What separates ceylon tea from other teas is its location of origin, its manufacturing process, and its high levels of antioxidants. Ceylon tea benefits the heart, has anticancer effects, and also benefits the gut and kidney while helping with weight loss. Keep reading to learn more about its health benefits and possible side effects.
What Is Ceylon Tea?
Ceylon tea refers to the geographical region, Sri Lanka (previously known as Ceylon), in which the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is grown. Green tea, black tea, and white tea (known as Silver Tips) are grown in 11 tea regions in Sri Lanka [R].
The amount of antioxidants in the tea depends on the process before tea drying, the geographical location, soil, and climate the tea is grown in. The type of plant, growth, season, and degree of maturity also influences its antioxidant components. Because of that, some people claim that ceylon tea is the best tea in the world [R].
Ceylon black tea leaves are processed (fermented), and it is the most famous tea type. The black tea has more caffeine than other types. Ceylon green tea is made from unfermented tea leaves and has high antioxidant content [R, R].
White ceylon tea leaves are dried in the sun and are the least processed. Because of this, it has the most antioxidants out of the 3 types. Ceylon white tea contains high levels of GABA, which influences many processes in humans [R].
Polyphenols are the main active compound in the tea; they act as antioxidants. The major polyphenols in tea are [R]:
- Epigallocatechin- gallate (EGCG) – the most abundant polyphenol, which helps reduce inflammation
- Gallic acid
- Theogallin, which helps with brain function
- Cinnamic acid, which is anti-diabetic
- Chlorogenic acid
- Alkaloids (caffeine and theobromine)
- Amino acids (L-Theanine)
- Minerals (aluminum, magnesium, fluoride)
Health Benefits of Ceylon Tea
1) Ceylon Tea Is a Powerful Antioxidant
Oxidative stress is considered to be harmful because reactive oxygen species can damage biological molecules such as fat, proteins, and DNA. Ceylon tea’s components are powerful antioxidants that can help protect against oxidative stress [R].
2) Ceylon Tea Protects the Heart
The flavonoids from Ceylon tea can help prevent heart disease [R].
Two meta-analyses (of 30 RCTs in total) showed that black and green tea consumption lowered blood levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol, especially in people with higher heart disease risk. However, it did not have a significant effect on total and good (HDL) cholesterol [R, R].
In a study (RCT) of 263 subjects, consuming 9 g (around 3 cups) of black tea for 12 weeks, heart disease risk markers were decreased (blood uric acid and C-reactive protein levels). Black tea can benefit humans who have a high risk of heart disease [R].
Consumption of green or black tea also reduced blood pressure in individuals in a meta-analysis (10 trials and 834 participants) [R].
Green tea catechins also reduced hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) in animal models and clinical studies [R].
Tea flavonoids also had protective effects against heart disease in a study of 3,454 subjects [R].
3) Ceylon Tea Fights Cancer
A review of 9 cohort studies (of 465,000 people) showed that green tea consumption reduced liver cancer risk. Green tea had a preventive effect on the female Asian population, but not on males [R].
Additionally, daily supplementation with 600 mg of green tea catechins (EGCG) for 1 year significantly reduced prostate cancer progression [R].
Green tea also had protective effects on esophageal cancer in a meta-analysis of 24 studies with 7,376 subjects [R].
In mice, drinking green or black tea inhibited:
- Skin tumors [R, R]
- Bladder cancer [R]
- Breast tumors (both hormone-dependent and independent) [R]
- Intestinal and colon cancers [R]
Theaflavin-gallate, a pigment of tea, has an inhibitory effect on ovarian cancer cells. It induces cell death (apoptosis) and stops the cell growth cycle[R].
4) Ceylon Tea Benefits Brain Function
Flavonoids from ceylon tea can also help protect the brain and improve its function [R].
In 2 studies (DB-RCT), drinking black tea improved the subjects’ attention and alertness [R].
A review also showed that green tea reduced anxiety, boosted cognitive function, and helped with memory and attention. The effect of green tea cannot be attributed to a single compound, but caffeine and L-theanine are the top 2 contributors [R].
5) Ceylon Tea Is Anti-Diabetic
In a 5-year study of 17,413 middle-aged Japanese subjects, consumption of green tea reduced the risk for type 2 diabetes [R].
Another 11-year cohort study of 5,823 British participants reported a decrease in diabetes incidence in people who drank both tea and coffee [R].
