FAQ: Is Black Tea Okay to Drink When You Have a Cold?

FAQ: Is Black Tea Okay to Drink When You Have a Cold?

We all get sick sometimes. Trying to avoid every illness is a fool's errand since no one can claim to be so healthy that they have never gotten sick. This is not to say that everyone will develop a major illness affecting them for life, though it seems increasingly rare to avoid that fate. The one thing no one seems to avoid is catching minor ailments such as viruses or infections that last a short time but are commonly seen in our society. 

Certain illnesses are more common than others, but none of them tend to have a major impact on our overall health, and we can recover from them fairly easily. One of the most common examples of these illnesses is the common cold, which is a minor illness that affects everyone at some point.

Enduring the common cold is unpleasant, but it is rarely severe enough to diminish your health permanently. Most bouts of the common cold are temporary and fade with rest and possibly medication. When we are sick, we are told that we must avoid certain foods, drinks, and activities that might exacerbate our symptoms. We are told to avoid many things common sense, but others are slightly vaguer. People are concerned about the consumption of black tea, which they fear will exacerbate their symptoms. So, you might be wondering whether black tea is harmful when we have a cold.

What is the Common Cold?

This might seem like a silly question, but many people do not know the particulars of how the common cold works or the full extent of the symptoms. Knowing the distinguishing factors of the common cold has become more important than ever, given the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic generated a large amount of paranoia and hypochondria in citizens who feared the virus. 

While COVID-19 is now a part of our lives, many still panic about catching it and suffering the symptoms. Unfortunately, the early stages of the virus are reminiscent of the common cold, so knowing how the latter works and what to expect can help ease your mind. The first thing to know is that the common cold is caused by upper respiratory tract infections, requiring the presence of microbial organisms. Considering the abundance of germs and microbes, experiencing an infection is extremely likely unless you live in a sanitized room and never leave the house.

Woman With a Cold

Fortunately, the common cold is easy to treat and will not cause long-term complications unless you do nothing to treat it. Generally, people recover from the common cold within 7 to 10 days, so it will not inhibit you for long. If you are a frequent smoker, the condition might last longer than normal since inhaling smoke compromises your respiratory system. Still, you will likely recover from the cold without major complications. Another distinguishing factor is the symptoms associated with the common cold, most of which are very similar to the initial symptoms of COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses. These include:

  • A runny or stuffy nose.
  • Sore or scratchy throat.
  • Chronic coughing.
  • Chronic sneezing.
  • Mild body aches or headaches.
  • A low-grade fever.

Recovering from the common cold is unpleasant, but it is usually easy since we are designed to resist the effects of minor infections and illnesses like this. Unfortunately, we sometimes need a little help recovering from the effects of our illnesses and cannot rely entirely on our immune system to survive the symptoms. We often employ certain foods and drinks that are easier to stomach when our respiratory system is compromised. You likely remember eating chicken soup while you were sick as a child, but you might be curious about where black tea fits in this equation.

What is Black Tea?

You have almost certainly had tea at some point in your life, though you might not have been as discerning about the type of tea you were drinking. Tea is more diverse than people realize and can be created from various plants with certain characteristics. The more exotic teas are from equally exotic plants that most people have never heard of, but the most common plant used for tea is Camellia sinensis

C. sinensis, more commonly called the tea plant, is the source of multiple tea varieties that are commonly consumed. Specifically, C. sinensis leaves are known for producing white, green, white, oolong, and black tea. Each of these tea varieties has slightly different flavor profiles and nutrient concentrations. Green tea is the most common variety harvested from C. sinensis, but black tea is considered one of the most potent and slightly more valuable (though matcha is considered the ultimate product of C. sinensis in many circles).

A Pot of Black Tea

Black tea (called red tea in several East Asian languages) is a more concentrated tea variety that is less common but considered more powerful than the more mundane tea varieties from C. sinensis. Black tea is so popular because it is more oxidized than the others harvested from the plant. The extra oxidation influences black tea's flavor and enhances the nutrients present in the leaves. This gives black tea an advantage over its counterparts and makes it slightly more valuable nutritionally compared to other forms of tea. 

Black tea's biggest advantage over green tea is that it retains its flavor for longer. Green tea's flavor fades within 1 year, whereas black tea can maintain its flavor for several years due to its higher oxidation.

Black tea can be somewhat harsh on sensitive palates, making it an acquired taste. The intense flavors of black tea can also make it hard to stomach them when you are ill or facing health problems. The flavor drives people to avoid black tea since they struggle to accept it without moderating it with sugar or honey. Some assume the intense flavor will exacerbate their illnesses and make it harder for them to recover. This sentiment extends to people with colds, who believe the intense flavor will further compromise their respiratory system since the taste can sometimes overwhelm our ability to breathe. This begs the question: can black tea safely be consumed while you have a common cold?

