Enjoying a regular cuppa could help keep the doctor away

Time for Tea

An increasing body of scientific evidence suggests that the humble cuppa has a wide range of health-promoting properties. Like fruit and vegetables, tea is a rich source of disease-fighting antioxidants, such as polyphenols and flavonoids that can strengthen the body’s defences, enhance memory and even assist with weight management.

Get heart smart

Polyphenols in tea – particularly in green tea – have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation in the body and protect against heart disease1. What’s more, black tea can lessen your stress levels and lower your blood pressure2.

Reducing the risk of cancer

An Australian study has demonstrated that women drinking green or black tea may have a reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer3. And researchers in Japan have found that drinking up to 10 cups of green tea a day may slow the growth of various types of cancer, reduce its spread and even prevent its occurrence4.

Cleverer with a cuppa

Vanessa Carswell, Co-director of boutique tea company She-Tea, explains that a daily brew can also benefit the brain. “The Tea Advisory Panel itself reports that drinking two cups of black tea a day improves cognitive function and helps focus attention during a challenging mental task,” she says. “And the good news is that adding milk doesn’t affect your absorption of flavonoids.”

Go green and maintain your weight

Research indicates that antioxidants called catechins found in green tea can help to increase your metabolism and delay absorption of fat in the gut5

“Many people find green tea can be bitter,” says Carswell. “The key is to let the water cool for about five minutes after boiling and then let it brew for one to three minutes after adding to the tea. This makes for an enjoyable cuppa and you get all of the brilliant benefits without the bitterness.”

Know your teas

There are five main types of tea, all of which are made from the leaves of the shrub Camellia sinensis. The main differences between the teas lie in their degree of oxidation by fermentation and the quantity of caffeine they contain.

  • Black tea is fully fermented in a process that involves exposure to heat, light and crushing. 
  • Green tea is partially fermented and made by quickly steaming or heating the leaves after picking.
  • Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea, a cross between a green and a black tea.
  • White tea is made with minimal processing of young new leaves and is packed with antioxidants.
  • Herbal teas or tisanes are made from herbs, fruits and spices and contain no caffeine.



  1. Yang CS, Hong J, Hou Z, Sang S, ‘Green tea polyphenols: antioxidative and prooxidative effects’, Journal of Nutrition 134 (11): 3181S (November 2004)
  2. Effects of Black Tea on Blood Pressure: A Randomized Controlled Trial http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1108657
  3. Nagle CM, Olsen CM, Bain CJ, Whiteman DC, Green AC, Webb PM, ‘Tea consumption and risk of ovarian cancer’, Cancer Causes Control 21(9):1485-91 (September 2010)
  4. Saitama Cancer Center Research Institute, 'Japanese green tea as a cancer preventive in humans', Nutrition Reviews 54: S67–S70
  5. ‘Epigallocatechin-3-gallate inhibits pancreatic lipase and reduces body weight gain in high fat-fed obese mice’, Obesity 20: 2311–2313 (November 2012)
Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.