However, there were no relationships between drinking tea and diabetes risk in a cohort study of 46,906 African-American women [R].
6) Ceylon Tea Benefits Weight LossGreen tea extract ingestion before moderate to intense exercise increased fat breakdown in a study of 23 men [R].
Green tea polyphenols activate AMP-activated protein kinase, which helped to reduce the fat formation and stimulate fat breakdown in chickens [R].
Additionally, green tea extract induced genes to change white fat tissue into a less harmful form and limited weight-gain in high energy diet-fed rats[R].
There are only a few weight loss studies that included black tea. Black tea theaflavins inhibited pancreatic lipase, which helps weight loss [R].
Additionally, tea catechins had protective activity against bacteria (Vibrio cholerae 01) in mice and rabbits [R].
8) Ceylon Tea Protects Skin
UV radiation plays an important role in aging and skin cancer. Green tea has anti-wrinkle, antioxidant, and immunosuppressive actions. Tea’s polyphenols protect against UV-irradiation, delaying skin aging [R, R].
Tea also has a high potential for wound healing activity. Topical application of tea extract helped heal wounds faster in mice. The wounds had less scarring, and the skin contained less inflammatory cells and more collagen [R, R, R].
9) Ceylon Tea Improves Bone Health
In a survey of 1,937 adults, drinking tea for more than 10 years had a beneficial effect on bone strength and bone mineral density [R].
10) Ceylon Tea May Help Gut Function
Thearubigin, a black tea polyphenol, accelerates gut flow, which helps with gut function [R].
Theasaponin E1 from ceylon tea seeds have protective effects on stomach wounds in rats [R].
11) Ceylon Tea May Protect the Kidneys
Green tea polyphenols have a protective role in rats fed a high-fat diet. The polyphenols increased production of mitochondrial sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) (which improves ketogenesis). This contributes to the antioxidative protection in the kidneys [R].
Green tea also helps get rid of toxins, thus exerting a protective effect on the kidneys [R].
However, in a cohort study of 12,428 subjects, there was not a clear relationship between kidney function and tea consumption [R].
Limitations and Caveats
Most of the studies are based on the tea plant Camellia sinensis, but they do not mention the origin of the plant. Thus, many of the following health benefits are from tea in general, and not from a specific location. Only in the sections where Ceylon tea is specifically mentioned did the studies use tea from Sri Lanka.
Additionally, many of the studies are animal studies. More human trials are needed before extensive use of ceylon tea for its health benefits.
Drinking moderate amounts of black tea is safe for most adults, but drinking more than 5 cups per day is unsafe. This is because of the high amounts of caffeine, which can cause mild to severe side effects. Caffeine can cause seizures, delirium, and heart rate problems [R].
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding drinking a small amount is safe, but drinking more than 2 cups a day may cause health problems. It is linked to an increase in miscarriages, sudden infant death syndrome, and lower birth weight [R, R, R].
Green tea catechins decreased thyroid hormone levels in rats. High amounts of tea consumption might cause thyroid dysfunction [R].
Ceylon tea is rich in fluoride. Although fluoride is good for your teeth in small quantities, high amounts can cause harm. Dental fluorosis is a concern [R].
Flavonoids from tea go through the same pathways as drugs. They can potentially interfere with absorption, tissue distribution, metabolism, and excretion of drugs. They inhibit both cytochrome P450 and drug transporters [R].
Flavonoids are involved in the activity and production of CYP1A2, which is important for the metabolism of important drugs such as caffeine, theophylline, warfarin, and propranolol [R].
In a study (DP-PCT) of 237 subjects, caffeine and theophylline from tea interfered with benzodiazepine absorption in men[R].
Caffeine interactions with drugs through P450 cytochrome might change the metabolism of [R]:
- Antiarrhythmics (mexiletine)
- Antipsychotics (clozapine)
- Bronchodilators (furafylline, theophylline)
The dosage of tea may depend on what effects you desire:
- For decreasing heart disease risk markers: 9 g of black tea daily [R]
- For increasing fat breakdown and insulin sensitivity during exercise: 3 capsules of green tea extract (9 g polyphenols and 3 g EGCG) [R]
- To reduce prostate cancer: 600 mg of EGCG [R]
- For diabetes mellitus type 2: Green tea and coffee combined (2 or more cups per day) [R]
- To reduce the risk of developing lung cancer: 2 cups of green tea daily [R]
- To reduce the risk of Parkinson disease: More than 2 cups per day [R]