What is black tea?
That steaming hot and invigorating cup of black tea which gives the best start to your day is harvested from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. Oolong, white and green teas also stem from camellia sinensis, whereas tisanes or fruit flavoured teas do not.
As a widely drunk beverage black tea is the most oxidised tea, and is generally a stronger flavour than the others. Popular black teas include darjeeling, earl grey, pu-erh, chai and a range of breakfast teas such as Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast.
Is black tea good for you?
Like most teas and tisanes, what appears to be a humble cup of black tea actually provides many health benefits. Black tea contains antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols. Studies show these powerful substances may reduce the risk of heart disease and help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Many studies have been conducted on the health benefits of drinking black tea. It seems that drinking one or two cups of black tea per day could help reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, some cancers and elevated cholesterol levels.
While black tea benefits our physical wellbeing, popping the kettle on and making your favourite brew can also be a soothing and comforting ritual. A hearty black tea may sometimes be a little on the rowdy, rambunctious side – perfect when we need a boost. But when blended with ingredients such as the exciting spices found in Chai, a cup of black tea can woo away our troubles and soothe our senses with wonderful aromatic powers.
How much caffeine is in black tea?
All teas which come from the camellia sinensis plant contain caffeine. As you would expect from fully fermented black tea leaves - the basis of all breakfast teas - black tea contains the highest amount of caffeine, with oolong, green and white teas following.
If you’re looking for a caffeine hit from your crack-of-dawn brew, in comparison to coffee the caffeine content in a cup of black tea is significantly less. Black tea can still give a bit of a kickstart to your day and as an afternoon pick-me-up it offers less risk of wide-eyed insomnia come bedtime than a cup of coffee.
It’s hard to determine the exact caffeine content of any type of tea. As black tea is a natural product harvested from the camellia sinensis plant, the caffeine levels in the plant can vary from region to region with rainfall and harvesting also impacting on the caffeine content.
Here’s what we can say with confidence though: coffee has a higher caffeine content than any type of tea. Black tea has considerably less caffeine than coffee - potentially even less than half the amount, and white tea has the least caffeine of black, oolong and green teas.
How to make black tea?
There are many ways to make a heart-warming cup of black tea with T2 teawares. You might pop a scoop of black tea into your handy T2 teamaker, your super chic and cute-as-can-be teapot, or any vessel using your trusty tea diffuser.
It’s always a good idea to warm your tea vessel with a splash of boiling water, swished around and discarded before pouring in the boiling water within which your tea will steep. Most black teas are quite happy being bathed in 100°C water but there are exceptions – darjeeling being one. Our darling darjeeling would prefer to soak in 90°C for 2-4 minutes.
Brewing times for black leaf teas vary too. Chai and breakfast teas will emerge their very best after 2-4 minutes while the refined and distinguished French Earl Grey says 2-3 minutes is enough, thank you very much. Another world-famous black tea, pu-erh, will happily sit around for 1-5 minutes – so check the brewing guide on each type of tea to ensure you make a perfect brew.
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