Is Black the New Green Tea?

By Michael A. Smith, MD

The 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 Inflammation

The 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 Tea

Want 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:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. black tea leaves
  • 1 small (14-ounce) can condensed milk
Preparation:

  • 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!

References

  1. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Aug;5(4):372-5.
  2. Prev Med. 2005 Jun;40(6):910-8.
  3. Crit Care Med. 2004 Oct;32(10):2097-103.
  4. Life Extension Magazine, January 2009.

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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I was a boy my parents gave us this (Hong Kong Milk Tea) instead of coffee. They called it "Tea Kettle Tea". We loved it.

Life Extension said...

We love it too! Thanks for your comment.

Worldtrvler said...

Great information! I am excited as I prefer the taste of black to green tea. I had heard milk cuts down the effects of tea. Is this true?

Life Extension said...

Interesting, we have not heard that before. Do you happen to have any links to the information?

Anonymous said...

yes, I have read it, green tea and milk shouldn't be mixed

Jenna said...

Does this mean black tea is better than loose green tea? Anyway I love your tea recipe here.

Life Extension said...

Hi Jenna. No, we're just saying that people should drink black as well as green. Thanks for reading our posts!

Unexploded said...

One small issue with your Hong Kong Milk tea, I don't recall the exact mechanism, but I've read multiple studies in the past that illustrate dairy products cancel out the various health benefits of tea's theaflavins & thearubigins.

So tasty, yes. Healthy, not so much.

Anonymous said...

I've heard the same about the nullifying affects of dairy on green tea, while lemon in tea maximizes the EGCG. Seems the British may only be benefiting from enhanced taste alone. Also found green tea extract, while good against gum disease, had an adverse affect on the drug mestinon. May not be something that affects all mestinon users.

I'm primarily a drinker of black tea. I'm addicted to Dunkin Donut's black tea blend. The theaflavins have a beneficial effect on cholesterol reducing blood cholesterol levels, both total and LDL. I've found success with my cholesterol levels drinking black tea.

Anonymous said...

I also read green tea should not be mixed with milk as the benefit is reduced.(in Twitter ?) How much caffeine does black tea have?? Are capsules of black tea on market ?? Doesn't green tea protect inflammation ??

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - There is some research suggesting that milk can bind to certain antioxidants in tea, preventing their absorption.

The caffeine content of black tea varies, depending on the product.

Black tea extract, called theaflavins, are in the market. They're available in capsule-form.

Green tea protects against inflammation.

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