Photo by Manki Kim 

World-wide research reveals the health benefits of the planet’s favourite hot drink.

Sharing a cuppa with family and friends has some amazing hidden health benefits. From improving your heart health to supporting the immune system, tea delivers much more than a warming cup of cheer.

So why not put the kettle on, make a brew and enjoy the science behind the world’s second favourite drink.

Here are our reasons why black tea is so very good for you:

  1. Blood pressure: There is growing evidence that black tea and the highly valuable flavonoids it contains may make an important contribution to vascular wellbeing. Australian research has shown that tea drinking can result in lower blood pressure. One study found three cups of tea a day for six months could reduce blood pressure in those tested.
  2. Packed with antioxidants: These have been shown to decrease cell damage in the body and may reduce the risk of chronic illness. Research from the Copenhagen University Hospital has shown that it is better to consume vital antioxidants through food and drink.
  3. Gut health: The polyphenols (antioxidants) found in black tea can destroy harmful substances and may improve gut bacteria and immunity by promoting the growth of good bacteria, while slowing the growth of bacteria such as salmonella, according to scientists in Spain.
  4. Stroke: Extensive studies in Sweden have shown that people who drank four or more cups of black tea a day were a third less likely to suffer a stroke than those who did not drink tea. A later review of nine further studies with almost 200,000 participants backed those findings of reduced stroke risk.
  5. Cancer: There has been some success by Taiwanese university researchers showing that the polyphenols in black tea help to overcome the spread of hormone-related breast cancers. More work needs to be done but there has been some evidence to suggest a decrease in cancer cell development.
  6. Focus: Tea contains caffeine and the amino acid L-theanine which increases relaxation and improves focus on tasks and alertness. Participants in a study by psychologists at the University of Australia demonstrated that they were better able to remain alert throughout the day.
  7. Cholesterol: LDL cholesterol is the ‘bad’ lipoprotein that carries cholesterol to the body’s cells. If there is too much the body will store it and it will lead to furred arteries which lead to heart failure and stroke. One three-month study in the USA showed that those who drank black tea showed a significant decrease in their LDL levels.
  8. Heart health: Flavonoidpacked black tea shares the same healthy properties as red wine, dark chocolate, and vegetables. Two respected studies showed that drinking black tea reduced the chance of developing heart disease by 11%. And finally: Did we mention how tasty and easy it was to make? Perhaps this is why tea is the world’s second favourite drink, after water of course.

What the NHS says: It’s fine to drink tea as part of a balanced diet. Bear in mind, though, that caffeinated drinks can make the body produce urine more quickly. Some people are more susceptible to this than others, but it also depends on how much caffeine you have and how often you have it. 

Low-caffeine fruit or herbal teas can sometimes help.

But if you drink tea with sugar you could be damaging your teeth and adding unhelpful calories to your diet.