Our literature review of currently available data in the area of tea and cancer prevention demonstrated that there is more conclusive evidence for the chemopreventive effect of green tea compared with black tea. We suggest that this is due to a large variation of the flavanol content in tea, which is not taken into consideration in most of the epidemiological studies. It was the purpose of this study to determine the flavanol content of various teas and tea products and to correlate it with their radical scavenging activity. A modified oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay at pH 5.5 was utilized. The total flavavol content varied from 21.2 to 103.2 mg/g for regular teas and from 4.6 to 39.0 mg/g for decaffeinated teas. The ORAC value varied from 728 to 1686 trolox equivalents/g tea for regular teas and from 507 to 845 trolox equivalents/g for decaffeinated teas. There was a significant correlation of flavanol content to ORAC value (r = 0.79, P = 0.0001) for the teas and green tea extract. The large variation in flavanol content and ORAC value among various brands and types of tea provides critical information for investigators using tea in studies of nutrition and cancer prevention.