Black tea, like green, white and oolong tea, is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis. Black tea, however, is oxidized more than other types of tea made from this plant, giving its color and name. All teas made from the Camellia sinensis have different levels and varieties of polyphenols, antioxidants with a list of possible health benefits. Drinking enough tea to gain from these supposed benefits could be difficult; thus, extracts that preserve the active ingredients of black tea are available. Black tea extract is available in different forms, each of which could have potential advantages to one’s overall health.
Black tea extract can be purchased as pills, which include the powder form of the extract, or as tinctures mixed with water and sometimes alcohol. No studies have conclusively proved that either form has substantial health effects; thus, this extract is not recommended to treat disease or sickness. As a dietary supplement, however, it can provide many advantages.
There are five types of polyphenols, and they can each be found at different levels and chemical structures in various teas. While black tea shares many similar qualities of its more popular dietary supplement, green tea, black tea has lower levels of these supposedly healthful antioxidants. Green tea can have 30- to 40-percent of polyphenols, while black tea may contain only 3 to 10 percent due to the way it is processed.
Despite the fact that black tea has lower amounts of antioxidants, black tea extract is still believed to have positive effects on overall health and in preventing life-threatening conditions. Black tea extract does have catechins, including one special type called epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC), an antioxidant that recent studies pinpoint as possibly the most effective cancer-fighting polyphenol. Other antioxidants called flavonoids are also present in this extract. Studies have suggested that they can help reduce the possibility of specific types of cancer such as pancreatic cancer by targeting certain types of cancerous free radicals in the body. These polyphenols may also lower the risk for heart disease and stroke by decreasing the levels of unhealthy cholesterol.
Black tea extract has also shown evidence of helping to aid in weight loss. This is due to the metabolic effects of some of the polyphenols; when a person’s metabolic rate is raised, he can supposedly burn more calories even while at rest. The lower cholesterol levels and a tendency for black tea extract to improve circulation, increasing oxygen flow, possibly also support weight loss. One should consult a physician before introducing herbal supplements into the diet, as they can have adverse side effects.