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Black Tea

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What other names is Black Tea known by?

Black Leaf Tea, Camellia sinensis, Camellia thea, Camellia theifera, Chinese Tea, English Tea, Feuille de Thé Noir, Té Negro, Tea, Thé Anglais, Thé Noir, Thea bohea, Thea sinensis, Thea viridis, Theaflavin, Théaflavine.

What is Black Tea?

Black tea is a product made from the Camellia sinensis plant. The aged leaves and stems are used to make medicine. Green tea, which is made from fresh leaves of the same plant, has some different properties.

Black tea is used for improving mental alertness as well as learning, memory, and information processing skills. It is also used for treating headache; both low and high blood pressure; high cholesterol; preventing heart disease, including "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis) and heart attack; preventing stroke; preventing Parkinson's disease; and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Black tea is also taken by mouth to prevent cancer, including stomach and intestine cancer, colon and rectal cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, mouth cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, cancer of the kidneys, cancer of the esophagus, and cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer). It is also used for type 2 diabetes, stomach disorders, vomiting, diarrhea, and to increase urine flow. Some people use black tea for preventing tooth decay and kidney stones. Black tea is also used to decrease stress. In combination with various other products, black tea is used for weight loss.

In foods, black tea is consumed as a hot or cold beverage.

Likely Effective for...

  • Mental alertness. Drinking black tea and other caffeinated beverages throughout the day helps to keep people alert and improve attention, even after extended periods without sleep. The effect appears to increase with increasing amount of caffeine in the caffeinated beverages.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Low blood pressure after eating (postprandial hypotension. Black tea contains caffeine. Drinking beverages containing caffeine helps increase blood pressure in older people who have low blood pressure after eating.
  • Heart attacks. Some research shows that people who drink black tea have a lower risk of having a heart attack. Also, people who have been drinking black tea for at least a year before having a heart attack seem to be less likely to die after having a heart attack.
  • Brittle bones (osteoporosis). Early research suggests that older women who drink more black tea have stronger bones than those who drink less. Drinking more black tea also seems to be linked with a lower risk of hip fracture in older men and women.
  • Ovarian cancer. Women who regularly drink tea, including black tea or green tea, appear to have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to women who never or rarely drink tea.
  • Parkinson's disease. Some research shows that people who drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and cola have a lower risk of Parkinson's disease. The lower risk seems to be directly related to the dose of caffeine in men but not women. Drinking black tea also appears to be linked with a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease among people who smoke cigarettes.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Bladder cancer. People who drink tea, including black tea and green tea, do not seem to have a lower risk of bladder cancer compared to those who don't drink tea.
  • Breast cancer. People who drink black tea do not seem to have a lower risk of breast cancer compared to those who don't drink black tea.
  • Colon and rectal cancer. Some early research suggests that drinking black or green tea might be linked with a lower risk of colon and rectal cancer. However, most research shows that drinking tea is not linked with a lower risk of colon and rectal cancer. In fact, some early research suggests that drinking higher amounts of black tea might be linked with an increased risk of colon and rectal cancer.
  • Diabetes. Early research suggests that taking an extract of black and green tea does not improve average blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Other early research suggests that drinking at least one cup of black tea per day is not linked with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in Japanese adults.
  • Cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer). Women who drink more black tea do not seem to have a lower risk of developing endometrial cancer compared to those who drink less.
  • Cancer of the tube connecting the throat and stomach (esophageal cancer). People who drink higher amounts of black tea do not seem to have a lower risk of developing esophageal compared to those who drink less.
  • Stomach cancer. Some early research suggests that drinking black or green tea might be linked with a lower risk of stomach cancer. However, most research shows that people who drink black or green tea do not have a lower risk of stomach cancer. In fact, some early research suggests that people who drinking higher amounts of black tea might have an increased risk of stomach cancer compared to those who drink less.
  • Lung cancer. Green tea and black tea contain chemicals called phytoestrogens. Some early research suggests that men who get more phytoestrogens in their diet have a lower risk of developing lung cancer than men who do not get these chemicals. However, drinking black tea is not linked with a reduced risk of lung cancer and may even be linked with an increased risk.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Early research suggests that people who drink black tea have a reduced risk of having their arteries become hardened compared to those who don't drink black tea. This link is stronger in women than men.
  • Heart disease. Some early research suggests that people who regularly drink black tea have a lower risk of developing heart disease. However, other research suggests that drinking black tea is linked with an increased risk of heart disease becoming worse or causing death.
  • Cavities. Early research suggests that rinsing with a black tea extract might help prevent cavities.
  • High cholesterol. It is still not clear if drinking black tea helps to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood. Some research shows that black tea might reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol in people with normal or high cholesterol levels. However, other research shows that drinking black tea does not have these effects.
  • High blood pressure. Some early research suggests that people who regularly drink green or black tea have a lower risk of having high systolic blood pressure, which is the top number of a blood pressure reading. Also, some research shows that drinking 4-5 cups of black tea per day reduces systolic blood pressure in people with normal or high blood pressure. However, many studies show that drinking black tea does not reduce blood pressure in people with normal or high blood pressure.
  • Kidney stones. Women who drink one cup of tea, such as black tea, per day seem to have an lower risk of developing kidney stones compared to those who don't drink tea.
  • Pancreatic cancer. Some early research suggests that drinking black tea is linked with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer. However, other research shows conflicting results.
  • Prostate cancer. Early research suggests that drinking black tea is linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
  • Kidney cancer. Early research suggests that people who drink higher amounts of black or green tea have an increased risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Stress. Early research suggests that drinking black tea for 6 weeks does not improve blood pressure, heart rate, or feelings of stress ratings while performing stressful tasks.
  • Stroke. Black tea contains chemicals called flavonoids. Early research suggests that eating a diet that contains flavonoids is linked with a lower risk of stroke.
  • Weight loss. Early research shows that taking a product containing black tea extract plus green tea extract, asparagus, guarana, kidney bean, and mate along with a combination of kidney bean pods, garcinia, and chromium yeast for 12 weeks does not reduce body weight in overweight adults.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Headache.
  • Stomach disorders.
  • Vomiting.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of black tea for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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