Historically, the medicinal use of green tea dates back to China 4700 years ago and drinking tea continues to be regarded traditionally in Asia as a general healthful practice. Numerous scientific publications now attest to the health benefits of both black and green teas, including clinical and epidemiological studies. Although all tea contains beneficial antioxidants, high-quality green and white teas have them in greater concentrations than black tea. Today, scientists believe that the main active ingredients of green tea include the polyphenols, in particular the catechins and the amino acid, theanine. Studies on the health benefits of drinking tea, particularly green tea, are finding exciting results, particularly in cancer research. Modern studies in both Asia and the West have provided encouraging results indicating that drinking green tea contributes to fighting many different kinds of cancers including stomach, oesophageal, ovarian and colon. Recent studies describing the health benefits of these compounds will be reviewed.