A new study has shown that drinking tea reduces the risk of dying from causes related to the heart by one quarter. The study, which involved 131,401 people aged 18 to 95, showed the benefits of tea are largely due to the antioxidant ingredients.

Of course, it’s as if the Irish already knew!

The Irish broke the Guinness World Record for the amount of tea drunk per capita between 1998 and 2000 with the Irish population downing 1,184 cups of tea per person per year. Earlier this year Ireland ranked number two, after Turkey, for the most tea drunk so we’re way ahead when it comes to our intake of antioxidants.

The study presented to the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) by Professor Nicolas Danchin, from France, shows that benefits of tea are largely due to the flavonoid content, antioxidant ingredients that are thought to be good for the heart.

Danchin said, “If you have to choose between tea or coffee it’s probably better to drink tea.”

Read more: The importance of tea to the Irish, and a recipe for tea brack

The study involved 131,401 people aged 18 to 95 at low risk of cardiovascular diseases attending the Paris IPC Preventive Medicine Centre between January 2001 and December 2008.

Coffee or tea consumption was assessed by a self-administered questionnaire as one of three classes: none, 1 to 4, or more than 4 cups per day.

The researchers found that coffee drinkers had a higher CV risk profile than non-drinkers, particularly for smoking. The percentage of current smokers was 17% for non-drinkers compared with 31% in those who drank 1 to 4 cups per day and 57% in those who drank more than 4 cups per day.

Non-coffee drinkers were more physically active, with 45% having a good level of physical activity compared to 41% of the heavy coffee drinkers.

Tea drinkers had the reverse profile of coffee drinkers, with consumers having a better CV risk profile than non-consumers. One-third (34%) of the non-drinkers of tea were current smokers compared to 24% of those who drank 1-4 cups per day and 29% of those who drank more than 4 cups. Physical activity increased with the number of cups of tea per day from 43% in the moderate tea drinkers to 46% in the heavy drinkers.

Tea had a more marked effect on blood pressure than coffee, with a 4-5 mmHg decrease in SBP and 3 mmHg decrease in DBP in the heavy tea drinkers, compared to non-drinkers, when adjusted for age.

Professor Danchin said, “Overall we tend to have a higher risk profile for coffee drinkers and a lower risk profile for tea drinkers.”

In closing…what we’re really saying is put the kettle on!

Here are some words of wisdom from a Master Blender at Barry's Tea in Ireland. PAY ATTENTION!:

Irish are ahead of the game on the antioxidant front with the second highest consumption of tea in the world.Getty Images/iStockphoto