All tea comes from the leaves of one plant, Camellia sinensis , which is processed into four tea types: White, Green, Oolong and Black.

Regional conditions in the various tea-growing area of the world determine a tea's profile, and one tea type can be quite different from another of its type in color, body, flavor and aroma.

In the case of Black Teas, the differences are noted in the names, which often are taken from the districts in the countries where they are grown. Variations include such names as Assam (India), Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Yunnan (China).

For all four teas, the main point differentiating them comes from processing. After being picked from the Camellia sinensis plant, both White and Green Teas remain as unoxidized teas, Oolong Tea is partially oxidized, and Black Tea is fully oxidized. Oxidation occurs when enzymes in the tea leaves are released and the leaf responds to the oxygen in the environment, causing the leaves to turn a bright copper color.

Basically, processing gives Black Teas a more full-bodied and robust taste and Green Teas a more delicate, fresh taste, while Oolong Teas fall somewhere in between. Since only the tips are used and the processing is minimal, White Tea has the most delicate flavor of all.

Tea is among the richest natural sources of antioxidants, which have been linked with cancer prevention, decreased risk of stroke, and reduced blood cholesterol. Additionally, it has trace amounts of various nutrients such as the amino acid theanine; the minerals calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium; and the vitamins C and K.

Naturally occurring antioxidants are nutrients found in most plants, including fruits and vegetables. They bind free radicals and peroxides--both of which are oxygen-containing molecules in your body that, if left unchecked, can damage your DNA, cell membranes and other cell components. The process of breaking down food for energy creates free radicals and peroxides in your body everyday. Antioxidants help your body keep these harmful substances in check

"Black Tea has been used throughout history for medical purposes, long before it became a breakfast tea. It helps relieve diarrhea, lowers cholesterol levels and helps prevent tooth decay. The tea has a therapeutic effect on gastric and intestinal illness because of its tannins, which decrease intestinal activity and exerts and antidiarrheal effect." (1)

"Scientist have found that tea contains antioxidants, substances that can reduce oxidative damage in the body, helping maintain healthy cells and tissues. The latest epidemiological research suggests that drinking black tea may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Of particular interest are two studies that were published in 1999." (2)

"One study examined 340 men and women who had suffered heart attack and found that hose who drank a cup or more of black tea daily had a 44% reduction in heart attack risk compared to non-tea drinkers. The study was conducted by Dr. Howard Sesso et al. At Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in January." (3)

"In a separate study of Dutch researchers, participants who drank one to cup of black tea daily has a 46% lower risk of aortic atherosclerosis, one factor contributing to cardiovascular disease. Those who drank more than four cups of tea a day had a 69% lower risk. The study, published in October in the Archives of Internal Medicine, examined the association of tea intake and the severity of aortic atherosclerosis in 3,454 subjects who were free of cardiovascular disease at the time of baseline" (4)

"Earlier epidemiological and laboratory studies suggest a relationship between tea consumption and reduced risk of several types of cancer, including oral, digestive, lung and colorectal, and the tea has a greater antioxidant power in vitro than many fruits and vegetables." (5)

"Studies have shown that drinking black tea lowers your risk of suffering heart disease or a stroke. Now new research offers an explanation for this benefit. Black tea may help blood vessels that have loose elasticity by restoring the vessels' ability to expand when the pulse rate quickens. So that morning jog is less likely to give you a heart attack."(6)
  1. The Healing Benefits of Black Tea written by Danielle Naibert
  2. The Healing Benefits of Black Tea written by Danielle Naibert
  3. Tea Cited as One of the Healthiest Foods, Beverage Online, News and Analysis, 12/29/1999, edited by Bill Noone
  4. Tea Cited as One of the Healthiest Foods, Beverage Online, News and Analysis, 12/29/1999, edited by Bill Noone
  5. Tea Cited as One of the Healthiest Foods, Beverage Online, News and Analysis, 12/29/1999, edited by Bill Noone
  6. 200 Best and Worst, Time Magazine, Science Section, 12/18/2000
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