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This could be just your cup of tea

Thursday 18 April, 2013 by Sarah

Brits are so serious about their tea that, at any given time, you can check the United Kingdom Tea Council website to see how many cups of tea have been consumed that day! The Council even holds ‘Tea Masterclasses', which, among other things, educate avid sippers on important tea facts such as the difference between Darjeeling and Ceylon. With such earnestness, it is hardly surprising that, as a nation, they consume a whopping 165 million (plus!) cups of tea every single day of the year.

In Australia we don't have such precise figures as our tea-drinking cousins in the UK, but in 2002 NationMaster.com ranked Australia the fifth largest nation of tea drinkers in the world behind the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Japan (based on annual kilograms of tea consumed per person).

While many of us associate tea drinking with an opportunity to take a little break in our busy schedule, studies in cell cultures and animal models have now linked tea intake with a possible reduction in the risk of cancer; meaning there could also be some medical benefits to tea consumption.

Certainly, tea is a rich source of antioxidants, an important component of a healthy diet, which makes having a ‘cuppa' a nod to good health.

Green tea, in particular, has shown the most benefits, with some studies suggesting it may lower the risk of colorectal cancer and could slightly reduce the risk for cancers of the prostate, breast and stomach. However, further evidence is needed before any solid conclusions can be drawn linking tea consumption with a reduction in cancer risk.

Lady with tea cup

Of course there is one way you can be sure drinking tea will help fight cancer, and that is to join Australia's Biggest Morning Tea. Gather together your friends or colleagues and help raise money to fund vital cancer research and support programs.

Since it began in 1994, Australia's Biggest Morning Tea has raised more than $20 million for Cancer Council Victoria's research, prevention and support services – helping to increase cancer survival rates by almost 20 per cent. And, with the number of new cancer diagnoses increasing each year, a cuppa for cancer is just the ticket to support the 78 Victorians who are diagnosed with cancer every day.

Register your event, set a date (any time in May but Thursday, 23 May is the official date) and invite your friends for morning tea. In return, your guests make a donation to the Cancer Council. Every dollar raised makes a difference – whether it's from a simple get together with colleagues or an extravagant high tea with friends and family.

Host an Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, and help the Cancer Council fight cancer. To register, text ‘tea' to 0400 867 867 or visit www.biggestmorningtea.com.au

Things you didn't know about tea...

  • About three billion kilograms of tea are produced and consumed yearly worldwide.
  • The three main types of tea – green, black and oolong – are made via different processing methods. Approximately 76 per cent of the tea produced and consumed worldwide is black, 22 per cent is green and less than 2 per cent is oolong.
  • To draw the best flavour out of the tea the water must contain oxygen – this is reduced if the water is boiled more than once.
  • Avoid placing tea next to strongly flavoured or perfumed foods as it can change the taste of the tea.
  • Eighty per cent of office workers in the UK – the land of tea – claim they discover more about what's going on at work over a cup of tea than in any other way.
  • The term ‘teetotal' is believed to have been coined in England during the 1800s as a result of the Temperance movement's battle against alcohol. Tea meetings were held all over the country in an attempt to convert alcohol drinkers to tea and reduce the high levels of alcohol consumption. The legacy lives on, with tea being the second most widely consumed beverage in the world after water.

Cancer Council recommends caution in the consumption of tea or other beverages at very high temperatures, due to the risk of scalding and the evidence that very hot tea (55–67ºC) may increase the risk of oesophageal cancer.

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