Tannins or tannic acid are not present in tea. Tea polyphenols were formerly referred to as tannins or tannic acids due to the similarities in the chemical structure. This has left many misguided notions about the effect of tea upon the human digestive system. Chemists generally group compounds into ‘families’ on account of common features in the synthesis of the molecules. For example both strychnine and morphine are alkaloids and have common structural features but the action on the human body is different. Strychnine is a powerful stimulant and morphine a powerful hypnotic.
Vegetable tannins are a large chemical family and some of them are loosely called tannic acids. These compounds possess the property of hardening animal tissues and turning hide into leather. Tea polyphenols on the other hand are called catechins, theaflavins and thearubigens, and are responsible for many of the health benefits associated with tea. Such as anti-hypercholestemic action, anti-hyperglycemic action, fat reduction action, anti-hypertensive action, anti- cancer action and many other health promoting effects. Current scientific literature points to the fact that tea polyphenols are biochemically very different to tannins.