Does pure tea leaf have antioxidants? Yes. Unlike coffee beans, where much of the antioxidant content is generated during the roasting process, raw tea leaves are a potent source to begin with. In fact, the dried tea leaf ORAC value is "off the charts" when you compare it to beverages made with it, such as black or green tea (both come from the Camellia sinensis, the difference is how they are processed).Given its high amount of phenolic compounds, you may be tempted to make a tea leaf salad, but that might not be good for you. There is a high amount of tannins present, which can cause digestive issues when consumed in excess. Plus, this plant is known for its high natural fluoride content, as the root system is a magnet for sucking up fluoride from the soil. There would also be a high amount of caffeine present. In short, drinking tea can be quite healthy, but eating concentrated amounts of the dried leaves as a food is problematic for multiple reasons.
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Volume 13, Issue 1. NIH 2007