Black tea and its special characteristics.

The marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza was the beginning Britain’s love affair with tea. A Portuguese princess and tea addict, she is attributed with establishing it as London’s fashionable beverage. Tea addiction led to Dr Johnson’s description: “Tea’s proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence.”

However, black tea became the national drink after the East India Company lost exclusive rights to import tea from China in the 1830s, leading to their creation of the first tea plantations in Assam in India. Before the end of the century more of this tea with its own special qualities was imported to England from India than tea from China.

With the ability to improve mood and prevent chronic illnesses, research has shown that the polyphenols in tea may aid in stopping the progression of certain cancers such as prostate, breast, lung and skin cancers. Studies also suggest regular consumption of black tea can reduce blood pressure. And while the effect is small, such effects could be important for cardiovascular health at population level. It also appears that black tea can neutralise the negative effects of high-fat meals on blood flow and blood pressure.

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