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Does Tea Kill Bacteria?

Tea has many documented health benefits. Its delicious taste and medicinal properties have made it a popular drink worldwide for hundreds of years. However, one of the biggest medicinal advantages it provides is as a moderator for bacteria in the body. 

Green tea kills the bacteria that cause bad breath. Tea naturally contains active chemical compounds that have antimicrobial properties. However, drinking green tea can also help benefit good bacteria in the body by protecting your gut flora. 

Drinking tea can help you manage the levels of both good and bad bacteria in your body. Keep reading to learn more about tea’s effects on bacteria in the body and how you can drink it to benefit yours. 

Tea and Bad Bacteria vs. Beneficial Bacteria

In most cases, tea acts as an antibacterial and antimicrobial solution. Tea destroys a wide variety of bacteria and living organisms that it comes into contact with when you drink it or swish it around in your mouth. 

Tea has two major effects on bacteria in the body: 

  • Tea and bad bacteria: The bad bacteria that cause health problems like bad breath and skin infections can be destroyed by the chemical components in tea. This makes tea appropriate as a digestive and as an active ingredient in skincare products.
  • Tea and good bacteria: Tea doesn’t just destroy bacteria. Since it doesn’t affect all bacteria equally, tea can beat back levels of bad bacteria in your body. This allows beneficial bacteria, such as gut flora, to reassert themselves. 

Tea may hurt bad bacteria, but it works just as hard to encourage the growth of good bacteria. While you might consider any bacteria in your body to be a negative thing, this isn’t necessarily the case. Many bacteria in the body are responsible for the proper digestion of food and other important body functions. 

What Tea is Good for Bacteria?

All types of tea that include the tea plant Camellia sinensis are considered good for beneficial bacteria growth. While you might get other health benefits from drinking other tisanes and herbal teas, they won’t have the same advantages for your gut bacteria as drinking the real thing. 

Here are the three teas that are most closely associated with positive levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut: 

  • Black tea: Black tea is made of tea leaves that have been cured through a process called tea oxidation.  Black tea is associated with a wide variety of health benefits, not just beneficial bacteria.
  • Green tea: Green tea is made of leaves from the tea plant that are not cured and processed, giving them a more grassy and astringent flavor. Green tea contains many good ingredients for your body, such as antioxidant polyphenols and L-theanine.
  • Oolong tea: Oolong tea is a partially oxidized tea somewhere between black tea and green tea. Oolong tea has many of the same health benefits of both black and green tea.

No matter which type of tea you choose, as long as it has true tea leaves in it, you’ll be removing bad bacteria from your body and encouraging the growth of good bacteria.

does green tea kill bacteria

Is Tea a Disinfectant?

Due to its antibacterial properties, tea makes an effective disinfectant. Tea can be used inside your body and out to take care of bacteria harmful to human beings. These are a few ways that tea can be used for sterilizing purposes: 

  • Flu prevention: A solution of green tea has been shown to prevent the growth of the influenza virus on the skin. This makes green tea as useful as an antiviral compound as it is an antibacterial one.
  • Hand disinfectant: Since green tea is antimicrobial, it is a good active ingredient in hand-washing solutions. It’s an especially good option for people looking for natural or all-organic ingredients in their cosmetics.
  • Gargling: Gargling with tea as an internal disinfectant can prevent the build-up of bacteria in the mouth. This is great news for your breath, but it’s also good news for the rest of your body since dental inflammation and gum disease are associated with a heightened risk of many systemic diseases such as cardiovascular problems. 

Whether you want to make some homemade cleaning products with active antibacterial ingredients or you just want to do some preemptive swishing each day to stay on top of your dental health, green tea acts as an effective disinfectant in either case. 

Does Black Tea Kill Oral Bacteria? 

Black tea doesn’t have the strength of the antibacterial effect in green tea due to lower levels of polyphenols. However, black tea is still an effective form of tea for killing oral bacteria. It contains the same chemicals responsible for green tea being such a strong germ fighter, just in less amounts. The process of oxidation destroys some of these chemicals.

The antibacterial properties of tea make it a great rinse for washing out your mouth after an oral surgery or if you have other injuries inside the mouth. Regular rinsing with a tea solution can help prevent infection from setting in. 

Other Antibacterial and Cleaning Uses for Tea

Tea provides many benefits when you drink it, but there are other ways you can take advantage of tea’s antibacterial properties around the house. Here are just a few easy ways you can use it

  • Clean your microwave: Steep green tea in a warm water solution before using it to wipe down the inside of your microwave. This will remove the build-up of any nasty bacteria while leaving your microwave with a fresh fragrance too.
  • Toilet cleaning: Place tea bags in the toilet bowl and let them steep for an hour or more before removing the tea bags, scrubbing the toilet, and flushing the tea down. This will help keep your toilet clean and smelling good.
  • Shoe deodorant: Tea bags can be placed inside old smelly shoes to help kill the bacteria inside them and reduce any bad odors. 

Matcha tea is a useful green tea type for making your own cleaning products. Since the green tea is already in a powdered form, this makes it very easy to add to things such as liquid cleaning solutions and homemade soaps. 

Tea is Good for Bacterial Prevention

Tea isn’t just a tasty drink for cozy mornings. This beverage is known as one of the healthiest on the planet for good reason. Tea can be used in all kinds of antibacterial applications. Drinking black, green, or oolong tea as part of a daily dedication to self-care and good health can be a relaxing way to keep your body free of harmful bacteria. 

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