Adding milk, lemon, or sugar to your tea will likely make a tea purist pop his top. The purist considers adding a spoonful of sugar to be the equivalent of wasting a perfectly good cup of tea, because you could get the same result by adding a spoonful of sugar to a cup of hot water. The sugar, milk or lemon simply overpowers the delicate flavor of tea. But aside from the connoisseur’s arguing over whether or not adding milk, sugar or lemon destroys tea’s flavor, some of these additives can actually destroy its health benefits as well.
Because of tea’s magnificent health benefits and antioxidants many people have worked it into their daily diets to help fight cardiovascular disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol levels, infection and impaired immune function. Then, with a simple dollop of milk, they negate all of those benefits.
Studies have shown that human artery function improved after a person had consumed up to a half a liter of black tea, helping to prevent cardiovascular problems. When milk was added to the tea, there was no improvement in the arteries. Milk contains a protein called casein that blocks the effect of the tea, so even the smallest addition of milk to your tea will negate its cardiovascular health benefits.
But take heart, if instead of milk you add a little twist of citrus peel to your hot tea, you could actually be protecting your skin against cancer. Studies have found that people afflicted with skin cancer drink significantly less hot tea than people with no skin cancer, and adding a citrus peel to the tea lead to a further 70% reduction in the disease.
As far as adding a little sugar to your tea, it does not seem to have any ill effect except on the taste of your tea (says the purist), and it helps keep your dentist in business!
Editor’s note: This was originally posted on our sister blog, which is being phased out. I am including a comment (as it appears on the other blog, typos and all) that corrects some of the above assertions. As always, this article should not be considered as medical advice.
Marlena, September 2nd, 2009 at 1:54 pm — About milk in tea – if you are referring to a study that made the tea rounds a few months ago, that was a scientifically unsound dtudy. First of all there were only 10 women in the studay – far too small a number to be statistically accurate. Second, it was not a study over time. Thirdly, the amount of milk in the tea was, as far as I could tell, a really large amount, which most people do not drink. I’d appreciate it if you would cite the study so we could check on it. Thanks, Marlena