A large study found that a daily habit of drinking black tea can help you live a longer and healthier life, especially if you drink two or more cups.
The risk was lower among people who drank two or more cups of tea per day. The results were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Tea is one of the most consumed beverages around the world. Previous research suggested an association between tea consumption and a lower risk of death in the population, where green tea is the most common type of tea, as reported by Russia Today.
In contrast, studies published in communities where drinking black tea is more common are limited to inconsistent results.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health conducted a study to assess the associations of tea consumption with all-cause and cause-specific mortality using data from the UK Biobank, where black tea is commonly drunk.
They also assessed whether the associations differed by the use of common tea additives (milk and sugar), the temperature of the tea, and genetic variables that influence the rate of caffeine metabolism.
The UK Biobank includes data on half a million men and women, aged 40 to 69, who completed a baseline questionnaire between 2006 and 2010.
Of these, 85% reported drinking tea regularly, and 89% reported drinking black tea.
For non-tea drinkers, participants who reported drinking two or more cups each day had a 9 to 13% lower risk of death.
Associations were observed regardless of whether participants also drink coffee, add milk or sugar to tea, preferred tea temperature, or genetic variants related to caffeine metabolism.
According to the researchers, their findings suggest that tea, even when consumed at higher levels, can be part of a healthy diet.
An observational study cannot prove that tea, rather than other lifestyle factors, was behind the reduced risk of mortality.
But Professor Fernando Artalejo, a public health expert who was not involved in the study, described the findings as "a significant advance in this area".
He said most of the studies were conducted in Asia, where green tea is more popular, and a few studies in the West were "small in size and inconclusive".
Professor Artalejo, from the Autonomous University of Madrid, said: "This article shows that regular consumption of black tea is associated with a small reduction in overall cardiovascular disease mortality, in particular, over a 10-year period in middle-aged, mostly white, and older adults.
He continued: "Studies should be conducted with repeated measurements of tea consumption over time and comparing the mortality rate of those who do not consume tea on a sustainable basis with those who started or increased their consumption over time, and those who have been tea drinking for years."
Black tea is rich in antioxidants linked to improved heart, gut and brain health, lower levels of bad cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Tea is a rich source of healthy plant compounds called polyphenols, which work to control the harmful effects of cell-damaging molecules in the body.
These protective compounds have been linked to a reduced risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and dementia.
It may also contribute to improved brain function, bone density, mental health and may reduce the risk of premature brain aging.