By Gillian Tsoi
We have long been a nation of tea-lovers, but a new study has revealed this can actually be good for us, as drinking eight cups a day could significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Research from the University of Western Australia has revealed that drinking up to eight cups of black leaf tea - such as English Breakfast or Earl Grey - every day significantly lowers blood pressure.
As part of the research, 95 volunteers (men and women aged between 35 and 75) were randomly divided into two groups.
Over a six-month period, one group drank three tea drinks every day. This tea contained 1,493 milligrams of powdered black tea solids, 429 milligrams of polyphenols and 96 milligrams of caffeine. This amounts to between eight and nine cups of tea a day per person.
The other group was given a placebo, which tasted like tea, had the same caffeine content, but did not contain tea solids.
Polyphenols are antioxidant plant chemicals that are said to have health benefits, including a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
At the time of commencing the study, the 95 participants had a normal systolic blood pressure ranging from 115 to 150.
Over the test period, those in the black tea solids group saw their systolic and diastolic blood pressure decrease by between two and three points compared with the placebo group.
If the experiment was translated to a wider population, it would suggest that the number of people with high blood pressure could be reduced by 10% and the risk of heart disease would fall by 7-10%.
Dr Jonathon Hodgson,who led the study, said: "There is already mounting evidence that tea is good for your heart health, but this is an important discovery because it demonstrates a link between tea and a major risk factor for heart disease."
It should be noted that this research is based on the consumption of black tea -milk or sugar were not added to the drinks.
The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.