Why I’m Obsessed With Black Tea (and why you should be too)

* Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and am only sharing my own thoughts, experiences, and opinions. Please consult with a doctor before taking any medicinal or herbal supplements.

It’s no secret that I’m a lover of tea. I grew up drinking classic plain black tea – it’s a staple in Russian culture and always accompanies food. No meal was complete without that steaming cup of traditional black tea, with a small dessert to accompany it of course!

Black Tea

As I got older and moved away to college, my interest in black tea sadly faded as it gave way to the hotter (no pun intended) and more popular product – green tea. For years I drank the green health elixir while fully ignoring the fact that I simply did not love it. In fact, I didn’t even like it! Green tea always upset my stomach in a way that no other tea did, and yet I continued drinking it to make my body feel better. Oh the irony!

honey

Don’t get me wrong, green tea is undoubtably healthy and incredibly beneficial to our overall health. But it wasn’t doing me any favors so I quit drinking it. I’ve been sticking to herbal teas for the past few years, savoring the many unique combinations available while my beloved black tea lay forgotten in the depths of my memories (and cupboard).

black tea

…until now…

I had occasional cravings for a hot mug of black tea in the past, but the full-blown obsession didn’t strike until the weekend of my stomach virus. It was all I wanted to drink! Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was homesick and my mind associated black tea with the comforts of home, but I also believe that some of the many benefits led to the physical cravings.

black tea

Check out this article for full descriptions of all these incredible benefits! This article about the benefits of Earl Grey tea is also worth reading. Read here for even more benefits, the lists are endless!

black tea

My favorite points (sources above):

Better Immune System: Black tea contains alkylamine antigens that help boost our immune response. In addition it also contains tannins that have the ability to fight viruses and hence keep us protected from influenza, stomach flu and other such commonly found viruses in our everyday lives.

Cold Relief: The bergamot found within Earl Grey is said to improve the immune system as well as cure fevers. As such, it’s considered to be a natural cold remedy.

Healthy Bones and Connective Tissue: The powerful phytochemicals in black tea help in strengthening the bones and connective tissue. In fact, research has proved that black tea drinkers have comparatively healthier bones.

Cardiovascular Benefits: Research has proved that consumption of black tea reduces the propensity of cardiovascular problems. The antioxidants such as flavonoids present in black tea prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. It prevents the damage to blood stream and artery walls and lowers the risk of heart disease.

Eliminates Free Radicals: Consumption of unhealthy food increases the number of free radicals in your body. The antioxidants present in black tea remove these harmful free radicals, thus protecting the body from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart diseases. Black tea with lemon is a good choice to make for this action.

Aids Digestion: Earl Grey tea has been known to improve digestion. It aids in the digestive process and helps relieve painful indigestion, colic and nausea. It is also used to treat intestinal problems such as worms. Because it helps the digestive process, it can also help to keep you regular.

Stress Relief: Not only does [black tea] help slow you down after a long day, studies show that the amino acid L-theanine found in black tea can help you relax and concentrate better. Black tea has also been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol when consumed in moderate amounts on a regular basis.

black tea

Now let’s chat about caffeine. One of the reasons I ditched black tea was due to the caffeine content. Based on the infographic below, black tea is a great alternative for those wanting to cut down on their caffeine intake without having to give up that wonderful caffeinated buzz.

coffee vs tea

(source ← love this article!)

I obviously couldn’t live without my daily cup of coffee (I wouldn’t even consider it), but eventually realized that no sacrifice needed to be made. Nowadays, I drink 2-3 cups of black tea a day! But here’s the kicker – I use the same tea bag to brew each cup. This keeps away the caffeine jitters while still allowing me to enjoy multiple cups.

black tea

Traditionally, the Russian method of drinking black tea involves two main components – the ‘zavarka‘ (black tea concentrate) and the ‘kipyatok‘ (boiling hot water). The zavarka is made in a small teapot using loose-leaf black tea. One simply pours his/her desired amount of zavarka into a cup depending desired strength of flavor, and tops it off with kipyatok for a steamy cup of tea. Bonus points if you own a samovar!

samovar

(source)

Some of my fondest memories take place with a cup of tea in hand next to people I love. Tea brings me so much happiness and I want to share this recipe for happiness with you (pun totally intended)!

