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COVID-19: Is Ceylon Tea A Potential Immunity Booster?

Recently, the Ministry of AYUSH has released certain guidelines on how to improve immunity and strengthen our body in the wake of global pandemic. The guidelines revealed that a mixture of turmeric and milk is very effective in boosting immunity. As far as traditional medicines are concerned, there are several herbs, spices, teas and decoctions which are considered beneficial for our body's immune system. But recently, a Ceylon tea is making news around the world for its amazing immune-boosting power.

In a meeting between Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Chinese Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan on 6 February, as a gesture of goodwill, President Rajapaksa gifted a consignment of Ceylon black tea to China. A Twitter post by the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry claiming the immune-boosting capability of Ceylon tea against coronavirus has also caught the eyes of netizens and tea companies worldwide. So, what exactly is Ceylon tea and is it effective against COVID-19?

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What Is Ceylon Tea?

Ceylon tea is a rich flavoured tea mainly grown in the highlands of Sri Lanka. Like other teas, it also comes from a plant named Camellia sinensis. Ceylon tea comes in varieties of colour like black, green, white and oolong depending on their processing and production methods. The tea's flavour also depends on the area in which they are grown.

The foremost reason why Ceylon tea is considered beneficial is due to its impressive nutritional profile. It is high in compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids which are potent antioxidants. [1] Also, the presence of other flavonoids such as myricetin and quercetin prevents oxidative stress, inflammation, infections and reduces the risk of multiple diseases like diabetes.

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Ceylon Tea And COVID-19

According to a report published on the Sri Lanka Embassy website on 4 April, Ceylon tea may become an effective brew choice during COVID-19 pandemic due to its antioxidant activity and no side effects. The report also says that Srilankans are habituated to drinking 3-4 cups of Ceylon tea every day.

Theaflavins in Ceylon tea is very effective against respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis, asthma and lung infections. It facilitates the clearing of the air passage in the lungs and makes it easy to breathe. As we know that COVID-19 has a similar symptom, it is considered beneficial against COVID-19. [2] Regularly drinking Ceylon tea helps flush out viruses from the throat and improve immunity. Further, inhaling the fumes of Ceylon tea clear the viruses trapped in the nasal chamber. [3]

Seeing the effectiveness of Ceylon tea, the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka (TRI) has emphasised on an old saying ‘prevention is better than cure'. They said that at times such as this, good health of the immune system is important and Ceylon tea makes for a potential immune booster.

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Ceylon Tea And SARS-CoV

COVID-19 is said to be similar to SARS-CoV that occurred in the year 2003. According to a study, black tea contains two natural polyphenols tannic acid and theaflavins which are effective against SARS or upper respiratory tract infection. This is due to the way in which the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant is processed to produce black tea. They go through a high degree of fermentation which produces theaflavins. On the other hand, oolong and green tea do not inhibit this compound due to their partial fermentation process. [4]

Other benefits of Ceylon tea are linked to low cholesterol levels, cancer prevention and weight loss. It is also known for anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-viral and anti-tumour properties.

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Ceylon Tea For Immune System

Tea is considered a daily beverage for several years. Black tea from Camellia sinensis has an immunomodulatory effect that helps in the increase of peripheral blood cells. These cells consist of white blood cells or lymphocytes. Black tea also contains chronic anti-inflammatory property that suppresses inflammation caused due to infections or diseases like stroke or autoimmune disorders. [5]

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Is It effective For COVID-19?

From the aforementioned points, it is clear that Ceylon tea inhibits potential to boost our immune system, fight against infections and help prevent various respiratory diseases like SARS. However, its efficacy in preventing COVID-19 needs more evidence.

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How To Prepare Ceylon Tea

Ingredients:

  • Ceylon tea leaves
  • Water
  • Milk (optional)
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Teapot

Method: Place 1 tsp of Ceylon leaves in the teapot. Add 236 ml or 8 oz of hot water boiled at around 90-95 degree-Celcius (below the boiling point). Let the tea steep for three minutes and then pour in the cups. You can also prepare Ceylon tea by adding milk. Add Ceylon leaves in a cup and pour hot water to about half of the cup. Let it steep for a few minutes. Then add milk and sugar (optional).

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