Antiviral activity of green tea and black tea polyphenols in prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19: A review

Phytomedicine. 2021 May;85:153286. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2020.153286. Epub 2020 Jul 17.


Background: The rapid spread of novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 or nCoV has caused countries all over the world to impose lockdowns and undertake stringent preventive measures. This new positive-sense single-stranded RNA strain of coronavirus spreads through droplets of saliva and nasal discharge.

Purpose: US FDA has authorized the emergency use of Remdesivir looking at the increasing number of cases of COVID-19, however there is still no drug approved to treat COVID-19. An alternative way of treatment could be the use of naturally derived molecules with known antiviral properties.

Method: We reviewed the antiviral activities of two polyphenols derived from tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) from green tea and theaflavins from black tea. Both green tea and black tea polyphenols have been reported to exhibit antiviral activities against various viruses, especially positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses.

Results: Recent studies have revealed the possible binding sites present on SARS-CoV-2 and studied their interactions with tea polyphenols. EGCG and theaflavins, especially theaflavin-3,3'-digallate (TF3) have shown a significant interaction with the receptors under consideration in this review. Some docking studies further emphasize on the activity of these polyphenols against COVID-19.

Conclusion: This review summarizes the available reports and evidences which support the use of tea polyphenols as potential candidates in prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; EGCG; SARS-CoV-2; Tea polyphenols; Theaflavin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biflavonoids / pharmacology
  • Binding Sites
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Antioxidants
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Biflavonoids
  • Polyphenols
  • Tea
  • theaflavin
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate