Black tea originated in China around 2700 BCE when tea leaves blown by the wind fell into a pot of hot water being stirred by herbalist Shen Nung or so one legend goes. But the facts are that tea, with its intriguing flavour and health benefits, is now the world’s most popular beverage after water.
We know that China enjoyed tea for many centuries before traders introduced it to the outside world. Today tea is grown in China, Japan, India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), parts of Africa and Taiwan using similar methods of processing as those begun in China so long ago. Young tea buds and leaves are picked then withered or softened so they can be rolled by machines to break down the fibrous cell walls of the leaves releasing essential oils to aid in fermentation. The leaves are sifted and separated by size onto honeycombed trays to oxidize, dried at 200º Celsius, then packaged and sent to grateful tea lovers around the world.
Digestive Tract Health
The tannins in tea have a therapeutic effect on gastric and intestinal illnesses and make it a great digestive aid, used in China as such for thousands of years. These tannins decrease intestinal activity and exercise an antidiarrheal effect. The polyphenols in green tea have been demonstrated to have an effect on intestinal inflammation suffered by people afflicted with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
Brain and Nervous System
Unlike high levels of caffeine found in coffee, the low amounts in black tea promote blood flow in the brain without over stimulating the heart. The caffeine in black tea hones mental focus and concentration and studies show that the amino acid L-theanine found in black tea can help you relax and concentrate more fully on tasks. Black tea has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a month of drinking four cups of tea daily. The caffeine in black tea might also give your memory the boost it needs for a few hours and some studies suggest that a regular tea habit may help protect against Parkinson's disease.
In moderation caffeine can be a benefit - in black tea it stimulates the metabolism, increases brain function and aids alertness. The caffeine in tea acts as more of a subtle stimulant, taking more than a few minutes to take effect, rather than hitting your system as quickly as coffee or cola. This effect is assisted by another compound found only in tea, theophylline. While caffeine chiefly targets the brain and muscles, theophylline stimulates the respiratory system, heart and kidneys. This helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Research suggests that catechin antioxidants in black tea may reduce oral cancers. Tea's polyphenols and tannin perform as antibiotics, preventing bacteria that cause tooth decay, and the polyphenols in tea can help to keep in check the bacteria that cause bad breath.
Tea is full of substances called "tannins," which studies have shown have the ability to fight viruses such as influenza, dysentery and hepatitis. One such tannin named "catechin" helps suppress tumors. Black tea also contains alkylamine antigens, which help boost immune response.