Love your afternoon tea served in your favourite porcelain cup? Your habitual tea drinking may modulate your brain efficiency according to new researchers.

According to a new study published in the online journal Agingthere has been no such research in the past to see how tea affects the system-level brain networks. This research was led by Assistant professor Feng Lei from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of medicine and was done in collaboration with the University of Essex and the University of Cambridge. 

The researchers recruited a group of healthy older participants and divided them into two groups according to their tea drinking frequency. Their functional and structural brain networks were then investigated to reveal the role of tea drinking on brain organisation. Most significant to this study was the suppression of hemispheric asymmetry in the structural connectivity network of the brain as a result of frequent tea-drinking – this included green tea, oolong tea or black tea.

This means that the brain regions that carry out cognitive functions interconnected in a more effective way.

"Take the analogy of road traffic as an example – consider brain regions as destinations, while the connections between brain regions are roads. When a road system is better organised, the movement of vehicles and passengers is more efficient and uses less resources. Similarly, when the connections between brain regions are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently," explained Assistant Professor Feng in a press release.

He added, "We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers. Our current results relating to brain network indirectly support our previous findings by showing that the positive effects of regular tea drinking are the result of improved brain organisation brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections."

What this study could mean in future

Besides from the fact that tea drinkers should rejoice and go brew another pot, research on the cognitive performance and brain organisation can help expert better understand the function of the brain, and come up with ways to preserve cognition during the ageing process.

Other benefits of tea

Still not convinced? Here are some other reasons to love your tea.

Tea contains powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, which can even be more powerful than vitamins C and E. This means that tea can help fight free radicals and inflammation in the body.Despite the caffeine in tea, it still has hydrating properties – drink tea without milk and sugar for a kilojoule-free drink during the day.The antioxidants in tea may also lower your risk of chronic diseases caused by high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Black tea may boost your concentration because of an amino acid called L-theanine which can improve your ability to focus and be alert.