Addition of milk to tea infusions: Helpful or harmful? Evidence from in vitro and in vivo studies on antioxidant properties

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Oct 13;57(15):3188-3196. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1099515.


Tea consumption is practised as a tradition, and has shown potential to improve human health. Maximal uptake of tea antioxidants and milk proteins without a negative impact on tea flavor is highly desired by consumers. There is a conflicting evidence of the effect of milk addition to tea on antioxidant activity. Differences in the type of tea, the composition, type and amount of milk, preparation method of tea-milk infusions, the assays used to measure antioxidant activity, and sampling size likely account for different findings. Interactions between tea polyphenols and milk proteins, especially between catechins and caseins, could account for a decrease in antioxidant activity, although other mechanisms are also possible, given the similar effects between soy and bovine milk. The role of milk fat globules and the milk fat globule membrane surface is also important when considering interactions and loss of polyphenolic antioxidant activity, which has not been addressed in the literature.

Keywords: Polyphenols; antioxidant activity; bioavailability; chemical interactions; milk fat globules; milk proteins.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Caseins
  • Catechin
  • Cattle
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Polyphenols / chemistry*
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Antioxidants
  • Caseins
  • Polyphenols
  • Tea
  • Catechin