Background: Tea has long been believed to possess hypotensive effects in popular Chinese medicine. However, conflicting results have been shown among human trials and animal studies on the relation between tea consumption and blood pressure. Epidemiological evidence about the long-term effect of tea on hypertensive risk is also inconsistent.
Methods: We examined the effect of tea drinking, measured in detail for the past decades, on the risk of newly diagnosed hypertension in 1507 subjects (711 men and 796 women), 20 years or older, who did not have a hypertensive history during 1996 in Taiwan.
Results: Six hundred subjects (39.8%) were habitual tea drinkers, defined by tea consumption of 120 mL/d or more for at least 1 year. Compared with nonhabitual tea drinkers, the risk of developing hypertension decreased by 46% for those who drank 120 to 599 mL/d and was further reduced by 65% for those who drank 600 mL/d or more after carefully adjusting for age, sex, socioeconomic status, family history of hypertension, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, lifestyle factors (total physical activity, high sodium intake, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and coffee drinking), and dietary factors (vegetable, fruit, unrefined grain, fish, milk, visible-fat food, and deep fried food intake). However, tea consumption for more than 1 year was not associated with a further reduction of hypertension risk.
Conclusion: Habitual moderate strength green or oolong tea consumption, 120 mL/d or more for 1 year, significantly reduces the risk of developing hypertension in the Chinese population.