May 13, 2018

Can Drinking Tea Reduce Flu Infections?

The Benefits of Black Tea, Green Tea, White Tea and Oolong Tea Flavonoids and the Role of Gut Microbes.  

We have always been great believers in the power of tea, especially considering how rich tea is in flavonoids.

What are flavonoids?  

Flavonoids are a large group of plant compounds thought to provide health benefits by signalling cells in our bodies to do certain things and via their antioxidant effects. Nutritionists have been exploring the health benefits of flavonoid-rich foods like blueberries, wine and tea, for years but there are still many questions.

At the same time there has been growing evidence suggesting that our gut microbes play an important role in protecting us against severe influenza infections.

Hoping to better understand how the microbes in our gut influence our immune systems’ response to flu infections, researchers at the University of Washington at St. Louis wondered if flavonoids might be involved.

white tea mug on table with adjacent dark frame glasses and a square box of white tissue

Instead of reaching for the vitamin C and a box of tissues you may find the best “remedy” is in your tea tin!

So they went looking to see if there were any gut microbes in humans that were able to breakdown flavonoids. Eureka! They found what they were looking for in Clostridium orbiscindens. They then used this microbe to break down flavonoids into smaller metabolites and used them to boost the immune response in mice later infected with the influenza virus.

The results were promising. Flu-related lung damage was significantly reduced in the mice, which would be similar to complications like pneumonia in humans. The influenza virus was still present but with the correct gut microbes and flavonoids, the infection was not as severe.  

Although more work needs to be done to fully understand if this interaction works the same way in humans…

We suggest that it may not be a bad idea to drink lots of tea and eat foods rich in flavonoids before the next flu season!

So how many flavonoids do different types of tea have?

Green, Black and White teas are the best choices for maximizing flavonoids (see table below). Try Samurai Sencha, Strawberry Fields, Mango Tango or Vanilla Pomegranate Parfait as your pre-flu season defence! 


USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods, Release 3.1 (May 2014)
Flavonoid Content (mg) in Brewed Tea Infusion (100 ml)*


Black Tea, brewed prepared with tap water

Black Tea, brewed made with tap water. Decaf

Green Tea, brewed

Green Tea, brewed


White Tea, Brewed

Oolong Tea, brewed

Coffee, brewed from grounds

Red Table Wine, Cabernet Savignon












  1. Steed AL, Christophi GP, Kaiko GE, Sun L, Goodwin VM, Jain U, Esaulova E, Artyomov MN, Morales DJ, Holtzman MJ, Boon ACM, Lenschow DJ, Stappenbeck TS. The microbial metabolite desaminotyrosin protects from influenza through type 1 interferon. Science. Aug. 4, 2017.
  2. USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods, Release 3.1 (May 2014) USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods.  

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