Britons who drink several cups of English breakfast or Earl Grey tea a day tend to see lower risk of death compared to those who hardly drink the beverage, research published on Monday found.
The observational study, conducted by following nearly half a million people in the UK for 14 years, shows that people drinking two cups or more of black tea have seen a lower risk of death. Higher tea uptake is also associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to the study funded by the National Cancer Institute.
While tea is generally considered a healthy drink, earlier studies have only suggested links between healthier outcomes and frequent drinking of green tea, which is predominantly consumed in Asian countries such as China and Japan. The association between mortality and black tea was less definitive.
The UK study found that the lower mortality risk with higher tea consumption still holds among people who add milk and sugar into their tea and regardless of people’s ability to break down caffeine. Moderate tea drinkers appear to be healthier than those who consume large quantities. They are more likely to be non-smokers, consume less red and processed meats and tend to drink their tea at lower temperature, the researchers said.
There are some caveats to the study, however. Most participants in the study are predominantly white people so it’s still unknown whether such benefit also extends to other ethnic groups with different lifestyles and genetics.
Like any observational epidemiological study, it also does not definitively establish that tea is the cause of the lower mortality of tea drinkers, said Fernando Rodriguez Artalejo, professor of preventative medicine and public health at the Autonomous University of Madrid.
“This is because it cannot exclude that the lower mortality is due to other health factors associate with tea consumption,” he said.
Artalejo said the study also doesn’t address whether those who do not consume tea on a regular basis would improve their health if they started to drink the beverage.