A cup of tea could help prevent Covid-19


Regular tea drinkers can rejoice in the possibility that their cuppa could be helping them fight off the SARS-CoV-2 virus. — AFP

Known for its antioxidant properties and for being rich in polyphenols that help slow cell ageing, tea may have another, more surprising beneficial effect.

In fact, new research has found that certain teas can inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus in saliva.

From the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, a host of traditional remedies were touted as easy and often natural solutions for warding off the virus.

A slew of remedies and advice flooded social networks, including drinking hot water, taking a hot bath and sunbathing to kill the virus.

The scale of these erroneous recommendations was such that Unicef spoke out to warn people about misinformation relating to these so-called antidotes to Covid-19.

However, four years after the start of the pandemic, one of the remedies cited at the time is making a comeback, presented by an American researcher as a potential means of warding off SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

The remedy in question is tea.

But, contrary to the false claims made in 2020, it’s not because tea is a hot beverage that it could be a way of fighting the virus.

And not all teas are effective either.

In fact, only five varieties were identified by University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety virologist Dr Malak Esseili, as potentially inactivating SARS-CoV-2.

These are black tea, eucalyptus mint, a mint blend, raspberry zinger tea and green tea.

Published in the journal Food and Environmental Virology, this research suggests that the virus can be inactivated in saliva by certain teas.

“Inactivating SARS-CoV-2 in the mouth and the throat matters because that potentially reduces the introduction of the virus to the lower respiratory system,” the scientist explains in a news release.

A total of 24 types of tea were tested to verify the efficacy of this potential solution.

The experiments involved testing the tea as a drink and as a gargle.

In the latter case, the tea was deliberately brewed to a concentration four times higher than that of the drinkable beverage.

In 10 seconds of gargling, the five aforementioned varieties of tea reduced the virus by up to 99.9%.

However, when black tea was consumed as a drinkable infusion, it too reduced the virus by 99.9%.

For the other four teas, the virus was reduced by at least 96% after at least 10 seconds in the mouth.

It should be noted that all the preparations contained no additions such as milk, sugar or lemon.

This does not mean, however, that tea should be regarded as a replacement for medical care.

The American researcher makes it clear that “at this stage, we are not suggesting tea as a stand-alone intervention against SARS-CoV-2, because the virus also replicates in the nose and may have already reached the lung by the time a person tests positive.

“But tea can be an additional layer of intervention that the patients and their families can easily adopt on a routine basis.” – AFP Relaxnews

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