The Undeniable Benefits of Black Tea
From Its Rich History to Today’s Top Blends, Black Tea has so much to love.
I feel like we all have a story about black tea. For me, it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of tea—I picture those basic, bitter bags of Lipton black tea that my grandma and I would use to set up our tea party. They were simple, accessible, and easy to customize to taste with sweeteners and milk...and for a 5-year-old, I guess you could say I liked a little bit of tea with my sugar (I was not a fan of British-style tea with milk).
Boy, how I have changed!
What used to be a love for tea parties has now blossomed into an insatiable curiosity for all things tea — how different flavor profiles work together, what sweeteners compliment them best, and how much tea is needed to brew the perfect cup. And of course, I love to learn about various teas which is what lead me here today. What are the benefits of black tea, and what is it good for? Perhaps we should take a page from its history book first.
History of Black Tea
According to Art of Tea, black tea’s beginnings take place in China. Up until the mid-17th century, the only teas that the Chinese drank were green and oolong teas. Then, as the legend is told, an army entered the Fujian province and took shelter at a tea factory close by, holding up production and leaving tea leaves to bask in the sun. This caused them to oxidize for a longer period of time which gave way to darker “black” leaves. After seeing this, they decided to speed the drying process up and smoke the leaves over pinewood which created Lapsang Souchong—what is today known as one of the first black teas.
Interestingly, most fermented teas were known as “black teas” in China before this, but the Dutch and British began calling Chinese “red teas” black teas because of their dark color and dry leaves. To this day, Chinese red tea is still called black tea in the West.
After black tea boomed, many fell in love with its robust flavor and prolonged leaf lifespan. Soon, the British demand for black tea grew and their traders began trying to find other ways to get their hands on it. In fact, they discovered the camellia sinensis assamica genus that could be cultivated by machine in India which yielded a bold crop at a high return—this was the official push the Western world needed to reshape today’s view of black tea.
Today, there are many varieties of black tea and they’re typically named after the region where they’re produced, according to the Republic of Tea. And, in today’s market, “broken leaf” or “CTC - cut tear curl” black tea makes up over 90% of all tea sold in the U.S., and it’s considered a household staple for many people. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you could say the same!
Indulge in Black Tea’s Health Benefits
While you’re working to become a tea connoisseur, let’s check out some black tea benefits so you know what you’re sipping on. After doing some digging on Tea Swan and Healthline, here’s a list of potential health benefits you could reap from drinking black tea*:
- Reduce risk of stroke
- Improve focus
- Lower “BAD” LDL cholesterol
- Help reduce blood pressure
- Regulate blood sugar levels
- Decrease risk of cancer
- Increase antioxidant intake
- Improve heart & gut health
- Reduce plaque on teeth (surprising!)
How Much Caffeine Is In Black Tea?
If you’re looking to increase your black tea intake for its health benefits, but have sensitivity to caffeine, make sure you do your research or consult a doctor first. Compared to other tea types, black tea has quite a bit of caffeine, but still contains significantly less than a cup of coffee. Actually, black tea can be used as a great step down option for avid coffee-drinkers looking to decrease their intake. If you go this route, we recommend replacing your afternoon coffee with a black tea like Cocoa Berry Black, for a pick-me-up that keeps you alert without all of the anxiety or trouble falling asleep. But how much caffeine is really in a cup of black tea vs. a cup of coffee or green tea?
Black Tea vs. Coffee
According to Sencha Tea Bar, a regular cup of coffee has about 200mg of caffeine while a cup of black tea has about 60mg. Either option will give you a boost, but caffeine is a harsh thing for your body to consume, so in our opinion—the less, the better. If you can ween yourself off of coffee and keep your caffeine intake to a minimum, we say cheers!
Black Tea vs. Green Tea
Typically, but not always, black teas have a higher caffeine content than other tea types. In particular, many people enjoy green tea for its caffeine properties, but the average cup of green tea has only 36mg compared to black tea’s 60mg—so if you’re looking for an extra energy boost, let’s award one point for black tea benefits.
Lastly, some resources and articles claim that the longer black tea steeps, the more caffeine the cup will have. I can’t seem to substantiate much evidence, but it’s an industry idea that I’ve seen floating around for a while—and if you’re into re-steeping our tea bags, this might be important for you to consider.
Again, black tea might not be the best blend for you if you’re sensitive to caffeine, or if you have a medical condition that limits your intake. However, if you’re looking for more buzz-worthy blends, be sure to also check out our entire collection of caffeinated tea bags.
Explore Black Tea Types
As mentioned before, there are tons of black tea varieties on the market today, many of which are named after the regions they come from. While processing black tea is pretty standard—plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing, and firing—some flavors vary greatly by region, according to Tea Class. For example, some have more floral notes, while others are more malty, spicy, or nutty. Check out a few types of black tea for a bit more on why they’re unique.
Assam Black Tea
Grown in the Assam region of India, this variety is very fragrant but not overwhelming. It actually has a super smooth, roasted malt aftertaste.
Darjeeling Black Tea
This one is a bit more exclusive, growing primarily in Darjeeling, India. The first leaves to be picked at the beginning of the season are the most fragrant and many tea fans dub this one the “Champagne of Teas.”
Ceylon Black Tea
Originally coming from the Chinese sinensis variety, the first tea plants in Ceylon or Sri Lanka were brought over by the British around 1820. This type of black tea is full-bodied and has a citrus flavor with some chocolate undertones.
Kenyan Black Tea
Today, Kenya is the third largest producer of tea globally. Most of the varieties from this country are robust and have notes of citrus, anise, cardamom, and chocolate.
Lightly Pre-Sweetened Black Tea
No, it’s not a tea from a specific region, but it does have an interesting back story...one that stems from my passion for creating a better cup of tea that’s simple, lightly pre-sweetened, and ready to enjoy. Currently, we offer one true black tea which is our Cocoa Berry Black. The tea leaves are from Nilgiri Mountains in the Nilgiris District of India, and this blend is high in caffeine from the tea, cacao and coffee fruit—plus it’s finished off with notes of blueberry and maple. Doesn’t get much better than that!
*BONUS: Earl Grey
While Earl Grey isn’t technically a black tea, I felt like it deserved an honorable mention because it is a type of flavored black tea. Our twist on traditional Earl Grey is delicious in our Peppermint Earl Grey blend. It boasts a less buzzy coffee leaf tea compared to many Earls that have a black tea base. And no, it doesn’t taste like coffee—you’ll just have to try it for yourself.
*BONUS: Masala Chai
Last but not least, I thought I’d throw this one on the list as a bonus type of black tea. Chais are usually made with a black tea base, but our Cinnamon Oolong Chai features an oolong instead — it’s a cozy, soft, less spicy chai.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of black tea is how much there is to learn about it and how much nostalgia it evokes for me. It’s funny how life’s most basic pantry items can have such a complex story to tell. If you’re interested in learning about the health benefits of other tea types, check out our blogs on green tea and chai tea benefits, too. Or, use our healthy blends to make fun new drinks and snag three simple boba tea recipes to try.
*Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Our products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease, illness, or symptoms.