We’ve all heard about the importance of drinking at least 1.5 litres of water each day. But did you know that all those cups of tea you consume count towards the total?

Tea is a healthy drink, especially when no milk or sugar is added, and is hydrating - although it does contain low levels of caffeine, so make sure you alternate your cuppas with glasses of water.

Bill Gorman, executive chair of the UK Tea Council, explained: "The principle benefit is that tea, being a natural plant, is rich in antioxidants.

"Flavonoid antioxidants are very rich in tea and they have two principal functions. The main one is that they clean the blood [and] they stop rubbish building up in your system," he noted.

The same effect can be achieved through eating five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, which helps arterial functions and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Certain nutritional supplements, such as vitamin D, have also been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease.

"Tea is probably the largest single source of antioxidants in the British diet on a daily basis. The second benefit of the antioxidants - and there is a huge amount of research going on at the moment in this area - about [the link between] tea and [a reduction in] cancer," Mr Gorman added, citing research showing antioxidants can slow the growth of certain cancers in mice and rats.

Green tea in particular is a great health booster as it contains flavonoids, which research suggests are useful for lowering high blood sugar. The type of flavonoids found in green tea can also prevent damage to the major organs of the body and kickstart your metabolic rate, enabling meals to be digested faster, the Times of India reported.

In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1999 found that drinkers of green tea increased their total energy expenditure by 3.5 per cent, while the proportion of energy burnt from fat rose from 31 to 41 per cent.

So next time you make a cuppa, try a green tea for an instant health boost.

Posted by Matilda Jones