Phenolics are suggested to be the major bioactive compounds responsible for the health benefits of tea. Seven types of tea were extracted using boiling water. The extraction kinetics was investigated. To more fully characterise the antioxidant profiles and possible associated health benefits of these tea types, the total water-soluble solid content, phenolics, flavonoids, and antioxidant and antiproliferative activities were quantified. Green tea leaves (GTL) were found to have the highest phenolic content (128.7 ± 1.7 mg g−1, P < 0.05), followed by teas of decaffeinated green tea bag (dGTB), green tea bag (GTB), black tea bag (BTB), decaffeinated BTB, black tea leaves and oolong tea leaves (OTL). Among the three leaf teas, GT displayed the greatest antioxidant activity (4850.2 ± 60.7 μmol g−1, P < 0.05), followed by black tea (BT) and oolong tea (OT). As for the four bag teas, decaffeinated GT possessed the strongest antioxidant activity (4431.1 ± 335.0 μmol g−1, P < 0.05), followed by GT, BT and decaffeinated BT. The results display that phenolic/flavonoid content well correlated with antioxidant activity. Proliferation of three human cancer cells was significantly inhibited in a dose-dependent manner after exposure to some tea extracts. This may influence consumers in selecting the type of tea and tea brewing times, exhibiting greater health benefits.