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Tea and Health: A General Info

Sonal ShrivastavaLast Seen: Apr 14, 2024 @ 10:49pm 22AprUTC
Sonal Shrivastava

29th February 2024 | 8 Views
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  • Tea is a popular and commonly consumed non alcoholic drink after water worldwide. It’s a tradition that originated in China.
  • China and India are two of the largest producers of tea in the world but they are not the largest consumers worldwide (Ridder, 2023). Turkey is the largest consumer of tea worldwide (World Population Review, 2022).
  • The USA invented tea bags in 1904.
  • Tea is produced from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. Its bioactive components have medicinal properties (Samanta, 2020).  
  • The most simple way to consume tea is by pouring hot water over cured leaves and straining the liquid to drink.
  • Tea is fermented to different degrees. There are many varieties of tea; some commonly consumed are yellow, oolong, black, and dark (Tang et al., 2019).  White and green tea are not fermented (Chu et al., 2015).
  • Tea contains bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, free amino acids, caffeine, and saponins. Green tea is a rich source of catechins, the main polyphenols.
  • Tea contains tannins, commonly known as tannic acid, which are present in abundance in tea plants (Chu et al., 2015). Tannic acid is a water-soluble polyphenol. They can bind with proteins.
  • Tea is diuretic; you feel an urge to urinate frequently. Regular and chronic consumption of tea results in dehydration (Reyes & Cornelis, 2018). Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Milk tea is becoming popular in India and China as it tastes palatable. It’s an addiction and can be a cause of depression and anxiety (Qu et al., 2023).  Adding milk to black tea reduces its antioxidant properties (Ryan & Petit, 2010).                                                                                       
Composition With Delicious Thai Tea Beverage

Bubble Tea | Source: Freepik 

  • Bubble tea, which contains milk or dairy cream, fruit juices, and chewy gelatinous ball candies made from tapioca,  is being considered a cause of depression and anxiety in China (Wu et al., 2022).  Long-term consumption of bubble tea with added sugar is not being considered healthy (Yao et al., 2022).
  • One study in the UK indicated that adding milk to black tea does not affect its positive outcomes for human health (Hollman et al., 2001). Another study indicated dairy products with green tea have a positive impact on the elderly. It helps in reducing skin wrinkles and roughness. It has anti-aging properties (Bhagat et al., 2019; Khan & Mukhtar, 2013).
  • Iron deficiency is a major global health problem because of the poor absorption of iron in the human diet. Iron enables red blood cells in the body to carry oxygen to different tissues. Iron deficiency results in tiredness (ODS, NIH, 2023).
  • Tea, especially when combined with milk if consumed after meals, interferes with the absorption of iron by the body. It impacts digestion too. Since the tea leaves are acidic, the tannic acid present in tea binds with the protein and iron content (non-heme) of food, which prevents their absorption by the body. Tannins form complexes with the iron content of food that the body cannot absorb, affecting digestion too.  Malabsorption may result in iron deficiency. Further, regular consumption of tea with advancing age can cause iron deficiency (Patrick Nyamemba Nyakundi et al., 2024).
  • Women and children are at greater risk of iron deficiency (World Health Organization, 2021), and those suffering from anemia should avoid tea immediately after meals. The pregnant and lactating mother must be more cautious about such drinks (Reyes & Cornelis, 2018). 
  • For iron-deficient people, tea should be consumed between two meals; there should be a gap of one or two hours (Patrick Nyamemba Nyakundi et al., 2024). 
  • If you frequently consume milk tea, then increase your intake of vitamin C-rich foods, which helps with iron absorption (Lynch & Cook, 1980).
  • Several studies have indicated that tea has beneficial effects, too. Drinking tea is also considered health-promoting. It acts as an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Moreover, green tea has cancer-preventive and anti-diabetic properties.  Besides, it helps in lowering cholesterol, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (Hayat et al., 2015; Tang et al., 2019; Khan & Mukhtar, 2013). 
  • Avoid drinking hot tea in plastic cups or mugs, as plastic releases toxic chemicals such as bisphenols. Further, many people are ingesting microplastics too, even through disposable paper cups. A thin layer of “hydrophobic film” containing plastic substances is used to connect these cups. Even paper cups are not good for drinking hot liquids (“Drinking Tea in Paper Cups Not Safe, Finds IIT-Kgp Study,” 2020).
  • You can consume decaffeinated tea (Lee, 2023).
  • Try to avoid adding cream, milk or sugar to tea, as it reduces polyphenol content (Harvard, 2019; Lee, 2023).

From the above points, you might be confused about whether drinking tea is beneficial or harmful. Overall, drinking tea with milk or without milk is your choice. You can make it to your taste. It is not harmful to human health as such. According to scientific research, tea contains many health-promoting qualities, as already mentioned. However, consuming milk tea or bubble tea with processed sugar as a sweetener can be risky for diabetic patients, iron-deficient people, and pregnant and lactating mothers, even when it is consumed frequently and regularly.  Addiction to any drink can be bad. So drink tea happily without making it an addiction.


