Discover The Health Benefits In Tea


Shutterstock / Pixel-Shot © Mum and adult daughter drinking tea together

There’s nothing better than sitting down to read your weekly “Friend” magazine with a hot cup of tea to hand. The feel-good stories are just the right length to enjoy with a cuppa, but did you know that there are health benefits to be found in tea, too?

A study, commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), has found that the health benefits of a cuppa differ across the generations. 

The report, Tea Health and Wellness Through the Ages, found six in ten young adults and eight in ten older people drink tea regularly. Traditional black tea was the firm favourite, but herbal and green teas more popular with the young. More 16 to 29-year-olds were also found to try out different teas. They were also more likely to use plant milks compared to the over-40s.  

Beneficial compounds found naturally in tea

A striking difference across the age ranges is the benefits that regular tea drinking brings.

Co-author of the report and registered dietitian from TAP – www.teaadvisorypanel.com – Dr Carrie Ruxton, comments:

“The beneficial compounds found naturally in tea seem to deliver different benefits to different age groups, according to the scientific evidence.

“Fluoride benefits dental health in children. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine – an amino acid – help to hone the concentration skills of teenagers sitting exams. Adults trying to manage their weight benefit from the polyphenols found in green tea which boost fat burning.  

“For middle-aged adults, regular tea drinking brings benefits to metabolic and heart health by lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Tea polyphenols support vascular health and have anti-inflammatory effects. In the oldest adults, drinking tea has been linked with slower cognitive decline.

Tea is a source of natural fluoride

“Tea is also a safe drink in pregnancy,” Dental expert Professor Robin Seymour adds.

“Not only is tea a source of natural fluoride which strengthens tooth enamel, but antibacterial polyphenols in tea suppress harmful oral bacteria which cause cavities. Further down the gut, tea boosts the more friendly species of bacteria which is beneficial for digestive comfort.”

However, the TAP poll found that around two thirds of adults were not aware of the clinically-proven health benefits of black and green teas.

Their focus, instead, was on the emotional aspects of mood, comfort and wellness.  

Did you know?

  • 81% say drinking tea puts them in a good mood
  • 76% drink tea to get them going first thing in the morning
  • 44% say a cuppa makes them feel calm
  • 36% think tea helps them to tackle a busy day
  • 34% say tea helps them to de-stress

“While it’s great that tea is widely recognised as a way to promote positive mood, it’s great to educate people about the health benefits,” co-author and GP from TAP, Dr Gill Jenkins, says. “These are well proven across hundreds of studies showing that tea is an essential part of healthy diets across the ages. 

“Looking at optimal tea intakes, the evidence supports an intake of around 3 to 4 cups a day. However, the TAP poll found that only 35% of younger adults were achieving this. Older adults were more likely to achieve ideal intakes – with 70-80% enjoying 3 to 4 cups a day.” 

Tea health benefits across the generations 

Teenagers – the sugar-free study aid: When studying for exams, a mug of tea is a healthier study aid than an energy drink. Tea is the only beverage that naturally contains L-theanine and caffeine which, working in combination, lead to improved alertness and focus while still maintaining a feeling of calm. 

Young adults – destress and focus: Tea has a unique effect amongst caffeinated beverages of stimulating alertness, focus and memory. While, at the same time, it instils feelings of relaxation. A clinical trial found that a green tea polyphenol, called EGCG, boosted brain activit while lowering stress. It also improved participants’ feelings of calm when compared with a placebo. 

Pregnancy & new mums – that ahhh feeling: Sitting down to a cup of tea is a good way to take time out. Women can feel reassured that the small amount of caffeine in tea is safe if they stick to a maximum of four cups a day. While breastfeeding, it’s important to stay hydrated so tea can supply essential fluid. Tea polyphenols are also good for gut bacteria. 

Tea for brain and cognitive health

Middle-aged adults – tea wellness essentials: Tea is believed to protect metabolic health by enhancing insulin action. It’s also good for scavenging free radicals (antioxidant effect). Tea drinking is also associated with better bone health. 

Older people – heart and brain benefits: In the UK, tea is one of the top three sources of polyphenols in the diet. These compounds have been linked in older people with brain and cognitive health. This is due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as their positive impact on blood vessel function. 

Visit the Tea Advisory Panel website for more information.


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Yvonne McKenzie

Yvonne works on the Features team and admits to being nosy, so loves looking after the Between Friends letters and finding out all about our lovely readers. She also looks after our health copy and enjoys writing about inspiring people that help make the articles in the magazine so interesting.