Peter F. Goggi, President of the Tea Association of the US released a statement following the findings, pointing to tea's health benefits, including research suggesting it could actually prevent cancer. Tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as the chemical compounds and adverse thermal effect of hot tea, considerably complicate the association between tea drinking and cancer risk.
Public health researcher Jun Lv and her colleagues in Beijing tracked 456,155 persons between the ages of 30 and 79 years from 10 regions across China between 2004 and 2008.
But it doesn't apply to everyone, just people who smoke or drink alcohol. The participants all completed surveys outlining their tobacco, alcohol and tea habits.
During a median follow-up of 9.2 years, 1731 incident esophageal cancer cases were documented. People who only drank hot tea did not see a significant increase in cancer risk.
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While this is one of the largest studies of its type, it did not ask participants to measure the exact temperature of their daily cup of tea, instead asking participants to select from the four categories of room temperature, or warm, hot or burning hot.
Drinking scalding hot tea is associated with an increased risk of esophageal tumors in people who also smoke and drink alcohol, two habits that already make many cancers more likely, a Chinese study suggests.
There's no increased risk for you.
However, before panic ensues, experts say there is no reason to stop drinking the beverage as most people drink it below 65C or 149F temperature.
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According to the research, tea drinkers who had more than one daily alcoholic drink (glass of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of liquor) had a 12 percent more chance of getting cancer.
Observational studies like this can show links between factors - such as tea drinking and cancer - but can't prove that one causes another, as it's not possible to account for all the potential alternative explanations for the link.
At the start of the study, none of the participants had cancer.
Of course, it's not a good idea to repeatedly burn your mouth and throat with hot drinks of any sort, so drinking beverages at a sensible temperature is recommended to avoid injury.
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'For these and other reasons, these findings should be interpreted cautiously'. "However, the results of this study should not cause people to abandon their favourite beverages".