English breakfast tea is a full-bodied tea blend made from teas hailing from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Kenya, Indonesia, Assam and China. It is often drunk with milk or lemon. Because it is comprised of black teas, English breakfast tea benefits include antioxidants that boost overall health.
English breakfast tea, a blend of black teas, contains biologically active flavonoids that are being studied concerning their antioxidant properties. The tea may have anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and cholesterol-lowering properties.
English Breakfast Tea Benefits
English breakfast tea, like all tea, contains biologically active chemicals including flavonoids, caffeine, fluoride and theanine. Black teas contain more complex chemicals — theaflavins and thearubigins — derived from catechins, according to Harvard Men's Health Watch.
The fermentation process used to make tea boosts levels of polyphenols, including flavonoids that are also found in dark chocolate and other foods. Flavonoids in both black and green tea prevent oxidation of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, reduce blood clotting and improve widening of blood vessels in the heart.
A December 2016 article in the Journal of Nutritional Science detailed flavonoids' anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties coupled with their capacity to modulate key cellular enzyme function.
English breakfast, black and green teas also are being studied for their positive effects on weight loss and cancer prevention, although there is as yet no hard scientific evidence to support these claims. Tea may also contain cholesterol-lowering, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties and could contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, although this has not yet been scientifically proven.
Black Tea Vs. Green Tea
Each black tea variety has an individual flavor profile, but all are derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant, an evergreen shrub that grows in mountainous areas in China, India and other countries. Camellia sinesis also produces the leaves for Oolong and green teas. Different processing methods results in different types of tea.
In a Harvard Health Publishing Health Letter, the health differences between each type of tea are noted as occurring after the leaves are harvested and allowed to wilt. To make green tea, the leaves are quickly steamed or heated to stop oxidation, the chemical process that causes browning. To make black tea, the leaves are crushed, torn, curled or rolled and allowed to oxidize before being dried.
Read more: 5 Unexpected Benefits of Drinking Matcha Tea
Black tea's being slightly more processed degrades some of the flavonoids, so black tea has lower amounts of flavonoids than green tea. Taste-wise, green tea may be a bit more bitter and it is typically not drunk with milk or any additional sweeteners. You will often see English breakfast tea with milk or lemon.
Disadvantages of English Breakfast Tea
English breakfast tea, like other black teas, contains caffeine, ranging from about 20 to 45 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. Consumed in modest amounts, English breakfast tea — and black tea in general — is considered generally safe for most people.
However, drinking too much black tea, such as more than five cups per day, is possibly unsafe. High amounts of black tea can cause side effects because of its caffeine content, including headache, nervousness, sleep problems, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, irregular heartbeat, tremor, heartburn, dizziness, ringing in the ears, convulsions and confusion.
Flavonoids in tea can bind nonheme iron, inhibiting its intestinal absorption. It is advised that in order to maximize iron absorption from a meal or iron supplements, individuals with low iron levels should not consume tea at the same time.
If you are pregnant or are being treated for any sort of medical condition it's best to speak with your doctor before consuming English breakfast tea.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Flavonoids: The Secret to Health Benefits of Drinking Black and Green Tea?"
- Harvard Men's Health Watch: "Tea: A Cup of Good Health?
- South Dakota Department of Health: "The Health Benefits of Tea"
- Journal of Nutritional Science: "Flavonoids: An Overview"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Black Tea"
- Oregon State University: "Tea"