Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into another buying frenzy.

Who doesn’t love tea? What with its bland taste and… okay, I for one don’t love tea.

But I may just change my ways thanks to a new study from Nara Medical University that found a cup of tea a day may help keep the corona away.

The reason is that certain teas contain chemicals known as catechin which have the ability to bind to the surface of the coronavirus. This coats those little spiny things that give the virus its name and makes it harder for the virus to bind to our own cells and thus harder to infect us.

▼ A video explanation of the standard coronavirus infection process

The researchers carried out lab tests by introducing ten different types of green and black teas commonly sold in plastic bottles across Japan, to test tubes containing COVID-19.

Black tea, which is a heavily oxidized version of green or oolong tea, was the most effective and reduced the number of coronaviruses with the ability to infect by 99 percent after one minute and 99.9 percent after ten minutes.

That’s great but test tubes and the human body are very different environments so it’s still unclear how well this would pan out in our bodies. That being said, green tea catechins have been shown to inhibit flu infections in animal and human studies, so the same logic may very well apply here.

Although it is a promising development, readers of the new online were largely not very enthusiastic.

“Great, now if I can just get all the coronaviruses in my body to come together for one minute so I can splash tea on them….”
“This isn’t new. Catechins were always known to stop viruses and fungi.”
“So all you have to do is fill your body with tea like a test tube.”
“That’s great, but it probably means I won’t be able to buy tea anywhere for a while.”
“Let the panic buying begin!”
“I’m looking forward to seeing how much tea sells for on online auction sites.”
“But people in the UK drinks lots of tea and it doesn’t seem to work there. I think you need to drink a lot of it for it to have any effect.”

As for the situation in the UK, I don’t think black tea is sold quite as widely as it is in Asia. That also brings up an important point that not all catechins are created equal. The chemicals can be found in various places but don’t always have the same effects on viruses or our bodies.

▼ Green tea, for example, doesn’t appear to be quite as potent as black tea according to the study.

And indeed, it is almost certain that tea will NOT turn you completely corona-proof, but drinking tea in moderation could be one of many small steps we can take to protect ourselves, along with wearing a mask and regular hand washing, that all add up to a solid defense.

Meanwhile, Nara Medical University probably agrees with many comments that this could potentially trigger a rush on bottled teas, so they are not releasing the exact brand of tea with the best effects until they get permission from the maker.

I just wish they told me about this before they got me fermenting persimmons two months ago.

Source: Sankei Shimbun, Hachima Kiko, US National Library of Medicine
Top image: Pakutaso
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