Tea saved lives during the 1700s.

Tea saved lives in the Industrial Revolution

Tea saved lives in the Industrial Revolution

New research has found that the drink's surge in popularity was connected to a fall in deaths in England during the Industrial Revolution - a period when sanitation was often poor.

Experts think that the boiling water used to make the beverage killed off bacteria and parasites that were responsible for deadly illnesses such as dysentery.

Professor Francisca Antman, an expert at the University of Colorado Boulder, explained: "The nice thing about this setting is that it occurred before we knew the importance of clean water.

"The evidence suggests that tea became affordable to nearly everyone in England in the late 1780s, during the Industrial Revolution.

"Population density was rising, cities were really growing, people were being packed tighter and tighter. That should actually be a period where we see a lot of increasing mortality. But we end up seeing this surprising decline in mortality that can be explained by the introduction of tea and, more specifically, the boiling of water."