Green tea, especially matcha, is the trending beverage these days. But let’s not forget black tea, a staple in kitchen pantries around the world for thousands of years. The most popular beverage on the planet1—beating coffee, beer, wine, and even Coke!—it’s commonly known by these names:

  • Black teas: Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, orange pekoe, red tea
  • Black tea blends: chai, Earl Grey, English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Russian caravan2

Black tea’s health benefits

When brewed, black tea has less caffeine than a similar-sized cup of coffee, but in most cases has as much caffeine as sodas. “Although the contents of tea leaves are healthy, the quality matters because the leaves are heavily sprayed with pesticides,” says Jackie Elnahar, RD, Esq., head of Teladoc Health Dietitian Services. “Select organic tea when possible, because it has not only less toxins but also a better quality leaf and taste.”

Black tea also contains antioxidants, which help protect our bodies’ cells from damage by free radicals (the toxins our bodies produce when glucose and other foods react with oxygen to produce energy). Other benefits may include:

  • Reduced cholesterol3
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Improved gut health
  • Lower blood pressure4

Now that we know black tea may help our heart and digestive health, what else can it do? Glad you asked. Turns out it’s a great cosmetic aid too! Try a couple of these tips for a few weeks:

  • To reduce puffiness: Soak two cotton balls in cold black tea and place them under your eyes for 20 minutes a day. You can also store used tea bags in the fridge overnight and place them directly on your eyes the next day.
  • To fight blemishes: Dab cold black tea directly on the spot.
  • To make hair shiny: Give your hair a final rinse with room-temperature tea.

Brewing tips

Which black tea is best? It doesn’t matter; use what you like best. If you enjoy drinking it, buy that kind to treat your skin and hair. The healthiest way to drink tea is black, without sweetener or milk. If you prefer flavored tea, make your own chai; Bon Appétit has a great recipe.

Here’s a quick guide to prepare the perfect cup of plain black tea:

  1. Whole, loose-leaf, organic tea is better than tea bags
  2. Use ¼ to ½ teaspoon loose leaf per cup
  3. Steep it for 4 to 5 minutes
  4. Cover it while steeping
  5. Don’t let the leaves boil (if you’re pouring water over it, let the water boil and then remove it from the heat and let it stand for up to one minute before pouring it over the tea)

Drinking too much tea

As with many things that are good for you, too much of a good thing can yield unhealthy results. This applies to black tea as well. Since it does contain caffeine, avoid drinking more than 5 cups of black tea per day to help ward off these side effects:

  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn

Rely on Teladoc to feel better

If you experience those last two symptoms, Teladoc can provide relief faster than you can say, “No more for me, thanks.” Our U.S. board-certified doctors can diagnose and recommend treatment for a wide variety of non-emergency conditions, including diarrhea and heartburn as well as seasonal allergies, insect bites, skin rashes, and much more. Simply request a visit 24 hours a day, seven days a week by app, web, or phone.

Tea, anyone?


1Top Tens List
3National Center for Biotechnology Information

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