Of the three main varieties of tea - black, green and oolong, black tea is by far the most common. Included in the black tea, or Camellia sinensis, family are orange pekoe, Darjeeling and the breakfast teas. Though all teas come from the same plant, each variety is processed differently. The tea plant is actually a tree and grows only in certain climates. The world's major tea growing areas are in the higher elevations (upto 6500 ft) of china, Japan, India Sri Lanka and East Africa. After the evergreen shoots of black tea are picked, they are withered, rolled, fermented and dried. An important ingredient in black tea is caffeine, however the lower amounts in black tea promote blood flow in the brain without over stimulating the heart. Black tea also contains abundant tannins-astringent chemicals found in many herbs that have soothing anti-inflammatory effects on the digestive tract.
Preparation of the Tea
To brew the tea, use 1 rounded tsp. of black tea per 1 cup of hot water. A muslin pouch works well for this purpose. Let the tea steep for 4-8 min. This allows enough time to release most of the soothing tannins. (If you steep the tea for a shorter period, only 2 ½ min or so, it will contain mainly the stimulant caffeine.) Add some lemon juice to the tea for an effective cold remedy.
The medicinal action of black tea is due primarily to its tannins, which exert a soothing effect on the mind and body. The caffeine in the black tea sharpens mental focus and concentration, and the trace element fluoride inhibits tooth decay.
Theophylline has many benefits
Black tea also contains very small amounts of theophylline, a gentle stimulant that can benefit the heart and central nervous system. Theophylline increases blood flow in the capillaries and helps the body maintain normal blood pressure. It can also expand the airways, making breathing easier for asthmatics.
Theanine stimulates brain activity
Theanine is also found in black tea. It is closely related to the amino acid glutamate, which provides fuel for the brain and stimulates brain activity. Theanine also reduces the stimulant actions of caffeine, thereby helping to prevent such side effects as nervousness.
Extra Tip : Black Tea tastes best brewed with soft water. True connoisseurs use non-sparkling mineral water. Very hard tap water should be boiled for at least 30 sec. before brewing to reduce any unpleasant taste.
To relieve diarrhea
Black Tea has a therapeutic effect on gastric and intestinal illness because of its tannins, which decreases intestinal activity and exert an anti-diarrheal effect. To get the maximum benefit for the treatment of diarrhea, let the tea steep for a full 15 min. This will release a good amount of tannins. In addition, drink the tea unsweetened.
To sharpen concentration
A person's intellectual performance normally peaks between 9.30 and 11.30 am and declines at about 1.00 pm. The mental performance of someone who drinks 3 cups of black tea a day-early in the morning, just before noon and in the afternoon-is 50 percent higher than that of someone who doesn't drink black tea.
To lower cholesterol levels
In addition to improving circulation, the theophylline in black tea may improve cholesterol levels. To reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, drink 2 cups of black tea every day for 3 weeks.
To prevent tooth decay
Fluoride, a trace element found in black tea, strengthens tooth enamel, thereby helping to prevent tooth decay. Most people get enough fluoride through their drinking water, but you can supplement your fluoride intake by drinking black tea.
Healing Tea Mixtures
Peppermint iced tea
3 tsp. black tea
3 tsp. peppermint tea
Juice of 1 lemon
Pour 1 qt. of boiling water over the teas. Steep for 4-8 min; strain. Add lemon juice and sugar to taste. Pour the hot tea over ice cubes for a refreshing summer thirst quencher.
4 tsp. black tea
Juice of lemon
Pour 1 qt. of boiling water over the tea. Steep for 4-8 min; strain. Add lemon juice and sugar to taste. Enjoy this fitness tea hot, or pour it over cubes. It's an invigorating pick-me-up.
4 tsp. black tea
1 cup dark rum
Pour 1 qt. of boiling water over the tea. Steep for 4-8 min; strain. Add the rum and heat gently. Add sugar to taste. Enhance the flavor by adding orange juice, cinnamon or cloves along with the rum. This tea will warm you up on cold winter days.