By Michael A. Smith, MDThe popularity of green tea is well-deserved given its many health benefits, and a steady flow of research continues to support green tea’s position as a top nutrient within the supplement industry.
However, a relative of green tea is slowly but surely climbing its way toward the top as well. If recent research is a sign of things to come, it just might turn your green tea black.
Why is Black Tea Black?Black tea actually comes from the same plant as green tea, Camellia sinensis. The difference between the two is simple: age. Green tea is harvested from ripe leaves, while black tea comes from sun-aged green tea. The sun’s heat oxidizes the tea leaves, turning them black.
However, sunlight inspires more than just a change in color. A dramatic change also occurs in the antioxidant composition of the tea. A green, ripe tea leaf is loaded with EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) — an antioxidant responsible for many of green tea’s health benefits.1
On the other hand, the oxidized, black tea leaves are concentrated with different compounds called theaflavins. These compounds are leading the way into a new field of study called nutrigenomics.
By influencing the expression of certain genes, black tea can prevent the production of free radicals and stop inflammation before it even starts. Simply put, it's anti-aging and disease prevention at its best.2
It’s no wonder that black tea theaflavins are capturing the attention of longevity researchers around the world.
Black Tea Theaflavins Protect Against InflammationThe common denominator of age-related disease is inflammation. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic pain, and even cancer can be laid at the feet of inflammatory processes gone wild.
Inflammation is characterized by high blood levels of cytokines, which are proteins used by immune cells to signal each other and react to potential threats.
Long-term effects of these cytokines include increased production of free radicals and even more inflammation, which perpetuates the cycle and increases our risk for a myriad of chronic conditions.
Black tea theaflavins can help “turn off” specific genes in your DNA that produce the inflammatory proteins.3 In the article, Novel Method Combats Chronic Inflammation, Dr. Julius G. Goepp writes: “The remarkable ability of theaflavins to target specific genes may allow for exquisite control of inflammation exactly when and where it starts.”4
Recipe – Hong Kong Milk TeaWant to add black tea into your diet? Here’s a tasty way to get theaflavins working for you — Hong Kong Milk Tea.
Hong Kong Milk Tea is also known as “pantyhose tea” or “silk stocking tea” because it is often brewed in a large tea sock that resembles pantyhose. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a sweet, full flavor. Here’s how you can make it at home:
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. black tea leaves
- 1 small (14-ounce) can condensed milk
- Combine water and tea leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Stir in sweetened, condensed milk. Return to heat.
- Return to a boil. Simmer for 3 more minutes.
- Strain and serve hot or (optional) chill and serve over ice. Small glasses are ideal.
Try it and tell us what you think. If you have your own favorite way to enjoy black tea, please don’t keep it to yourself — include your recipe in your comments!
- Altern Med Rev. 2000 Aug;5(4):372-5.
- Prev Med. 2005 Jun;40(6):910-8.
- Crit Care Med. 2004 Oct;32(10):2097-103.
- Life Extension Magazine, January 2009.
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