A study at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet County has showed that Kenyans take the hottest tea in the world.
The study published in the June 2019 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Journal established Kenyans in Western region prefer hot tea above 72°C, the highest recorded so far.
Tea with temperature above 65°C increases rates of throat or food pipe cancer according to International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Recently, high rates of throat cancer have been recorded in Western Kenya.
The study compared the temperatures at which Kenyans drink their tea and found it higher than in Tanzania, Brazil, China, Germany, US, Iran and UK which are the areas of high throat cancers.
The research which involved 100 adult men and women accompanying patients at Tenwek Hospital had three sets of questions based on tea temperatures preferences.
The adults were asked how they liked their tea, either “warm”, “hot” or “very hot”.
Majority, 64 per cent responded that they liked it hot.
Then the temperature of the tea was measured using a digital thermometer, with most participants on average taking their tea at 72.1°C.
Below is a summary of the study;
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is common in certain areas worldwide. One area, western Kenya, has a high risk of ESCC, including many young cases (<30 years old), but has limited prior study of potential risk factors. Thermal injury from hot food and beverages and exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been proposed as important risk factors for ESCC in other settings. The beverage of choice in western Kenya is milky tea (chai).
Healthy individuals >18 years of age who were accompanying relatives to an endoscopy unit were recruited to participate. The preferred initial temperature of tea consumption in these adults was measured by questionnaire and digital thermometer. Comparisons of these results were assessed by kappa statistics. Concentrations of 26 selected PAHs were determined by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry in samples of 11 brands of commercial tea leaves commonly consumed in Kenya.
Kappa values demonstrated moderate agreement between questionnaire responses and measured temperatures. The mean preferred tea temperatures were 72.1 °C overall, 72.6 °C in men (n = 78), and 70.2 °C in women (n = 22; p < 0.05). Tea temperature did not significantly differ by age or ethnic group. The PAH levels in the commercial Kenyan tea leaves were uniformly low (total PAH < 300 ng/g of leaves).
Study participants drink tea at higher temperatures than previously reported in other high-risk ESCC regions. Tea is not, however, a source of significant PAH exposure. Very hot tea consumption should be further evaluated as a risk factor for ESCC in Kenya with the proposed questionnaire.