02 December 2006

Tea Time

I took a class about the arts associated with Zen and Tao shortly before we moved to Beirut. I was fascinated by the subject matter, delighted by the application of these philosophies/religions to the arts, culture, and even aspects of daily living. The harmony among these seemingly divided pursuits appealed to my sense of universalism. That art, belief, and life are all part of the same big picture is something that I have always felt anyway.

Among the arts that Zen influences is the tea ceremony. There are whole books, some of them ancient, about how to properly prepare, present, and drink tea. They describe in detail the correct proportion and appointment of the room, the manner of the guests, their optimal mode of dress, arrival, and conversation.

Tea continues to be an art in Japan, and a ritual in Britain. It was neither in my childhood home. My mother drank tea only when she was ill, and encouraged all of us to do the same. She drank an infusion called ‘rose-hip’ which still makes me think of head colds and flu bugs. I have no memory of ever taking her up on her offer, but she still swears by it.

Later, when I was an adult and went a-traveling, I discovered that with enough sugar anything tastes great, and a hot cup of anything takes the edge off a cold day. I began experimenting with my favorite drinks and found that flat soda is down right divine hot. Root Beer becomes sassafras tea. Sprite becomes a delicate lemony delight.

I don’t care for sugar as much as I used to, which I guess means I’m getting old. It actually makes my mouth ache. Plus, I never have flat soda around like I did when I was single. The stuff gets consumed before it has a chance to fizzle out. When I went to London last month I had the best cup of peppermint tea that I have ever had. I had it without sugar because there was no sugar on my table. And I admit, I’m hooked. Every morning since I got back to Beirut I’ve had a cup of peppermint tea. A box of individually wrapped bags had been lurking in our cabinet since the beginning of 2005.

Some of you know that I was learning French this summer, and lets just say I’m still an absolute beginner. I can’t even say “I’m learning French” in French. Today that came back to bite me when, at the grocery store I bought green tea with peppermint instead of peppermint all by itself because I didn’t bother to realize that vert means green.

It smells fantastic.

I can not find even one authoritative source that indicates its status within the LDS church’s dietary guidelines. I’ve done all the research I can, and I have come to what I think is a very safe conclusion about it. Does anyone out there have access to anything authoritative about this?


Josh said...

i understand that rose hips, whatever they are, are just loaded with vitamin C.

i know what you mean about tea. as a missionary in korea, i got completely hooked on green tea. i heard from someone that there was twice as much caffeine in green tea as in coffee (which would explain how i got hooked). after a year or so in korea, we were visited by elder lionel kendrick of the seventy, and pres. of the asia north area. the area was hq'd in tokyo and he rarely made it to korea. but on this trip, he was surprised to see korean lds member drinking green tea. in japan, it was strictly forbidden for members because it was from the same plant as black tea (or english tea), Camellia sinensis, only green tea is not oxidized as much in the manufacturing process. oolong tea is another variant that falls in between black and green teas in terms of oxidation. anyway, elder kendrick notified korean stake presidents that green tea was the kind of tea prohibited by the word of wisdom. i'd be surprised if you could find that in writing anywhere. but, at the rate green tea is becoming popular outside of asia (you can buy it by the gallon at walmart), i wouldn't be surprised to see the church make a clear statement on it in the next few years.

Mary Ann said...

Yes, green tea is derived from the same plant as black tea, but grape juice and wine are as well. Same story with bread and beer. I don't think that alone is really meaningful. The fermentation process changes it, and green tea is unfermented.

Also, the information I found listed green tea as having many times less caffeine than black--so I have no idea how you got hooked on it.

Mary Ann said...

Here's a link to some info about the differences between green and black tea.

Dad said...

I cannot help with that matter as I do not like any of the black or green teas and I do not drink peppermint tea either. My favorite hot drink is water with lemon. How boring, the only way it could be worse would be just hot water, right? Now, give me some soy milk warmed up with 4 dove dark chocolate pieces and let the controversy abound!

suz said...

with all the health benefits they keep throwing at you about green tea, it ought to be allowed...

i never really understood why teas were considered bad under the wow. the only negatives i know about them are the caffine (which is not forbidden anyway), and the fact that some teas inhibit your ability to absorb iron properly. and for that matter, the only negative thing i've heard about coffee is that if you drink too much, you might affect your liver functions.

i think the whole underlying principal of the wow is moderation. too much of anything is bad for you. some things, like cigarettes (no denying that they're bad for you), ought to be avoided, but tea? who knows.... i say if it's not mentioned specifically, it's fair game.

Matthew said...

Which is an odd reputation, since Mormonism actually has an odd habbit of banning anything that might cause problems for a small percentage of the users. Wine anyone?