What is Black Currant Tea?
Black currant tea is a caffeine free drink made from the leaves and the dried fruits from the black currant bush. A pungent, fruity drink, black currant tea has a full bodied fruit flavor similar to berries. It is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and offers a great deal of therapeutic value.
What are Black Currants?
Blackcurrants are known scientifically as Ribes nigrum are small, sour fruits that grow on a woody shrub belonging to the Grossulariaceae family. The shrub is native to large parts of Europe and also to Northern areas of Asia. It thrives best in damp, fertile soils and is cultivated for commercial and domestic use.
Black currants are especially rich in polyphenol phytochemicals and vitamin C and have a very high antioxidant value. These delicious little fruits are used in a wide variety of ways. You can eat them raw but they are a popular ingredient on jellies and jams and are also used to accompany various savory dishes.
The dried fruits are also used along with the leaves of the shrub to make a tasty, caffeine free and tremendously healthy tea. This article will take a detailed look at the health benefits you can get from adding blackcurrant tea to your diet.
Black Currant Nutrition
The fruit has long been used to treat a wide variety of health conditions. They are believed to help stimulate digestion while also improving organ function including the liver, pancreas, kidneys and the spleen.
Records of black currant being used for health purposes date back to the Medieval period. An abbot from the Dijon monastery in Southern France is believed to be the first man to understand and record their tonic qualities and benefits on human health.
Black currants contain a number of healthy constituents including the following:
- Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA)
- Vitamin C
- Potassium, iron, calcium, and phosphorus
- Other Antioxidants
- B-vitamins including thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (viatmin B6) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
What are The Health Benefits of Black Currant tea?
Very Rich In Vitamin C
Black currants are extremely rich in healthy vitamin C. A quarter cup of the fresh fruit equates to around a tablespoon of the dried fruit. A tablespoon of dried black currants possesses over 50 milligrams of the vitamin and is enough to make 2 cups of black currant tea.
Vitamin C has a great number of benefits to human health. It gives you an immune system boost which is useful during those times of year when colds and flu are more prevalent. It can also help with growth and repair of new cells and tissues in the body. Being a powerful antioxidant, the vitamin C found in black currant tea also helps protect the body from the damage done by environmental free radicals and other harmful toxins. Vitamin C is also great for your complexion.
Both the leaves and the dried fruit used to make black currant tea contain anthocyanins. They are a form of polyphenol which is extremely high in antioxidant value. A study conducted in 2002 discovered that extract taken from the fruit was both high in natural antioxidants and also had excellent anti-inflammatory abilities.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature of black currants and black currant tea makes it ideal for dealing with internal and external inflammation. For people suffering from joint inflammation like rheumatism or arthritis, black currant tea may be a suitable complementary therapy to go along with prescription medications. There is even some belief that black currant extract could be used as a replacement for prescription medications but more research is necessary first.
The anthocyanins mentioned earlier may also have the potential to inhibit or slow the growth of cancer cells. A study published in 2010 found that extracts of black currant as well as juices made from the fruit significantly reduced liver cancer cell proliferation. The researchers concluded that black currant extract may have future potential to prevent or treat cancer of the liver in humans and by extension may have applications against other forms of cancer.
Colds and Flu
A study published in 2014 demonstrated that an extract made from black currant leaves had anti-viral properties and was useful in preventing influenza and viral colds. The researchers concluded that black currant leaf extract helped prevent the influenza virus from proliferating especially during the early stage of the illness.
Coupled with its antioxidant and immune boosting abilities, drinking blackcurrant tea during the cold season may help protect your body against common viruses.
Antioxidants like the ones found in black currant tea are extremely good for the skin. They can help protect against premature aging and help protect against damage from those environmental free radicals that we all come across from day to day. Switching your regular caffeine based drinks for a healthy, antioxidant rich cup of black currant tea will have a major effect on your skin’s health in the long run.
Rich in Various Minerals
Black currants are extremely rich in a number of essential minerals. They contain a large amount of iron which helps strengthen the blood, the transport of oxygen to the cells and protect the body against various immune complications.
Black currants and black currant tea also contain calcium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. All of these minerals are essential to many of the body’s functions.
How Do you Make Black Currant Tea?
