My intent is for Tea Deviant to be a positive place to inspire curiosity and have fun while exploring, but I can’t ignore the proverbial elephant in the room. Considering COVID-19 still has a daily impact on our lives and a study on tea and the virus in vitro has been done I feel it’s worth sharing and hope you do too. I’m not interested in fake news. This is not about a definitive cure. It's about studies that show the potential for compounds found in tea to be helpful against the virus and staying informed.
In November 2020 Nara University in Japan conducted a study on the effect of catechins in black and green teas on COVID-19 in vitro. Various teas were used with the most effective being black tea brewed from tea leaves. The study showed that when that black tea was introduced to coronaviruses it reduced their ability to infect by 99% after one minute and 99.9% after 10 minutes.
I first saw news of this study on the Japanese Greentea Co website. I did some further searches, but could not find an abstract though I did find other articles:
“Nara University study finds some common teas can neutralize COVID-19”
“Detoxify the New Corona with Tea…”
Human beings are more complex than a petri dish in a controlled environment for sure. Still, this study combined with others on tea and COVID-19 along with tea and other illnesses have me thinking there is something to this idea.
Other Tea and COVID-19 Studies
Before the Japan study, in July 2020 the National Institute of Health released info on studies that focused on 2 tea polyphenols: EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) derived from green tea and theaflavins from black tea. In short, they found both to be worth studying more as they are bioactive with the ability to support physical health in multiple ways . Here is an excerpt :
“Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is one of the most abundant polyphenolic catechin found in Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze (tea plant), especially in green tea. EGCG has been tested for its antiviral activity against several viruses and found to be a potential treatment option over synthetic chemical drugs. It is recognized as a multi-functional bioactive molecule exhibiting antitumorigenic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidative, and antiproliferative properties in addition to its antiviral effects (Chacko et al., 2010). Theaflavins (TFs) are another class of polyphenols found in abundance in black tea. The TF derivatives found majorly in black tea are theaflavin (TF1), theaflavin-3-gallate (TF2A), theaflavin-3′-gallate (TF2B), and theaflavin-3,3′-digallate (TF3). All these TFs are being researched for their bioactive properties and are known for their broad-spectrum biological properties, like anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-bacterial properties. Since EGCG and TFs are of natural sources and consumed regularly by a majority of the population, investigating the anti-viral properties of these polyphenols against COVID-19 could be an advancement in finding a treatment to this latest pandemic.”
EGCG would not appear to be effective taken orally though:
“However, EGCG is unstable and when consumed orally has low bioavailability. It tends to get oxidized quite easily before it reaches the target. Hence, many studies have suggested structural derivatives of EGCG to enhance its bioavailability.”
Tea Fights the Common Cold and the Flu
In previous studies tea catechins have been found effective against other viruses including influenza and the common cold. They showed antiviral capability and immune support. References to studies done since the 90s indicate that drinking green tea with consistency reduces the chance of flu.
I think tea just feels good too, and feeling good has also been linked to higher immunity.
Does the addition of milk affect the benefits of these powerful tea compounds? I found this scientific review from 2015 that covered various studies on the effect of milk (even non-dairy) on the beneficial properties of tea. The studies referenced resulted in wide ranging results thought to be caused by variables like type of tea, brewing method, type of milk and ratio of tea to milk. Even though some studies indicated a positive effect, overall the review stated that milk in tea was more likely to have a masking or negative effect.
This article from Food Chemistry details that though regular sweeteners like sugar had a negative effect on antioxidants in tea, stevia did not. I am not ready to give up my raw honey in my morning tea, but I am happy to have my tea au naturel during the day. How about you?
Whether it’s the taste of your tea, the ritual of it, or the relationships forged over it I hope it brings you joy. We need every ounce of that to come out on the other side of this viral war intact.
Here are some more sources if you want to dig deeper:
"Green Tea" - Mount Sinai
"Research Suggests Black Tea Inhibits COVID-19"
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