BRITISH experts said it was too early to say if drinking tea really can stave off Alzheimer's disease.

A study of older people found regular consumers had better working brains.

It applied to all types including oolong tea, green tea or black tea - such as PG Tips, Tetley, Yorkshire Tea and Typhoo.

Dr James Connell, research manager at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "While constituents of a number of natural products have been reported to have medicinal properties, it is too early to conclude that tea drinking is a direct cause of better brain health.

"This is a very small study and it's difficult to conclude anything meaningful from this research.

"Those who regularly drink tea may also partake in other interests and behaviours that also need to be taken into account as they could influence the outcome of such studies.

"Dementia is complex and caused by physical diseases of the brain but there are things we can do to reduce our risk of developing the condition.

"The best current evidence to help reduce our risk of memory and thinking problems later in life includes sticking to a healthy well-balanced diet, not smoking, drinking within the recommended limits, staying mentally and physically active, and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check."

Fiona Carragher, chief policy and research officer at Alzheimer's Society, said: "Research into the effects of tea drinking has been hotly debated for years, but little evidence has been found to suggest that tea has any effect on the development of dementia.

"This study suggests that some areas of the brain are better connected in tea drinkers.

"But it does not explore whether it affects dementia risk or look at the effects of tea on people already living with dementia.

"Dementia is now the UK's biggest killer and while we work on a cure or a way to slow down the disease, we need to understand how we can prevent people getting dementia in the first place.

"What we do know from existing research is that what is good for the heart is good for the brain - if you like drinking tea, keep it sugar free.

"The best way to lower your risk of developing dementia is to stay active, eat a balanced diet and avoid drinking too much alcohol or smoking."

The National University of Singapore team, working with colleagues at the universities of Essex and Cambridge, said the beverage makes grey matter more organised.

It stops connections between neurons from breaking down, they said.

Two years ago they analysed almost 1,000 people in China and found drinking tea halved their risk of developing dementia over the next decade.

Now scans of three dozen over 60s in Singapore has shown those who drank tea at least four times a week had more efficiently connected brain regions.