Brewed tea (from the Camellia sinensis plant) is the second most commonly consumed beverage in the world, and its consumption has been associated with several human health benefits. Tea polyphenols are absorbed in the intestine following consumption and metabolized by both human and microbial systems to yield a mixture of complex metabolites that can be found in circulation and throughout the body. Identification of tea phenolic constituents and their metabolites has served to strengthen the association between tea consumption and specific health benefits, as well as to measure potential differences between tea product forms. The current state of research suggests that long-term consumption of tea and tea polyphenols may provide distinct health benefits, with the strongest associations being the promotion of cardiovascular health, as well as antidiabetic and antiobesity effects. However, much regarding tea and health remains to be discovered. This includes development of a better understanding of the role of abundant oxidized polyphenol forms in oolong and black tea, whose bioavailability and specific role in health benefits remain unknown. This technical summary focuses on tea polyphenol bioaccessibility/bioavailability, discusses potential bioactivity, and highlights studies that link tea consumption and health.
Thomas C. Haufe, MS, is currently product Development Scientist at Mead Johnson Nutrition Inc. Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg.
Kacie K. H. Y. Ho, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu.
Mario G. Ferruzzi, PhD, is a professor of food science and nutrition at the Plants for Human Health Institute, North Carolina State University, Kannapolis.
Andrew P. Neilson, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg.
Funding was provided by The Coca-Cola Company.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Correspondence: Andrew P. Neilson, PhD, 1981 Kraft Dr, Blacksburg, VA 24060 (firstname.lastname@example.org).