rinking tea daily may improve health, extend life and help reduce the risk of some life-threatening diseases, new research suggests.

Chinese scientists found that drinking two-to-four cups of tea lowered the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

"Higher tea intake was associated with lower mortality risk among those drinking two or more cups per day," the study found. "These findings suggest that tea, even at higher levels of intake, can be part of a healthy diet."

The researchers, who evaluated 11 years of data, published their findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Their findings will be presented next week at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

The study found that "higher tea intake was modestly associated with lower all-cause mortality risk among those who drank two or more cups per day."

Drinking at least four cups per day of black, green or oolong tea lowered the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 17%. Drinking one-to-three cups daily lowered the risk by 4% and the risk of developing diabetes went down by 1% for each additional cup.

Xiaying Li, a co-author of the study and a researcher at Wuhan University of Science and Technology, said in a statement that the results are "exciting" because they offer hope for people to lessen their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.