The basis of black tea nutrition is simple but true: Antioxidants promote well-being. The more antioxidants you consume, the better to boost your body’s natural disease prevention processes.
The Camellia sinensis plant where black tea and all other “real” teas come from has leaves rich with antioxidant-acting phytochemicals called polyphenols. This means that black tea nutrition beverages are good sources of antioxidants for your body.
History records tea as long as four, nearly five, thousand years ago. According to one Chinese legend, the Emperor Shen Nung was boiling water one day when the leaves of a nearby plant fell into the pot. This created the first pot of tea.
In the new millennium, scientific evidence is supporting the link between black tea nutrition and health benefits. Besides polyphenols, black tea nutrition is also a source of several major antioxidants, including flavonoids, which could neutralize the free radicals in the body, helping to maintain healthy cells and tissues. Flavonoids are special phytochemicals found not only in tea leaves, but in apples, onions, and other fruits and vegetables as well.
The majority of flavonoids are released from the tea leaves after 2 minutes of steeping. But the amounts and potency of flavonoids you get from black tea nutrition may depend on the variety, the manufacturing process, and the brewing conditions. Other antioxidants in black tea nutrition include tannins, catechins, theaflavins, and theaburigins. All these antioxidants add to the health benefits in black tea nutrition.
In processing black tea, the leaves of the tea plant undergo four different steps. First, the leaves are harvested and allowed to wither. Afterwards, they are crushed or rolled in order to release the essential oils, polyphenols, and beneficial compounds to coat the surface of the leaves. Then, they are exposed to the air, heat, and humidity in a process called “fermentation” or oxidation, after which, they are allowed to dry.
The oxidation process causes the polyphenols in black tea nutrition to change into the chemical theaflavin, which is the reason why black tea has that brown, reddish color and brisk flavor. When theaflavins bind with other chemicals in black tea, they are transformed into theaburigins which give black tea its characteristic black or dark brown color. But more than lending black tea nutrition its color and flavor, these chemicals are also great antioxidants that help protect the arteries, thus reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A recent study at the American Heart Association showed just how black tea nutrition could help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Scientists have observed earlier that abnormal dilation of the arteries (a condition associated with stroke and heart failure) is caused by the lessening of nitric oxide production. Black tea apparently has an effect on nitric oxide, maintaining its normal production so the arteries begin to dilate normally.
Black tea is also said to contain fluoride, a compound that helps reduce plaque and prevents tooth decay. In addition, flavonoids in black tea nutrition partially inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron from plant food.