Health Functions and Related Molecular Mechanisms of Tea Components: An Update Review

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Dec 8;20(24):6196. doi: 10.3390/ijms20246196.


Tea is widely consumed all over the world. Generally, tea is divided into six categories: White, green, yellow, oolong, black, and dark teas, based on the fermentation degree. Tea contains abundant phytochemicals, such as polyphenols, pigments, polysaccharides, alkaloids, free amino acids, and saponins. However, the bioavailability of tea phytochemicals is relatively low. Thus, some novel technologies like nanotechnology have been developed to improve the bioavailability of tea bioactive components and consequently enhance the bioactivity. So far, many studies have demonstrated that tea shows various health functions, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immuno-regulatory, anticancer, cardiovascular-protective, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, and hepato-protective effects. Moreover, it is also considered that drinking tea is safe to humans, since reports about the severe adverse effects of tea consumption are rare. In order to provide a better understanding of tea and its health potential, this review summarizes and discusses recent literature on the bioactive components, bioavailability, health functions, and safety issues of tea, with special attention paid to the related molecular mechanisms of tea health functions.

Keywords: Camellia sinensis; bioavailability; catechins; health benefits; phytochemicals; safety; tea.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Biological Availability
  • Catechin / metabolism
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Phytochemicals / metabolism
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacokinetics
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • Polyphenols / metabolism
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Phytochemicals
  • Polyphenols
  • Protective Agents
  • Tea
  • Catechin