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Can a cup of tea keep COVID away?

A groundbreaking discovery by virologist Malak Esseili at the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety has revealed that certain teas possess the ability to deactivate SARS-CoV-2 in saliva, with efficacy reaching up to 99.9%. This finding, published in the journal Food and Environmental Virology, holds significant implications in the battle against COVID-19 as the virus primarily replicates in the oral cavity before progressing to the lungs.

Esseili and her team, including former graduate student Julianna Morris, investigated 24 commercially available teas, identifying five varieties—raspberry zinger, eucalyptus mint, mint medley, green tea, and black tea—that notably reduced the virus in saliva. Black tea exhibited the highest efficacy, reducing the virus by 99.9%.

The study explored the teas' effectiveness both as drinks and gargles, offering a promising avenue for supplementary intervention against COVID-19. While clinical trials are necessary to fully understand these findings, Esseili emphasizes that tea should complement, not replace, medical care.

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