black tea

My favorite basic cup of black tea (makes 1):
– 8-16 oz. water
– 1 Earl Grey tea bag or black tea of choice (preferably organic)*
– raw honey to taste
– optional: a slice of lemon

Boil water and pour into cozy mug of choice. Add in the tea bag and allow it to steep for 1-3 minutes depending on desired potency / flavor. Stir in honey and top with a slice of lemon. Perfection ♥

black tea

A spiced twist on an old classic (makes 1):
– 8-16 oz. water
– 1 clove
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 1 Earl Grey tea bag or black tea of choice (preferably organic)*
– sweetener to taste: sugar, honey, etc.
– 1 tsp. orange juice (alternative = 1 tsp. orange marmalade)
– 1 slice lemon
– sprinkle of nutmeg

Boil together water, cinnamon stick, and clove in a small pot. Add in the tea bag and allow to steep for 1-3 minutes depending on desired potency / flavor. Discard the tea bag, cinnamon stick, and clove and pour the mixture into your mug of choice. In a separate bowl, mix together sweetener, orange juice, lemon slice, and nutmeg. Once well-combined, add the mixture into the tea mug and enjoy!

* If you invest in anything organic, tea should be it! Not only are you avoiding directly drinking chemicals / herbicides / pesticides, but you’re also supporting the many incredible tea companies that practice fair trade and sustainability. Check out this chart for a full list of clean and dirty tea brands.

black tea

I hope I convinced you all to start drinking this potent elixir. Now what are you waiting for, go boil some water and brew a healthy cup of black tea!

♥ Irina

8 Comments

  1. February 3, 2015 / 3:27 pm

    Wow, you really did your research here! I used to drink tea a lot when I was living with my family, but now I find it such a hassle (even though the tea-making process for me involves heating up water in the microwave and pouring it over a tea bag 😛 ). I’ve never been a big fan of green tea either…I prefer fruit teas 🙂

    • February 7, 2015 / 2:20 pm

      Haha I totally understand the hassle part of it, especially because adding in things like honey sometimes feels like such a pain #solazy I’m with you though – fruit teas are some of my favorite!

  2. February 3, 2015 / 9:06 pm

    Nice! Thanks for sharing! I drink both coffee and tea but stop coffee after 2 cups in the morning. I save Black Tea for my afternoon kick! 🙂

    • February 7, 2015 / 2:22 pm

      I’m the same way! I tend to have a large cup of coffee in the mornings and leave black tea for an afternoon kick.

  3. February 4, 2015 / 9:46 am

    you’re the only other person besides me who i have heard say green tea upsets their stomach! it makes me feel SO WEIRD. i tell everyone this and they look at me like i’m clearly confused and speaking of the wrong tea…but nope. can’t do it, don’t like it. LOVE chai and early gray and all the black teas, but green is a fail for me. nice tea pix! 🙂

    • February 7, 2015 / 2:24 pm

      YES someone else shares my pain!! I actually know one other person like us who simply can’t tolerate green tea. It’s so weird! There must be something in the tea that irritates our stomaches (and makes me nauseous for ~5 minutes every time, no joke). Earl Grey is my absolute favorite!

  4. Katherine
    September 27, 2015 / 10:34 am

    I love your blog and I love tea too!

    I have a question though regarding a samovar. I’m learning Russian (though I took 2 years in College, I’ve forgotten a lot).

    I want to make Russian Samovar tea and I have a friend with one but there’s no instructions on how much zavarka to add to each glass/cup.

    I tried using 1/3 cup zavarka to an 8 oz glass but I think it’s too strong with the additional hot water added.

    Can you clarify how much you’d add (if you have experience).

    Thanks!

    • October 2, 2015 / 11:22 pm

      Hi Katherine! Thanks for stopping by. Traditionally, you make a very strong zavarka that you can easily dilute to your liking. I suspect 1/3 cup is a bit too strong for a small 8oz zavarka, perhaps you can try that amount per 16oz for better results and taste. We usually make a zavarka in a small teapot with about 1/4 cup of dried tea leaves and 16oz of water and keep it in the fridge for a week or so. Experiment a bit, you’ll figure out what you like best, good luck!