Tea antioxidants and free radicals

← Return to all blogs

Our guide to the the good stuff in green tea.


It also contains vitamins C, K, B12, B6 and E, minerals such as potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, significant amounts of fluoride and the amino acid L-theanine which has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system. Alkaloids are also present such as caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline which provide the stimulant effects.

The good stuff in green tea

The healthy properties of green tea are mostly attributed to the polyphenols which have powerful antioxidant properties. Polyphenols in tea are classified as catechins and green tea has six primary catechin compounds: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin gallate - known as EGCG. EGCG is the most active polyphenol in green tea and it may provide health benefits by protecting healthy cells from the oxidative damage from free radicals.


Antioxidants and free radicals

Tea is a rich source of the natural plant-derived antioxidant compounds called polyphenols which include flavonoids and catechins.

Tea has one of the highest flavonoid contents of all plants making up 15% of the weight of the dry leaf. Flavonoids are thought to help combat harmful free radicals. Free radicals are the molecules which can attack healthy cells in the body and lead to infections, tumours and degenerative diseases.

Excessive free radicals can damage DNA, cell membranes and other cell components and when a cell's DNA changes, the cell can mutate, grow and reproduce quickly and abnormally - creating the conditions for disease.

Free radicals are generally kept under control by antioxidants that the body produces naturally, but too many free radical attacks can overwhelm the body's natural defense system. External influences such as long term smoking and excessive alcohol consumption for instance, can increase harmful free radical attacks. It is after repeated attacks that damage can lead to a number of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

What do antioxidants do?

Antioxidants can mop up free radicals. EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is the main active component in green tea leaves and has the most potent antioxidant activity of the catechins.

The science

ECGC (epigallocatechin gallate) can inhibit fast-binding and reversible fatty acid synthesis, it increases tyrosine phosphorylation of the insulin receptor and activation of ornithine decarboxylase. ECGC can also protect the DNA in the human cells from ultraviolet and visible radiation-induced damage. ECGC may also be effective in promoting fat oxidation.

Normal cell function in the body produces damaged molecules — called free radicals. These free radicals are highly unstable and steal molecules of fat, protein, or DNA from other cells. It can create a chain reaction, leading to entire cells becoming damaged or dying. This process is called peroxidation. Antioxidants donate components to stabilize free radicals and help prevent further cell damage. Disease can occur when there are not enough antioxidants to hold peroxidation in check and the free radicals begin damaging healthy cells.

Tea training

Recent journals

COVID-19 Safety Statement

Boost Your Tea Revenue

How to Make Your Tea Service More Sustainable

Hey Restaurants: Give Tea a Chance

How To Create An Award Winning Tea Service

Next Generation Water Boilers

The Three T's

Top Teas for Tea Cocktails

Recipe: Wild Vietnamese Old Fashioned

Canton Wild Vietnamese Cinnamon In Pictures

Why You Should Offer Retail Tea in Your Cafe

New Canton Retail Cubes

Canton's Plastic-Free Pyramid Teabags

Recipe: 'Flamingo' Tea Cocktail

Recipe: Canton Matcha Affogato

Recipe: Canton Mediterranean Tea and Tonic

Canton Supplier: The Obubu Tea Garden

Canton Matcha Cooler

Super Simple Iced Tea

Canton Tea and the invention of English Breakfast

Golden Week: A goldmine for afternoon tea sales

The Canton Veganuary guide to dairy-free tea

Mulled Canton Berry and Hibiscus Recipe

The Wolseley Tea Caddies

Tea antioxidants and free radicals

Canton signature tea cocktail

Is green tea good for you?

Canton is hiring

Canton Chocolate Noir and the vanilla dilemma

The chemical profiles of different tea styles

Plastic free tea

The Wolseley launches Canton sparkling tea

Where to enjoy Afternoon Tea Week

Tea: the magical ingredient - in beer

Canton Tea at The Wolseley

A guide to Chinese green tea

More than just a new look

5 hotels we love to visit

Canton Tea at World of Coffee Amsterdam

The perfect English Breakfast tea blend

Matcha Peachu cocktail recipe

Genmaicha and Japanese tea history

Teas of the eighteenth century English tea trade

How to make the perfect cup of English Breakfast

Iced Matcha Latte Recipe

Tea and caffeine - myth and truth

A guide to Chinese black tea

Psychopomp x Canton

Wild teas and wild herbs from remote regions

Nepali tea. History and the Jun Chiyabari garden

The best gluten free bakery in London?

Where to buy Canton tea to enjoy at home

The most sought-after Japanese green tea?

The season, flush and flavour of Darjeeling

Beyond fairtrade in Taiwan

Ethical and responsible sourcing of tea

Open Weave Tea House

From poppies to roses

The tea that began it all: Pouchong

Is Canton Tea organic?

How to brew Chinese tea