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Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on June 07, 2012


National Institutes of Health American Cancer Society Harvard Medical School

© 2010 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

WebMD Archive

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Narrator: Tea could well be the world's most renowned drink.

: Are you going to have the light tea or the full tea?

Narrator: So important is this beverage that many cultures have designed ceremonies around it.

: Thank you, we have stressful jobs and we thought this would be a great way to relax in the afternoon.

Narrator: Today tea is more the rage than ever—as is made evident by the many teahouses that have cropped up in recent years and the ever-expanding selections found on store shelves. Many experts are drinking up what they see as a healthy trend:

Brunilda Nazario, MD: There have been studies that have shown that large consumption of tea can reduce the risk of alzheimer's, can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes, can even increase bone density.

Narrator: That's because teas are filled to the brim with antioxidants—microscopic compounds that rein in less friendly agents, called free radicals that can cause disease.

Brunilda Nazario, MD: Antioxidants are thought to stabilize these unstable molecules—these 'free radicals'.

Narrator: If left un-checked 'free radicals' can trigger a host of illnesses, like cancer, Parkinson's and heart disease. Bear in mind that popular herbal teas do not come from the actual tea plant itself and don't necessarily contain antioxidants.

Brunilda Nazario, MD: Based on the maturity of that leaf, and the processing of that leaf, you can create, white tea, green tea or black tea.

Narrator: Many believe white tea to contain the highest degree of antioxidants because it's the less processed tea, followed by green tea and then black. But all have significant amounts of disease-fighting agents, antioxidants and caffeine. Avoid large consumption of caffeine if you're pregnant or have high blood pressure and avoid green tea if you are on the blood thinner Coumadin. Otherwise, you don't need all the tea in China to get tea's healthy benefits, just about three cups a day would do it. For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg.

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