Aug. 30, 2022 – Drinking tea has several reported health benefits, but most studies have been done in regions where green tea is more popular. But new data from Britain – where there is a strong tradition of afternoon tea – now shows that black tea is also associated with health benefits.

The findings come from a study of nearly 500,000 people who participate in the U.K. Biobank, which has collected data on people’s behaviors for 20 years. For this study, researchers looked at people who say they regularly drink black tea. The data suggests that drinking black tea may be linked to a moderately lower risk of death from all causes. And the risk was lowest among those who drink two or more cups of tea a day.

The study was published online Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

After about 11 years, the data shows that those who drank at least two cups of tea each day had a lower all-cause death risk, reported Maki Inoue-Choi, PhD, and colleagues from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Drinking tea was also tied to lower rates of death from cardiovascular diseases, like coronary heart disease and stroke. But the researchers said that “[n]o clear trend was seen for cancer or respiratory disease deaths.

There is “no clear answer” as to why no association was observed between tea consumption and cancer deaths, Inoue-Choi said.

The effects were present regardless of whether milk or sugar was added to tea, tea temperature, or genetic differences in caffeine metabolism among participants, she said.

She and her colleagues controlled for these factors, as well as others, including coffee consumption and baseline health and demographic characteristics.

The nearly 500,000 study participants were, on average, 56.5 years old. About 85% reported drinking tea, and 90% reported drinking black tea.

A limitation of the study is the lack of information on certain aspects of tea intake, such as portion size and tea strength, the authors said.

Tea is among the most frequently consumed beverages worldwide, and studies from places where green tea is popular, like China and Japan, have shown health benefits. But data from places where black tea is more common have been rare and have provided conflicting results, Inoue-Choi said.

“While these findings may offer reassurance to tea drinkers, they do not indicate that people should start drinking tea or change their tea consumption for health benefits,” she said, noting that more studies on this topic are needed.