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Health Benefits of Green Tea and Black Tea

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By: The Tea Lady

Black tea is one of the most popular teas in the world. The citizens of England just adore it and use it as a main ingredient in many of their breakfast teas. Black tea comes from the same plant that green tea, white, and oolong tea come from, but it has a distinctively strong flavor and characteristically dark color. Why does it exhibit these characteristics?

The main reason is because of the processing cycle of black tea. To make green tea, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are first dried and then gently steamed. When creating black tea the tea producer processes the leaves with a far more intricate sequence of steps.

First, the black tea leaves are withered. Second, they are rolled to release the beneficial polyphenols present in the leaves. Third, the leaves are placed in the open air and exposed to heat and humidity in order to initiate the fermentation process. The fourth and final step is to dry and pack the leaves after full oxidation (fermentation) is completed.

The combination of these specific steps actually account for the uniqueness of black tea. The tea exhibits a range of taste from brisk to astringent to delicately fruity, flowery, or even smoky. Often, the differences in flavor can be traced back to the growing regions where the black tea is produced. Regardless of taste, flavor, and color, the one constant of black tea are the health benefits derived from this "wonder plant".

For thousands of years, the Chinese (who are documented to be the first tea drinkers) have been enjoying this drink for its many health benefits. Green tea, especially, with its refreshing delicate taste, is said to help in relieving the symptoms of certain diseases from the simplest discomforts (headaches, stomach pains, etc.) to very complex ailments and diseases ( heart disease, cancer, arthritis, etc.)

Scientists believe the reason green tea is claimed to have more beneficial virtues compared to other teas is that the leaves never undergo full oxidation. Since they are not fully fermented, the polyphenols, especially the polyphenol ECGG, remains intact. This chemical compound is regarded as a potent substance against disease-causing free radicals in the human body. However, modern studies have shown that, while it is true that full oxidation does somewhat break down ECGG, the benefits of black tea are not completely tied to the presence of that chemical compound.

Scientists found that the benefits of black tea are more directly associated with certain chemical compounds that give black tea its characteristic fruity flavor and dark color rather than ECGG. These compounds, called theaflavins and theaburigins are polyphenols with antioxidant properties that are attributed to removing and cleansing the body of harmful free radicals.

In a study done at the American Heart Association in New Orleans, researchers also found that black tea may provide the additional benefit of lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke. According to their findings, certain compounds found in black tea help relax and expand the arteries. This relaxation and expansion aids in the increase of blood flow to the heart along with minimizing clogging of the arteries. The eight-week study on the benefits of black tea involved 50 men and women with coronary artery disease. During the study period, the volunteers drank four cups of either water (a placebo) or tea a day for four weeks. The results provided some insightful conclusions - the group that drank black tea produced more nitric oxide, the chemical released by the body that causes the artery to dilate, which accounted for their arteries to dilate normally. This dilation helped increase the blood flow to the heart.

Find out about the health benefits of green tea and black tea yourself by enjoying both on a regular basis. Remember to always consult your physician if you are trying to achieve any medical gains (other than the pure joy of how they taste) in your use of these fabulous beverages.

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About the Contributor

The Tea Lady carefully tends to her website located at where she offers information on various tea topics along with offering over 7000 different offerings of tea in her Tea Superstore.

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