Scientific research proves tea helps focus attention

Dubai, UAE, 22 May 2012 – Today saw an important event for the regions’ tea aficionados, as the Lipton Institute of Tea held its first Tea Symposium in the Middle East, in Dubai.

"People in the Middle East are very heavy drinkers of tea," states Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman, Unilever North Africa and Middle East. "It's comparable to the UK and Ireland that have the highest per capita consumption in the world, roughly 3 kilos of tea per person per year". The Lipton tea factory in Jebel Ali is Unilever’s second largest tea manufacturing plant in the world, producing an astonishing 1 million tea bags per hour. This excludes the other variants of tea including loose tea that the factory produces.

The Lipton Institute of Tea is Unilever’s dedicated tea research facility, based in the UK, and provides Lipton with access to world-class tea experts. Scientific studies are conducted exploring the mental and physical benefits of tea, with the mission of increasing awareness and understanding, and ultimately creating teas for consumers. 

As well as research conducted directly by the Institute, it also funds and coordinates a large number of research projects at academic and research institutions around the world, making it the leading global authority on the benefits of tea and its ingredients, as well as tea preservation systems and tea leaf production.

Key Findings

Hosted by Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman of Unilever, North Africa and Middle East, and Dr Jane Rycroft, from the Lipton Institute of Tea, Lipton presented a range of research from leading academics in the field, focusing on the positive effects of black tea on our ability to focus attention and feel alert. Early studies showed that having a few cups of tea during the day increased subjective alertness and helped sustain arousal throughout the day.

Two internal studies were conducted using multisensory tests, such as the attention switching test and the multisensory attention test, as well as a qualitative mood questionnaire. Lipton concluded that together the findings prove categorically that black tea helps to improve attention, revealing:

After drinking 2-3 cups of black tea, participants improved their performance across all attention tasks

After drinking 2-3 cups of black tea, participants reported feeling an increased sense of alertness Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman, Unilever North Africa and Middle East, adds: “We are committed to advancing scientific knowledge of tea through our ongoing research and development programmes, and it is essential that we actively share this knowledge to increase understanding of the benefits of tea within our region. 

Our facilities and technology are world-class, and the symposium provided a fantastic forum to share the findings these facilitate.” Dr Jane Rycroft, from the Lipton Institute of Tea adds: “As pioneers in the area of the effects of tea and tea ingredients on attention, we strongly believe that key ingredients found in tea, which includes Theanine, Caffeine and flavanoids combined in a cup of tea, help improve the ability to focus attention.

The institute’s mission is to promote this message, along with the additional benefits of black tea, which can help improve mental and physical wellbeing.”Attention is an essential aspect of cognitive functioning in that it allows us to process a combination of continuous and complex information. Hence, the attention benefits of tea are very relevant to everyday life. 

Additional benefits also associated with regular tea drinking include a lower risk of cardiovascular disease . Furthermore, several studies have shown that theanine, an ingredient unique to tea, affects alpha wave activity in the brain, which is associated with relaxation. 

Every year, consumers in over 120 countries drink 117 billion cups of Unilever tea, and as the world’s biggest tea company, Lipton buys 12 per cent of the global black tea crop. In addition to the institute, Lipton has research centres and regional representatives strategically located in both major tea-growing regions – India & Kenya, and in key markets; USA, Japan and China.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with operations in over 100 countries and sales in 190. Consumers buy 170 billion Unilever packs around the world every year, and our products are used over two billion times a day. We have more than 171,000 employees, and generated annual sales of €46.5 billion in 2011.

Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known and most loved brands including thirteen €1 billion brands, and global leadership in most categories in which we operate. The portfolio features iconic brands such as: Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Dove, Vaseline, Persil, Cif, Marmite and Pot Noodle.

Unilever’s ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental impact (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal). We are also committed to doing what we can to improve health, nutrition and hygiene, with a target to help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, as well as sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020. All of these goals are itemised in around 60 time-based commitments in our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever has led the Food Producers sector in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for 13 consecutive years. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. In 2011 Unilever led the Climate Counts Company Scorecard and was named #1 in the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders according to the latest survey findings from GlobeScan Inc. and SustainAbility Ltd.

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