Real tea – black tea, oolong, green tea and white tea – come from the plant Camellia Sinensis or its variants, including camellia assamica. The natural antioxidants and their health benefits are present in these, equally potent although possibly with different benefits, in black, green, oolong and white teas. Yet there are ‘pretenders’ in the guise of ‘tea’ seeking to benefit from the growing popularity of tea as a healthy, natural beverage.
These are mainly infusions, which sometimes have their own medicinal properties, although rarely in same measure as with real tea. These are marketed under the generic name ‘tea’ and include Camomile, Rosehip with Hibiscus, Mate, Rooibos etc. – which are in fact very different to real tea.
Flavonoids in tea are the source of its antioxidant benefit. The ‘Sources of Flavonoids in the U.S. Diet Using USDA’s Updated Database on the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods’
(online at offers guidance on antioxidant rich foods drawn from hundreds of scientific studies. It states that :)http://afrsweb.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Articles/AICR06_flav.pdf
Flavonoids are biologically active polyphenolic compounds widely distributed in plants and have been linked to various chemoprotective effects (Nichenametla et al, 2006)…. Black tea provided the largest amount of flavonols to the diet (32%), followed by onions (25%)… Brewed tea provides the largest quantities of flavanols to the diet.
The detailed reference to tea (extract below) confirms the opinion of the Tea Research Institute’s Dr. R. L. Wickremasinghe who wrote that, “The unique composition of tea distinguish it from brews prepared from a variety of other vegetable materials.”
USDA Guide to Dietary Sources of Flavonoids
expressed in mg/serving
Black tea : 120-300
Green tea : 100-200
Red wine : 40-140
Tofu : 35-63
Apples : 6-15
Leaf lettuce : 17
USDA serving size ( Handbook 8 Balentine 2001)
Keep it real – certainly in the case of tea!