Drinking just two cups of tea per day could lower your risk of mortality by 10 per cent, a study suggests.
People who consume two or more cups per day had between a nine per cent and 13 per cent lower risk of mortality when compared to those who do not drink tea, researchers said.
The findings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also suggested that the result was the same no matter whether someone also drank coffee, added milk or sugar, what their preferred tea temperature was, or whether there were genetic variants involved affecting the rate at which caffeine was metabolised.
The researchers, from the National Institutes of Health, used data from the UK Biobank, which revealed that 85 per cent of men and women in the study aged 40 to 69 report that they regularly drink tea. Of those, 89 per cent said they drank black tea.
The study was conducted with a questionnaire answered from 2006 to 2010 and followed up over more than a decade.
'Substantive advance in the field'
Fernando Rodriguez Artalejo, professor of preventive medicine and public health at the Autonomous University of Madrid, described the research as representing "a substantial advance in the field".
He said that most previous studies had been done in Asia, where green tea is the most widely consumed, and the few outside Asia were "small in size and inconclusive in their results".
"This article shows that regular consumption of black tea (the most widely consumed tea in Europe) is associated with a modest reduction in total and, especially, cardiovascular disease mortality over 10 years in a middle-aged, mostly white, adult general population," he said.
He added that the study does not definitively establish that tea is the cause of the lower mortality of tea drinkers, because it cannot exclude that this is down to other health factors associated with tea consumption.
Another question that remains unanswered is whether people who do not drink tea should start doing so to improve their health.
"Studies should be done with repeated measurements of tea consumption over time and compare the mortality of those who do not consume tea on a sustained basis with that of those who have started to consume tea or have increased their consumption over time, and those who have been drinking tea for years," he said.