Tea’s Surprising Influence on Health and Hygiene

Tea's Surprising Influence on Health and Hygiene
Tea's Surprising Influence on Health and Hygiene. Credit | Getty images

United States – Steeped in porcelain cups over Mozart and wearing periwigues of the 1700s, tea arrived in England and started its unnoticeable mission of saving thousands of lives, if new research is to be believed.

Tea’s Influence on Drinking Habits

It wasn’t the leaves that kept tea drinkers out of danger. This was used to serve the boiled water tea, as indicated in this photo, as reported by HealthDay.

Unboiled water had long left England’s populace susceptibly vulnerable to bacterial diseases, including dysentery, commonly known during this period as the “bloody flux.”

However, tea was instrumental in bringing about the change, according to the new study.

Research Findings and Methodology

Visual Representation. Credit | Shutterstock

Beverage got into England around the 1780s when the Industrial Revolution had started, noted Colorado University Boulder student Francisca Antman.

“Population density is rising, cities are really growing, people are being packed tighter and tighter,” she said. “That should actually be a period where we see a lot of increasing mortality. But we end up seeing this surprising decline in mortality that can be explained by the introduction of tea and, more specifically, the boiling of water.”

CU Boulder economics professor Scott Antman pointed out that during the century being studied, people did not even know that it was necessary to boil water.

But, “tea became available to almost every family in England in the end of 1780s,” she mentioned so this was a fad soon adopted.

But how significant was this great transition from cool to hot beverages to our health?

To determine this, Antman observed 1780s mortality rates, including rates before tea arrived in the late 18th century, with 400 different English parishes. She also examined the type of water people in each parish have access to – whether it is still running or it is still, for instance.

“In areas where you expect water quality should have been inherently worse, you see a bigger decline in mortality when tea comes in,” Antman said in a university news release.

“It’s not like the water itself is pure or up to the standards of drinking water that we have today,” she added. “But what you see is those areas that should have benefited more do benefit more as they begin to boil water for tea consumption.”

According to Antman, the current findings published in the journal The Review of Economics and Statistics shouldn’t be written off as historical anecdotes, as reported by HealthDay.

Implications for Global Health

“We know water is important, not just for health but also for people’s economic lives and social lives,” she said. “We know there are still many developing nations where access to clean water, especially for women and girls, is still a struggle.”

In the same way, people replaced tea with sparkling clean water as a side effect of a healthy change of habit in search of something healthy.

“It is a great example of how a population adopted a healthy behavior without someone trying to change culture or customs from the outside, but because they wanted to adopt the practice from within,” Antman said. “It’s something we can look at and possibly try to emulate when considering future interventions aimed at improving health more generally, including with respect to water.”