A study examining tea-drinking habits of more than 12,000 Type 2 diabetes sufferers in across Europe found that drinking four cups tea a day had a 20 per cent lower risk of developing the illness.
The study found that benefits seemed to be most obvious among heavy tea drinkers -- drinking a mere one to three cups a day doesn't lower the risk, the researchers said.
However, drinking excessive tea prepared with milk and sugar could be quite harmful to health, according to experts.
"Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, but dietary factors may also play a role. One dietary factor of interest is tea consumption," said study author Christian Herder of the Leibniz Center for Diabetes Research at Heinrich Heine University in Germany.
"Tea consumption may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by influencing glucose digestion, glucose uptake, and by protecting beta-cells from free-radical damage. This beneficial effect may be due to the polyphenols present in tea," Herder was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
According to Herder, drinking at least four cups of tea per day was linked to a 20 per cent lower risk, while drinking one to three cups per day did not lower the risk of diabetes compared with non-tea drinkers.
But it was unclear if tea is associated inversely over the entire range of intake, he said.
"Therefore, we investigated the association between tea consumption and incidence of type 2 diabetes in a European population," he said.
"It was done in 26 centres in eight European countries, and consisted of 12,403 incident type 2 diabetes cases plus thousands of others without the disease. Tea drinking ranged from an average of none a day in Spain to four a day in UK."
Herder added: "Increasing our understanding of modifiable lifestyle factors associated with the development of type 2 diabetes is important, as the prevalence of diabetes is increasing rapidly.
"In line with this, no association was observed when tea consumption was studied as continuous variable. This may indicate that the protective effect of tea is restricted to people with a high tea consumption."