Plasma total homocysteine concentrations (tHcy) are a putative risk factor for CVD. Tea is a rich dietary source of polyphenols and caffeine, both of which may raise tHcy. However, it is possible that much of any effect is transitory and may be influenced by the consumption of food. Our objective was to investigate the acute effect of tea, at a dose representative of ordinary population intakes, on tHcy and to determine whether consumption of a meal influences the magnitude of any effect. Measurements of tHcy were performed in twenty participants at baseline and 3.5 h after drinking three cups of black tea or hot water (consumed at time 0, 1.5 and 3 h) with and without a meal: a total of four treatments administered in random order. Drinking tea resulted in an acute increase in tHcy (0.30 (95 % Cl 0.04, 0.56) mu mol/l, P=0.022). The meal resulted in an acute decrease in tHcy (-0.42 (95% CI -0.68, -0.16) mu mol/1, P=0.002). There was no interaction between tea and meal on tHcy (P=0.40); that is, the effect of tea on tHcy was not different in the fasting and non-fasting state. Our results suggest that drinking black tea can cause a small acute increase in tHcy and that this effect is not enhanced in the non-fasting state. Given that results of population studies have generally shown a negative association between tea intake and tHcy, the significance of these findings to CVD risk remains uncertain.