Is Black Tea Safe to Drink With a Cold?

The common cold can make it harder for us to breathe since we experience congestion and other symptoms that are highly unpleasant. As a result, we tend to avoid things that exacerbate our discomfort by limiting our diet and minimizing our physical exertion. Bed rest and light meals are considered the best tools for recovering from a cold, alongside any medications prescribed by a doctor. 

Some people already employ tea to relieve their cold symptoms, but stronger teas can be hard to stomach when sick. This has led some people to believe drinking black tea while sick is detrimental to recovery. While this concern is understandable, it is completely unfounded and is perfectly safe for people to drink while dealing with cold symptoms. Many people drink tea while dealing with respiratory tract infections since one of the most common symptoms is a sore throat.

Woman With a Cold Drinking Tea

The different teas are extremely effective for soothing our minds and bodies, with some being more common than others. Black tea is often used as a heavy-duty alternative to less intense teas because its profile is much stronger. The main component of teas that make them so valuable is their polyphenol concentration, specifically epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which provides extreme protection against certain hostile organisms and elements. As a result, black tea is completely safe to consume while sick, but the main concern is ensuring you do not overconsume it. 

Overconsuming black tea (or any tea) can make you sick since each cup has an extremely powerful stimulant called caffeine. While most cups of tea do not have as much caffeine as a cup of coffee or energy drink, it is possible to overexert your body by consuming too much.

Thankfully, there are only 47 milligrams of caffeine in a cup of black tea, and the daily recommended intake (per the Food and Drug Administration) is 400 milligrams. Therefore, you would have to drink 9 full cups to exceed the recommended intake. Considering there are not many people who could stomach that much tea in one day, the odds of you consuming enough black tea to suffer a caffeine spike are very slim. That said, knowing that black tea is safe to drink while you have a cold is only one part of the question. The next, and arguably most important, question is: what benefits does black tea provide?

What Are the Benefits of Black Tea?

Drinking tea for a cold is a common tool that people use when their congestion or sore throats are overpowering. Green tea is the usual choice for most people, but black tea can be equally effective at soothing your symptoms. In fact, many people claim that black tea is more effective, and they might be right. We mentioned earlier that black tea is more oxidized than green tea, meaning its nutrient value is elevated and more concentrated than green tea. This has allowed black tea to impart the same benefits as its cousins with more efficiency. 

The common cold causes several symptoms, many of which are disregarded since they are considered secondary. However, addressing these secondary symptoms alleviates the severity of the primary symptoms. For example, one of the main effects of the common cold is that it introduces free radicals to the body that can cause oxidative damage. In extreme cases, oxidative damage can affect our health on a DNA level, though it is rare for the damage caused by the common cold to get that severe.

A Cup of Black Tea

Protecting our bodies from free radicals requires access to antioxidant compounds that can counteract them. Antioxidants are frequently marketed as health-bolstering supplements, but their main function is preventing oxidative damage by repelling free radicals. Black tea is extremely effective at fighting these free radicals, thanks to the EGCG we mentioned earlier. Catechins come from a family of molecules called polyphenols, which are extremely powerful antioxidants. The antioxidants in black tea can protect you from the free radicals introduced by your cold, preventing additional damage to your body.

Additionally, black tea's antioxidants are anti-inflammatory, meaning they reduce irritation in the body. When we get a cold, our sore throats are caused by an inflammatory response that our bodies trigger to expel the infection. Unfortunately, the inflammation process is very painful and makes it hard to swallow or speak. The antioxidants in black tea can reduce this inflammation and make it easier to regain our ability to speak and consume solid foods. These benefits, combined with several other traits found in tea, mean drinking black tea with a cold is safe and can help us combat the symptoms. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge is acquiring quality black tea leaves that can impart these benefits effectively.

Finding the Right Blend

Black tea is an extremely effective addition to our diet and can provide significant benefits when consumed responsibly. While we are always a little more cautious when faced with an illness, black tea is completely safe to drink while dealing with a cold. The risks associated with tea consumption are minimal and would require you to overconsume it, which is hard to do unless you set out to do it. Otherwise, there is no risk associated with black tea or any other variety you care to consume. The trick is finding a black tea blend that is reliable and specifically tailored to maximize its natural abilities.

Teami Blends Profit Tea Blend

We at Teami have always believed in the benefits of tea consumption, especially when the blend takes advantage of the nutrients native to tea leaves. That is why we have cultivated a catalog of several tea blends from different sources, including black tea leaves. One of our leading products is our Profit Tea Blend, which provides all the benefits of black tea alongside a few other plants that synergize with it. We encourage you to visit our website and find the tea that suits your needs. After all, finding the right blend is a Teami effort.

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