Drinking tea is more beneficial than drinking water, according to research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Tea not only rehydrates you as well as water does, but it can also offer protection against heart disease and cancer because it contains protective antioxidants known as flavanoids.
The researchers say their findings could benefit older members of the population, many of whom do not drink much water and so run the risk of dehydration.
Previous studies have shown that drinking just three a day can cut the risk of having a heart attack by 11 per cent.
It has also been shown to stave off some forms of cancer, including colorectal cancer.
Other health benefits include reducing tooth decay and possibly improving bone strength.
Some studies have suggested the caffeine in tea can also help concentration and improve your mood.
The key component is a group of antioxidants called flavonoids – a major component of tea – which help prevent cell damage.
Like fruit and vegetables, tea is a good natural source of flavonoids – three cups actually contain eight times the antioxidant capacity of an apple.