  1. Ridder, M. (2023, September 26). Tea production by leading producing countries worldwide, 2018. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/264188/production-of-tea-by-main-producing-countries-since-2006/
  2. World Population Review. (2022). Tea Consumption by Country 2022. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/tea-consumption-by-country 
  3. Hayat, K., Iqbal, H., Malik, U., Bilal, U., & Mushtaq, S. (2015). Tea and its consumption: benefits and risks. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition55(7), 939–954. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2012.678949
  4. Zijp, I. M., Korver, O., & Tijburg, L. B. (2000). Effect of tea and other dietary factors on iron absorption. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition40(5), 371–398. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408690091189194
  5. Disler, P. B., Lynch, S. R., Charlton, R. W., Torrance, J. D., Bothwell, T. H., Walker, R. B., & Mayet, F. (1975). The effect of tea on iron absorption. Gut16(3), 193–200. https://doi.org/10.1136/gut.16.3.193
  6. Samanta S. (2022). Potential Bioactive Components and Health Promotional Benefits of Tea (Camellia sinensis). Journal of the American Nutrition Association41(1), 65–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2020.1827082
  7. Chu, X., Guo, Y., Xu, B., Li, W., Lin, Y., Sun, X., Ding, C., & Zhang, X. (2015). Effects of Tannic Acid, Green Tea and Red Wine on hERG Channels Expressed in HEK293 Cells. PloS one10(12), e0143797. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0143797
  8. Kaltwasser, J. P., Werner, E., Schalk, K., Hansen, C., Gottschalk, R., & Seidl, C. (1998). Clinical trial on the effect of regular tea drinking on iron accumulation in genetic hemochromatosis. Gut43(5), 699–704. https://doi.org/10.1136/gut.43.5.699
  9. Kashyap, S., Shivakumar, N., Varkey, A., Preston, T., Devi, S., & Kurpad, A. V. (2019). Co-ingestion of Black Tea Reduces the Indispensable Amino Acid digestibility of Hens’ Egg in Indian Adults. The Journal of nutrition149(8), 1363–1368. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz091
  10. Nelson, M., & Poulter, J. (2004). Impact of tea drinking on iron status in the UK: a review. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 17(1), 43–54. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-277x.2003.00497.x 

  11. ODS, NIH. (2023, August 17). Iron. U.S. Department of health and Human Services. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-Consumer/

  12. Hollman, P. C., Van Het Hof, K. H., Tijburg, L. B., & Katan, M. B. (2001). Addition of milk does not affect the absorption of flavonols from tea in man. Free radical research34(3), 297–300. https://doi.org/10.1080/10715760100300261
  13. Reyes, C., & Cornelis, M. (2018). Caffeine in the Diet: Country-Level Consumption and Guidelines. Nutrients, 10(11), 1772. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111772

  14. Qu, D., Zhang, X., Wang, J., Liu, B., Wen, X., Feng, Y., & Chen, R. (2023). New form of addiction: An emerging hazardous addiction problem of milk tea among youths. Journal of affective disorders341, 26–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2023.08.102
  15. Ryan, L., & Petit, S. (2010). Addition of whole, semiskimmed, and skimmed bovine milk reduces the total antioxidant capacity of black tea. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.)30(1), 14–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2009.11.005
  16. Bhagat, A. R., Delgado, A. M., Issaoui, M., Chammem, N., Fiorino, M., Pellerito, A., & Natalello, S. (2019). Review of the Role of Fluid Dairy in Delivery of Polyphenolic Compounds in the Diet: Chocolate Milk, Coffee Beverages, Matcha Green Tea, and Beyond. Journal of AOAC International102(5), 1365–1372. https://doi.org/10.5740/jaoacint.19-0129
  17. Tang, G. Y., Meng, X., Gan, R. Y., Zhao, C. N., Liu, Q., Feng, Y. B., Li, S., Wei, X. L., Atanasov, A. G., Corke, H., & Li, H. B. (2019). Health Functions and Related Molecular Mechanisms of Tea Components: An Update Review. International journal of molecular sciences20(24), 6196. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20246196
  18. Nyakundi, P. N., Kiio, J., Munyaka, A. W., Galgalo, D. A., & Lohner, S. (2024). Consumption Pattern of Tea is associated with Serum Ferritin Levels of Women of Childbearing Age in Nandi County, Kenya: A Cross-sectional Study. Annals of nutrition & metabolism, 10.1159/000536196. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1159/000536196

  19. Lynch, S. R., & Cook, J. D. (1980). Interaction of vitamin C and iron. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences355, 32–44. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1980.tb21325.x
  20. Yao, Y., Shi, S., Yang, Y., Luo, B., Li, M., Zhang, L., Yuan, X., Liu, H., & Zhang, K. (2022). Effects of chronic bubble tea administration on behavior and cognition in C57BL/6 mice. Frontiers in psychiatry13, 1044052. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.1044052

  21. Wu, Y., Lu, Y., & Xie, G. (2022). Bubble tea consumption and its association with mental health symptoms: An observational cross-sectional study on Chinese young adults. Journal of affective disorders299, 620–627. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.12.061
  22. Lee J. (2023). Association between Coffee and Green Tea Consumption and Iron Deficiency Anemia in Korea. Korean journal of family medicine44(2), 69–70. https://doi.org/10.4082/kjfm.44.2E
  23. Khan, N., & Mukhtar, H. (2013). Tea and health: studies in humans. Current pharmaceutical design19(34), 6141–6147. https://doi.org/10.2174/1381612811319340008
  24. Drinking tea in paper cups not safe, finds IIT-Kgp study. (2020, November 6). The Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/drinking-tea-in-paper-cups-not-safe-finds-iit-kgp-study/articleshow/79071016.cms

  25. Harvard. (2019, August 6). Tea. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/tea/

Sonal ShrivastavaLast Seen: Apr 14, 2024 @ 10:49pm 22AprUTC

Sonal Shrivastava



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