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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIH Study Suggests Health Benefits for Black Tea

An African-American woman wearing brimmed hat sits at table, smiling widely, with cup of black tea on table, trees behind.

Can black tea increase longevity?

Photo: Mimagephotography / Shutterstock

A prospective study of a half-million tea drinkers in the United Kingdom has shown that higher tea intake was associated with a modestly lowered risk of death. The study, led by NCI researchers, is a large and comprehensive analysis of the potential mortality benefits of drinking black tea, the most commonly consumed type of tea in the U.K.

Past studies finding a modest association between higher tea intake and lower risk of death have mainly focused on Asian populations, who commonly drink green tea. Studies on black tea have yielded mixed results. 

In the new study, researchers found that people who consumed 2 or more cups of tea per day had a 9 to 13 percent lower risk of death from any cause than people who did not drink tea. Higher tea consumption was also associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease and stroke. The association was seen regardless of preferred tea temperature, the addition of milk or sugar and genetic variations affecting the rate at which people metabolize caffeine. 

The findings, which appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that black tea, even at higher levels of intake, can be part of a healthy diet.

The study involved 498,043 men and women between ages 40 and 69 who participated in a large cohort study called UK Biobank. The participants were followed for about 11 years, and death information came from a linked database from the U.K. National Health Service.

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