How a cup of tea could save your life

Can't wake up without a cup of coffee? Maybe it's time to rethink your drink -- because coffee isn't as healthy as you've been led to believe.

Make the switch to tea instead.

A steaming mug of tea is not only a great way to open your eyes, it's also a whole lot healthier than coffee, with studies finding time and again that tea drinkers have a lower risk of chronic disease.

And now, new research finds a daily tea habit could add years to your life.

Overall, drinking tea regularly will slash your risk of a premature death by 24 percent, according to the new study presented at a recent meeting of the European Society for Cardiology.

That helps explain why tea-crazy Japan has one of the highest longevity rates on the planet.

One of the reasons, of course, is that tea contains more heart-friendly flavonoids and other healthy compounds than coffee. And while both coffee and tea contain some antioxidants, tea has more.

Coffee, on the other hand, is overloaded with far too much caffeine, which comes with risks of its own (especially if you're sensitive to caffeine, as many people are -- and most don't realize it).

The study actually goes even further than most and finds that coffee drinkers have a higher risk of heart problems than people who drink neither coffee nor tea, but I'm not sure coffee deserves that much blame.

In the study, coffee drinkers were more likely to smoke and less likely to be active, so that's probably more of the reason.

But let's get back to tea, because it's not just good for your heart. Tea can also help protect your brain and fight dementia, prevent cancer if you haven't had it and reduce a risk of recurrence if you have, and even fight the free radicals linked to aging and all the health problems that come along for the ride.

And best of all, tea comes in a variety of styles and flavors -- from cancer-fighting green teas to sleep-inducing herbals.