The United Planters’ Association of Southern India (Upasi) has announced that its Tea Research Institute is exploring the possibility of using tea as a defence against the Coronavirus.

“The Upasi Tea Research Institute is exploring the possibility of investigating the antiviral property of Theaflavins-3, a compound abundantly found in black tea and catechins from green tea to ward off Coronavirus in collaboration with the Tea Board of India through ICMR,” Chairman of Upasi Tea Committee C Shreedharan said.

This follows a recent study by a research group from Indonesia and Thailand that explored the secondary metabolites secreted by plants in tropical regions that can be developed as medicines. This group investigated a number of compounds for their potential to inhibit Covid-19.

“The conclusion of this study was that along with several compounds, catechin, and epicatechin-gallate sourced from tea ( Camellia sinensis) may act as potential inhibitors of Covid-19. However, further clinical studies are required to prove the antiviral properties of tea against Covid-19,” Shreedharan said.

He also said that researchers from Taiwan and China have found in a laboratory study that SARS Cov-2 could be inhibited by compounds that are abundant in teas. Numerous black tea polyphenols, especially those of Theaflavins-1, Theaflavins-2 and Theaflavins-3 were found to inhibit the SARS CoV-2 replication. In black tea, Theaflavins-3 was the most abundant (1.05 per cent).

“These results suggest that Theaflavins might be a good starting point for the design of more active inhibitors for SARS CoV-2 and these compounds are abundant in the extract of black tea produced from the seedling populations belonging to Camellia L SP as well as the cultivars developed by the Upasi Tea Research Institute,” Shreedharan noted.

He also listed the various other health benefits of drinking tea as proved in the studies across the globe.