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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009 May;49(5):379-404. doi: 10.1080/10408390802068066.

A thought on the biological activities of black tea.

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  • 1Plantation Products, Spices and Flavour Technology Department, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, India.


Tea is the most widely used ancient beverage in the world and black tea possesses many biological effects on the organisms. It acts as an effective antioxidant because of its free radical-scavenging and metal-chelating ability. Due to this, it is active against inflammation, clastogenesis, and several types of cancer. Tea reduces DNA damage and mutagenesis due to oxidative stress or the presence of pro-mutagens through antioxidant function, blocking activation pathways of mutagens, suppressing transcription of enzymes involved etc. Inhibition of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) peroxidation, suppression of fatty acid synthase etc., suggest that tea may have a role in preventing cardiovascular diseases. Some epidemiological studies support the protective role of black tea against cardiovascular diseases but some do not. Besides, black tea has beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal tract; it affects motility, absorption, microflora etc., by influencing the hormonal balance and antioxidant function black tea improves bone mineral density. It is also antiviral due to its enzyme-inhibiting and receptor-blocking properties. Although its role in cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and prostate is confirmed, its effect against urinary tract cancer is uncertain and further studies are required. Apart from these, excess consumption may lead to the formation of a stained pellicle layer on teeth, which is difficult to eliminate, inhibits trypsin, influences mineral absorption, causes convulsions etc. Excess caffeine intake may have adverse effects on selected organs as reported in studies on some organisms. These reports indicate that there is a wide scope of further research for the efficient use of black tea active conserves/isolates to reap health benefits.

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