If you enjoy a cup of tea, you may be familiar with a type called Darjeeling that comes from India. Sometimes called the champagne of teas, Darjeeling is a black tea grown in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains and has a light, delicate flavor and aroma when brewed. Like all black teas, Darjeeling tea leaves are rolled and then oxidized, or fermented, before being ready to use. The leaves are rich in many different bioactive compounds, including several that may have significant health benefits.
All types of tea contain antioxidants, and black teas that are allowed to ferment during processing, like Darjeeling, are especially rich in several of these components, including two large, complex compounds called theaflavins and thearubigins. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, unstable and potentially harmful chemicals that form during digestion or in your organs when you're exposed to toxic compounds. Over time, free radicals can damage cellular membranes and DNA, raising your risk of chronic illness. A review paper published in the June 2005 issue of "Preventive Medicine" described how black tea neutralizes free radicals, calling tea a convenient source of these beneficial compounds that can be consumed daily.
The Linus Pauling Institute suggests that regularly consuming black tea such as Darjeeling might have benefits for your cardiovascular health. One study published in the October 2003 issue of the "Journal of Nutrition" found that drinking five servings of black tea daily lowered blood cholesterol significantly in subjects consuming a moderately low-fat diet, compared to nontea drinkers on the same diet. Black tea may also benefit your arteries, according to a study published in the July 2001 issue of "Circulation." The research involved subjects with coronary artery disease who drank either black tea or water daily for four weeks. The tea-drinking group experienced widening of arteries, compared to controls, potentially increasing blood flow to their organs. The positive effect of tea on arteries might also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease over time, according to institute, although more research is still needed to confirm this.
Benefits for Bones
Compounds in Darjeeling tea may also help increase the density of your bones. Several studies evaluated women who drink tea regularly and found they tend to have higher bone density, compared to nontea drinkers. A study published in the October 2007 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" included older women at risk for osteoporosis. It found that tea drinkers had about 3 percent higher bone density than other groups and, over a five-year period, tended to lose bone density more slowly than nontea drinkers. The authors concluded that consuming black tea is likely to strengthen bones, but larger clinical trials are still needed to confirm this.
Darjeeling tea is generally considered safe, but no minimum effective amount that benefits your health has been determined. The tea also contains caffeine, generally about one-half the amount in a cup of coffee, or 40 to 70 milligrams in an 8-ounce serving, depending on the strength of the tea. For some people, too much caffeine can make sleeping difficult, cause feelings of nervousness or increase heart rate. Limit your intake of caffeine if you're pregnant or breast-feeding, or opt for decaffeinated versions of Darjeeling tea. Adding milk to your tea might also reduce its effectiveness of its antioxidant compounds, according to current research. If you take prescription medications or have questions about the possible benefits of tea, talk to your doctor to determine if drinking Darjeeling tea might help you.
- UK Tea & Infusions Association: Teas from India and Sri Lanka
- Linus Pauling Institute: Tea
- Linus Pauling Institute: Tea and Chronic Disease Prevention
- Preventive Medicine: Antioxidative Properties of Black Tea
- Circulation: Short- and Long-Term Black Tea Consumptioin Reverses Endothelial Dysfunction in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Tea Drinking Is Associated With Benefits on Bone Density in Older Women
- Journal of Nutrition: Black Tea Consumption Reduces Total and LDL Cholesterol in Mildly Hypercholesterolemic Adults
- Medline Plus: Caffeine
- Nutrition Research: Addition of Whole, Semiskimmed, and Skimmed Bovine Milk Reduces the Total Antioxidant Capacity of Black Tea
Joanne Marie began writing professionally in 1981. Her work has appeared in health, medical and scientific publications such as Endocrinology and Journal of Cell Biology. She has also published in hobbyist offerings such as The Hobstarand The Bagpiper. Marie is a certified master gardener and has a Ph.D. in anatomy from Temple University School of Medicine.