Black currants are delicious when eaten raw or served up as an ingredient in a jam or sweet sauce but they are absolutely perfect when they are infused and served up as a tea. You can enjoy the tea hot while it is also a great cold drink if you chill it over ice.
You can either make black currant tea with the leaves or the dried fruits or with both. Most commercial brands of black currant tea use both the leaves and the dried fruit.
To make the tea with the blackcurrant leaves:
- Add 2 teaspoons of your chopped leaves to a quarter liter of fresh water.
- Let the leaves steep for at least 10 minutes to get the maximum goodness from them.
- Strain and drink up.
To make a tea from dried blackcurrant fruits:
- Take a teaspoon of dried black currants and add them to a quarter liter of water.
- Put the water and the fruit in a pot and bring to the boil on your stove.
- Once the water has started to bubble, turn the heat off and allow your fruits to infuse for 20 to 30 minutes.
The best way to get the maximum benefits from your black currant tea is to mix the leaves together with the fruit and allow them to infuse together.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of black currant tea?
Black currant tea is jam packed with nutrition and comes with a wide variety of benefits to your health. The black currant fruit and the tea made from them is full of vitamins and minerals with excellent antioxidant potential. Drinking black currant tea can help boost your immune system, treat inflammation, keep colds and flu at bay, take care of your skin and may even help protect against serious diseases like cancer.
Is there caffeine in black currant tea?
No there is not. If you are concerned about the amount of caffeine you are getting from your regular black tea or coffee, then black currant tea is a great alternative. It contains no caffeine whatsoever.
Is black currant a grape?
Many people confuse black currants with raisins which are actually dried grapes. Black currants are not grapes and are totally different fruits belonging to entirely different families.
What is Black currant seed oil?
Black currant seed oil is an oil made by pressing the seeds of the fruit. It is a great source of Gamma-Linoleic Acid or GLA and also Alpha Linoleic Acid or ALA. Black currant seed oil is an excellent choice for people that are looking to fortify their diets with these fatty acids. They play a crucial role in a wide range of bodily functions including protecting the body’s tissues, regulating body temperature and insulating the nerves.
What vitamins are in black currants?
Black currants contain an enormous amount of healthy vitamin C but they are also rich in a variety of other vitamins and minerals. They also contain vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid, thiamin (B1) and pyridoxine (B6). Black currants are also a good source of minerals like iron, potassium, copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese.
The History of Black Currants
Black currants have been consumed for thousands of years and they also have a history of use as a natural remedy. they have been used for a wide range of health conditions ranging from arthritis and gout to colds and PMS symptoms.
These days, black currants are not especially popular but during the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, black currant was a very popular fruit in the USA. The census of 1920 estimated that farmers in the United States were devoting over 7000 hectares of land to black currants.
So why did black currants fall out of favor?
The main reason for the drop in consumption of the fruit is that they were found to be responsible for a fungus known as white pine blister rust. This fungus was responsible for killing the white pine tree. This caused significant problems since the white pine tree was an essential part of America’s lumber industry. By the end of the 1920s. millions of these trees had been destroyed by the blister rust. This, in turn, led to the government banning the cultivation of black currants.
These days, the white pine tree is not at risk. They now resist the disease and the growth and cultivation of black currants are now possible in most states. The federal government has lifted the ban but it remains in several states.
The story in Europe is quite different. In many countries on the continent, a popular juice called Ribena made from black currant has remained a best seller. During the second world war, Ribena was given to young children in the British Isles to protect against vitamin C deficiencies because so many citrus fruits could not be imported.
In Europe, black currants are still an extremely popular ingredient used to make jam, jelly, and juices. Recent estimates suggest that around 97% of the blackcurrants grown in the world are found on the continent.
Blackcurrant tea is a very healthy alternative to the caffeine-filled hot drinks that many of us enjoy. It is packed with vitamins and essential minerals and can help protect against and treat a good range of illnesses. While it may not be popular in the US, the fruit and juices made from the fruit have been used in Europe for centuries. As a lover of fruit teas, I would recommend black currant tea to anyone that feels like a healthy change from the norm.
Have you ever tried black currant tea?
What did you think of it and would you recommend it to others? Please let us know, we would be delighted to hear from you.