

For me, black tea definitely wins the race in this regard; firstly because I love its taste and can easily finish two or three big cups a day (go for decaffeinated brands if you are worried about this aspect), and secondly because I find it so much easier to prepare! Whilst with green tea, you need to let the boiling water cool down to a certain temperature, then make sure to steep it for a very precise amount of time, black tea is totally fuzz-free: Douse it with boiling water as soon as the kettle is ready, steep for roughly two to five minutes (I find it really doesn’t matter…) and adjust the taste with plant milk and/or a natural sweetener like stevia or agave syrup (my favourite) if needed. Unlike a clear green tea, a cup of black tea is a lot more forgiving and, with its milky looks and slight sweetness, always feels like a real treat to me.  But these are just my personal preferences: Go with the kind of tea you like best and therefore manage to drink most of, whether it is black, green or any other colour 🙂

Until recently, tea research has mostly been pointing out the outstanding health benefits of green tea, that are due to a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) lost in the process of making black tea. Luckily for all of us black tea lovers however, recent studies indicate that theaflavins and thearubigins contained in black tea are responsible for more than only its distinctive taste and dark colour: They also seem – in the long term – to provide the same health benefits than green tea, even though the antioxidant capacity of black tea is a little lower than of green tea (239 mg vitamin C equivalents vs. 436 mg vitamin C equivalents). Also, make sure to have plant and not cow’s milk in your tea, because animal milk proteins bind with the antioxidant flavonoids in tea, making their absorption more difficult.

On another note, black tea provides more fluoride per serving than green tea; an ingredient promoting bone and teeth health. Considering you’d generally add a dash of (plant) milk enriched in calcium and vitamin D to your tea, your daily cuppa makes for a great contribution to strong bones. Since excess fluoride can lead to a medical condition called fluorosis, keep away from cheep teas however, because U.S. studies have found that “own brand” supermarket teas usually contain higher levels of fluoride than more expensive brands. What a great excuse to splurge on our favourite black tea from this gorgeous little tea shop in town 🙂

Even though this little post can by no means summarize and evalute scientific research, which is still and up to this day trying to figure out which tea is healthier, it hopefully showed that the health benefits of black tea – even though slightly less pronounced than those of green tea in certain regards – are by no means negligible; that there is no reason to feel guilty about drinking black tea, and that a cup of black tea is better than no cup of tea at all 🙂

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