The function of tea, the health benefits of tea and natural, bioactive compounds in tea, as essential elements in a healthy lifestyle is best explained by the first line in Kakuzo Okakura’s 1906 philosophical treatise on tea, The Book of Tea. Okakura sums up the historical and ancient belief in tea as more than just a pleasing beverage by writing, "Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage."Scientific research confirms what Asians believed for centuries – that green and black tea contain powerful natural antioxidants which can protect regular tea drinkers from many degenerative diseases.The main degenerative diseases of concern today are heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Studies have shown that the antioxidant activity of flavonoids in green and black tea reduces the risk of many degenerative diseases and help maintain good oral health.

Is green tea better than black tea?

Both green tea and black tea are made from the tender shoots of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). The differences in the final product are due to the different methods employed in the processing of the tender shoots. In black tea the predominant class of water soluble polyphenolic compounds in tea shoots known as catechins is converted to theaflavins and thearubigins during processing while in green tea it remains unchanged. This is the major difference in the composition of green tea and black tea and the composition of other components are similar. Most of the beneficial properties of tea are due to the presence of high amounts of these polyphenolic compounds in tea. Research carried out so far indicate that polyphenolic compounds in both green tea and black tea have similar beneficial effects. Hence regular consumption of green or black tea will have similar benefits.

If I add milk to my tea will that reduce the health benefits of my tea?
Most of the beneficial properties of tea are due to the presence of high amounts of polyphenolic compounds in tea. When a cup of tea is consumed these polyphenols have to be absorbed from the digestive tract into the blood stream to impart the beneficial effects. Research carried out to find the absorption of polyphenols in tea with and without milk indicate that addition of milk does not alter the absorption of polyphenols. Therefore, addition of milk does not reduce the health benefits of tea.