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Unveiling the Secrets of Black Tea: From Fermentation to Health Benefits

Unveiling the Secrets of Black Tea: From Fermentation to Health Benefits

  • Thursday, 05 October 2023
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                                          Hey there! Have you ever wondered why black tea is called black tea? Well, it's actually because it's a fully fermented tea, named for the red color of its dried and brewed tea broth. During the production process, the tea leaves are first withered to activate enzymes, then rolled and fermented to promote oxidation. This process breaks down the green chlorophyll and other compounds in the leaves and produces new compounds, such as theaflavins and theobromine, which give black tea its distinctive color and flavor.

In China, black tea can be divided into three categories according to the different manufacturing methods: souchong black tea, Gongfu black tea, and broken black tea. Although they have different processing methods, they all go through the basic steps of withering, rolling, fermentation, and drying. Fermentation is actually the most important step in making high-quality black tea.

Souchong black tea is a specialty tea from Fujian Province, China. Its production process involves six steps: withering, rolling, fermentation, fixation, re-rolling, and fumigation, and the tea leaves are withered and dried using an open fire of pine firewood, giving the tea a distinct aroma of pine smoke. Lapsang souchong is one of the most popular varieties and is known for its fat, tight, round, and straight leaves, as well as its high aroma with pure pine smoke and sweet taste with hints of cinnamon soup and honey dates.

Kongfu black tea is a traditional Chinese black tea that is named for its special attention to the tightness and integrity of the tea leaves. The production process includes four steps: withering, rolling, fermentation, and drying. Different varieties of Kongfu black tea have different quality characteristics, such as Anhui Keemun black tea, which is famous for its high aroma and mellow flavor, and Yunnan Dian Hong black tea, which is known for its deep color and rich flavor. Overall, Kongfu black tea is a unique and flavorful type of black tea that has been enjoyed in China for centuries.

Chinese broken black tea is a popular black tea product for export, commonly sold in the form of bagged tea. The production process includes four steps: withering, rolling and cutting, fermentation, and drying. Rolling and cutting are key steps in shaping the tea's quality and shape, and are the most labor-intensive in traditional production methods. Broken black tea can be divided into five types based on kneading methods, each with a unique aroma and taste. The tea has a high rate of cell destruction, which is conducive to enzymatic oxidation and results in a sharp aroma and fresh taste, even when milk and sugar are added. Different origins and varieties of broken black tea have unique quality characteristics, and can be categorized as leaf tea, crushed tea, piece tea, or final tea based on leaf shape.

Chinese broken black tea is mainly exported in the form of bagged tea and is popular all over the world. Broken black tea is one of the most common forms of black tea and is produced using a different method than other varieties. It goes through four steps: withering, rolling and cutting, fermentation, and drying. The key step in shaping the shape and inner quality of broken black tea is rolling and cutting, which is also the most labor-intensive step in traditional production methods.

Black tea is a type of fully fermented tea that undergoes oxidation and polymerization during the fermentation process. This results in the formation of theaflavins, theobromine, and polymers with larger relative molecular mass, which have strong antioxidant properties. As a result, black tea has antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-cardiovascular disease effects. Black tea has unique health effects due to its chemical composition and characteristics being different from green tea. It is believed to be warm in nature and can be used to warm the stomach, dissolve phlegm, eliminate food and appetite, and relieve asthma in aged black tea.

During the fermentation process of black tea, the tea polyphenols undergo enzymatic oxidation, which reduces their content and irritation to the stomach. In contrast, the tea polyphenols in green tea are astringent and can stimulate the stomach, causing discomfort when consumed on an empty stomach. Black tea is rich in protein, sugar, and other nutrients, which can enhance the body's ability to resist cold, generate heat, and warm the stomach. As a result, it is more suitable for people with weak spleen and stomach and cold stomach.

Tea pigment is an important health component in black tea, known for its various health benefits. Clinical research conducted by the Chinese Gastric Disease Professional Committee has shown that oral tea pigment for 6 weeks can cure ulcer disease and improve symptoms of chronic gastritis, including chronic atrophic gastritis. The treatment group showed a significant improvement in appetite, spirit, and reduction in symptoms such as epigastric pain and abdominal distension, with up to 96% improvement in the former and up to 90% improvement in the latter. Tea pigment can also be used to treat chronic diarrhea, pre-cancerous lesions of the stomach, and digestive system tumors. Furthermore, tea pigments in black tea can improve the human intestinal microbial structure and maintain physiological balance by inhibiting harmful bacteria and promoting beneficial bacteria. Theaflavin-like compounds, theaflavin-like compounds, and tea polyphenols have selective antibacterial activity on intestinal flora, with synergistic effects on harmful bacteria. Black tea extract also has strong bactericidal activity against Vibrio cholerae, which causes acute virulent intestinal infections and can destroy cholera toxin in vitro and in vivo.

A study conducted on patients with mild hypercholesterolemia found that daily consumption of 5 cups of black tea reduced plasma cholesterol levels by 6.5%, LDL cholesterol by 11.1%, Apo B by 5%, and Apo A by 16.4%. The effect was more pronounced in the placebo group with added caffeine compared to the placebo group. Additionally, a study of 1,764 Saudi Arabian women showed that those who consumed more than six cups of black tea per day had a lower risk of elevated plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and very low density lipoproteins compared to non-tea drinkers. These studies suggest that black tea consumption can help regulate blood lipids and plasma lipoprotein concentrations, and has lipid-lowering effects for patients with mild hypercholesterolemia.

