Black Tea is derived from the leaves of the same perennial evergreen shrub known in Latin as Camellia Sinensis that Green Tea leaves come from. The difference in Black and Green leaves is the manner in which they are processed. Green leaves are not oxidized or fermented which allows them to retain natural enzymes but also decreases their shelf life. Black Tea on the other hand goes through a process of drying, rolling, fermenting, and firing which gives it its distinguishing color and distinct flavor.
Next to water Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Since ancient times it has been considered a precious commodity and major influence on trade routes and expeditions. Among all the teas available Black Tea has long been the most popular because of its distinct aroma and long lasting flavor. Now scientists, at the American Heart Association, are looking to Black Tea to see if it possesses life giving and extending properties.
Clinical trials have been conducted using Black Tea to determine if it has cholesterol-lowering affects. During such studies some subjects were given a caffeinated placebo beverage while others were given Black Tea. The results offered some evidence of Black Tea as an agent for lowering the oxidation of LDL cholesterols, which has been directly correlated to heart disease. Some scientists have suggested Black Tea can reduce the clotting factor of platelets in the blood and resist hardening of arteries. In test tubes the flavonoids found in Black Tea did in fact prevent clumping of blood platelets. This leads scientists to believe Black Tea can aid in preventing death after heart attacks when consumed regularly.
The questions posed by modern medicine over Black Tea primarily concern its antioxidant properties and flavonoid compounds. Oxidation is a chemical reaction, which results in the loss of electrons of a molecule, atom, or ion. Oxidation of metals leads to rust. Oxidation in the human body leads to degenerative conditions such as hardening of the arteries. Antioxidants such as those found in tea act as scavengers hunting down free radicals that can damage cells through chemical chain reactions with other molecules.