Black Tea May Relieve Stress

Black Tea May Relieve Stress

Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world (the most popular is water). It is made by steeping processed leaves, buds or twigs of the tea bush Camellia sinensis in hot water for a few minutes. The processing can include oxidation (fermentation), heating, drying and the addition of other herbs, flowers, spices and fruits.


There are four types of true tea: black tea, oolong tea, green tea, and white tea. The term herbal tea usually refers to infusions of fruit or herbs such as rosehip tea, chamomile tea and Jiaogulan leaves.Tea is a natural source of caffeine, theophylline, and antioxidants, but it has almost no fat, carbohydrates, or protein. It has a cooling, slightly bitter and astringent taste.

Black tea is the most common form of tea in southern Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc) and in the last century many African countries including Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The literal translation of the Chinese word is red tea, which may be used by some tea-lovers. The Chinese call it red tea because the actual tea liquid is red. Westerners call it black tea because the tea leaves used to brew it are usually black.

Most recently researchers found that regular cups of tea can help speed recovery from stress, researchers from University College London (UCL).

Men who drank black tea four times a day for six weeks were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than a control group who drank a fake tea substitute, the researchers said in a study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

The tea drinkers also reported a greater feeling of relaxation after performing tasks designed to raise stress levels.

Andrew Steptoe, of UCL's department of Epidemiology and Public Health, and one of the report's authors, said the findings could have important health implications.

"Slow recovery following acute stress has been associated with a greater risk of chronic illness such as coronary heart disease.

"Although it does not appear to reduce the actual levels of stress we experience, tea does seem to have a greater effect in bringing stress hormone levels back to normal."

In the study, 75 tea-drinking men were split into two groups, all giving up their normal tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks.

Half were given a fruit-flavored caffeinated tea mixture made up of the usual constituents of a cup of black tea.

The others were given a caffeinated substitute, identical in taste but without the active tea ingredients.

Neither the participants or the researchers knew who was drinking real or false tea.

At the end of six weeks the participants were given a series of tests designed to raise their stress levels, including being given five minutes to prepare and deliver a presentation.

The researchers found that stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate rose similar amounts in both groups.

But 50 minutes after the tasks cortisol levels had fallen an average of 47 percent among the tea drinkers, compared to 27 percent in the fake tea group.

Steptoe said it was not known which ingredients in tea were responsible for the effects found in the study.

Black teas should be added at the boiling point (100 °C or 212 °F), except for more delicate teas, where lower temperatures are recommended. This will have as large an effect on the final flavour as the type of tea used. The most common fault when making black tea is to use water at too low a temperature. Since boiling point drops with altitude, this makes it difficult to brew black tea properly in mountainous areas.

It is also recommended that the teapot be warmed before preparing tea, easily done by adding a small amount of boiling water to the pot, swirling briefly, before discarding. Black tea should not be allowed to steep for less than 30 seconds or more than about five minutes (a process known as brewing or [dialectally] mashing in the UK).

After that, tannin is released, which counteracts the stimulating effect of the theophylline and caffeine and makes the tea bitter (at this point it is referred to as being stewed in the UK). Therefore, for a "wake-up" tea, one should not let the tea steep for more than 2- 3minutes. When the tea has brewed long enough to suit the tastes of the drinker, it should be strained while serving.

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