People who drink one cup of black tea have a 40% lower risk of heart disease than non-tea drinkers, while those who drink more than 3 cups of black tea a day have a significantly lower incidence of coronary heart disease. Studies conducted at Osaka City University in Japan found that drinking black tea can improve blood flow rate in heart vessels and prevent myocardial infarction. Additionally, substances such as tea pigment and theaflavin have anti-lipid peroxidation effects, which can reduce blood viscosity, prevent and treat cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia, lipid metabolism disorders, cerebral infarction, and other diseases. These substances also improve microcirculation and blood rheology. Tea pigment has significant anticoagulant effects, promotes fibrinolysis, prevents platelet adhesion, and inhibits the proliferation of arterial smooth muscle cells, effectively preventing atherosclerosis. Recent basic research and clinical trials have also shown that theaflavins have significant anticoagulant, fibrinolytic, and platelet adhesion and aggregation prevention effects. They can significantly reduce triglycerides in the serum of high-fat animals by improving erythrocyte deformability, adjusting erythrocyte and platelet adhesion and aggregation, reducing plasma viscosity, improving microcirculation, ensuring the supply of tissue blood and minerals, improving overall immunity and tissue metabolism level.

Tea has been studied for its anti-cancer effects for many years, with green tea being the most researched variety. However, recent studies have shown that black tea also has strong anti-cancer properties. The active ingredients in black tea that contribute to its anti-cancer effect are mainly tea polyphenols and tea pigments, which have inhibitory effects at different stages of tumor formation. In vitro short-term tests have shown that tea polyphenols and tea pigments have significant inhibitory effects on the three different stages of tumor initiation, cancer promotion, and proliferation. Animal studies have also shown that black tea extracts, tea pigment, and theaflavin monomers have anticancer activity.

Furthermore, theaflavin-like components may exert anti-cancer effects by inhibiting the initiation stage of tumor cells. Studies have shown that theaflavins may inhibit the proliferation and spread of cancer cells by inhibiting the action of cytochrome 17450 enzymes, thereby inhibiting tumor development at the initiation stage and promoting apoptosis of various cells. Tea pigment is also a safe and effective immunomodulator. A 1997 study compared 80 patients with malignant tumors treated with tea pigment plus radiotherapy and radiotherapy alone. The results showed that theophyllin protected the immune function of the patients, while radiotherapy alone suppressed the immune function of the patients.

Studies have shown that black tea consumption can reduce the probability of hip fracture in Mediterranean populations with osteoporosis. Black tea with or without milk is beneficial for bone health, and there is no significant difference between the two. However, milk tea only increases the body's intake of calcium by 3%. To prevent osteoporosis, which is common in women, it is recommended to consume a small cup of black tea daily over several years to significantly improve bone health. Adding lemon to black tea can enhance its effect on bone health, while adding various fruits to black tea can have a synergistic effect.

Black tea has been found to have a protective effect against Parkinson's disease and cognitive decline. Researchers at the National University of Singapore found that people who drank 2-3 cups of black tea per month had a 71% lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Theaflavins in black tea can also inhibit the formation and aggregation of toxic amyloid, which is promising for the prevention and modulation of Alzheimer's disease. Studies have shown that black tea drinkers have relatively better cognitive abilities, and in some cases, significantly higher cognitive performance scores compared to non-tea drinkers.

A study in 2016 found that black tea, green tea, and pu-erh ripe tea can all help get rid of free radicals in vitro. Green tea was the best at getting rid of DPPH radicals, pu-erh ripe tea was best at getting rid of superoxide anion radicals, and black tea was best at getting rid of hydroxyl radicals. Theaflavins are also important for the antioxidant activity of black tea. They have a unique structure that helps them get rid of free radicals by working with biological enzyme systems, eliminating free radicals directly, and stopping the oxidation of LDL.


When we eat sugary foods, oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans secrete glucosyltransferase (GTF), which turns sucrose into sticky dextran that sticks to the tooth surface and allows Streptococcus mutans to form plaque and cause tooth decay.


Tea is rich in tea polyphenols, including theaflavin, which can inhibit glucosyltransferase and reduce alpha-amylase activity. Glucosyltransferase is an enzyme that causes tooth decay by forming plaque, while alpha-amylase is an enzyme that breaks down starch into glucose, which is needed for glucan formation. Theaflavins can also get rid of bad breath by inhibiting bacteria and precipitating proteins, with black tea being the strongest at this.

Black tea has numerous health benefits, including its ability to prevent Parkinson's disease and cognitive decline, protect against cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and prevent tooth decay. Theaflavins, an important component of black tea, have strong antioxidant properties and can inhibit the production of anti-allergy antibodies, which can prevent allergy symptoms such as pollen allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma. In addition, theaflavins have been found to reduce allergic reactions associated with skin sensitivities. Theaflavins achieve their antioxidant effects by modulating the activity of biological enzyme systems in the body, directly eliminating free radicals, cooperating with metal ions, and preventing the oxidation of LDL. Black tea is also rich in tea pigments, which have better anti-allergic effects than tea polyphenols. Studies have shown that black tea has a stronger anti-allergic effect than green tea, even though it has lower catechin content. Theaflavins and theobromine in black tea may contribute to its anti-allergy effects.

To ensure the best experience when drinking black tea, it's important to keep a few things in mind. Black tea is warming and can be beneficial for the stomach, but it's not recommended for people with a warm constitution or those suffering from deficiency heat, internal fire, or inflammatory lesions. Drinking black tea cold can also affect its warming properties. Additionally, it's important to not leave tea broth for too long as it can reduce the content of nutrients and efficacy components. As with any dietary changes, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

In conclusion, black tea is a delicious and healthy beverage with numerous benefits for the body. From improving cognitive function to preventing tooth decay and allergies, black tea has something to offer everyone. However, it's important to keep in mind the precautions when drinking black tea to ensure the best experience and avoid any adverse effects.

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