Columbia JReubs

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Various and Sundry Teas

Green tea is the big craze in my office right now. Robeks (smoothie store like Jamba Juice) has this green tea smoothie that everyone keeps getting. I was at Starbucks on a firm-sponsored "coffee break," and when they didn't have my beloved apple cider (about which I was distraught), I ordered chai tea, thinking that was my best shot at being "kosher." I got back to my office, and discovered (I think) that chai tea is not okay, and so had to throw away my $4.00 cup.

I've always thought that "herbal" tea and "fruit" tea are okay, whereas "black" tea was not. I've never known about "green" or "chai." My limited googling seems to suggest that chai is based on black tea, and is therefore not okay. Green tea is distinct from black, and the way the tea is prepared seems to have caffeine, but green tea extract may not (this is unclear to me). If green tea extract has no caffeine, is it then okay to drink it? If it has only a little amount, is it okay to get a green tea smoothie? Green tea is supposedly wildly healthy--all sorts of antioxidants and such.

Has anyone thought about this?


  • In Brazil, this was a subject of question on my mission. At first, the mission rule was that no one could get baptized if they drank black tea, matte, or "chimarrao." Later, the rule was clarified and only black tea was officially prohibited. I suppose half of the members in the southern part of Brazil would be violating the word of wisdom if the rule was otherwise.

    Personally, I choose to just not drink it to not have to worry about where the line is, but it's obviously not a clear issue.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 7:15 PM  

  • I served my mission in Hong Kong where tea is not only a drink but an entire culture. Green tea was not permitted. Maybe some of our others who served in Taiwan or other parts of Asia could chime in.

    By Blogger Phil, at 6:34 AM  

  • Somehow, I just don't trust the standards that foreign wards use for the word of wisdom. As my Mission President always said, the church tends to lose a little something coming across the Atlantic. ;)

    Upon further googling (i love wikipedia), it looks like even green tea has caffeine. And this from the "herbal tea" is informative:

    "An herbal tea, tisane, or ptisan is an herbal infusion not made from the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). (Varieties of "real" tea include black, oolong, green, yellow, and white tea.) Tisanes can be made with fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seeds or roots, generally by pouring boiling water over the plant parts and letting them steep for a few minutes. Seeds and roots can also be boiled on a stove. The tisane is then strained, sweetened if so desired, and served."

    Green tea is lumped in with "real" teas, and distinct from herbal tea.

    Fruit tea was a big craze on my mission; Germans love it. I tried to get into it because it's healthy, and doesn't have all the sugar and fat that hot chocolate or cider have. But it's just not nearly as good as the Starbucks cider (complete with caramel and whipped cream).

    Anyway, I now feel tea-informed.

    By Blogger blaine, at 10:55 AM  

  • A few thoughts:

    (1) In Taiwan, those untrustworthy foreign wards used the "tea leaf" (cha ye - "cha" means tea in Mandarin) standard. That is, if it is made from tea leaves, it is forbidden by the word of wisdom. Essentially, all we drank was flower and fruit teas.

    (2) According to D&C 89, "hot drinks are not for the body or belly," so either your apple cider is also forbidden, or hot drinks is more of a "mushy standard" (isn't that the technical legal terminology?") If you have put this much research and thought into to it simply so that you won't be guilty of disobeying an otherwise unclear standard, I think you will be okay when it comes time for judgment.

    By Blogger Ben James, at 7:35 PM  

  • Our mission (Ukraine) had a similar standard to Ben's. Nothing made from any kind of tea leaves (all of the kinds that Blaine listed). The official instruction on teaching the Word of Wisdom (I assume from the area presidency, who were all products of the safe-side of the Atlantic) was to tell investigators "No black tea, no great tea; only fruit or herbal [flower/grass] tea." I love the stuff, especially with honey.

    By Blogger Cliff, at 11:13 AM  

  • You know, the "standard" thing is interesting. "Hot drinks" would seem to preclude all teas--including fruit and herbal--as well as hot chocolate and cider, but allow iced coffee, iced tea, Cola, etc. So it's an interesting "interpretive" question, if you will. A friend of mine calls me a dirty textualist every time he sees me drinking caffeinated soda.

    It's funny too that the "intent" of the "Hot Drinks" provision has come to mean the avoidance of caffeeine. President Belnap said something about this in a stake leadership meeting recently, and his answer was that there are hundreds of chemicals in coffee, and he's not sure which ones the WoW was "intended" to avoid.

    The obvious (and very important!) answer is that there is a letter and spirit of the WoW, and that we should both totally avoid the clearly prohibited substances and work to keep our bodies clean of substances which share certain characteristics with the clearly prohibited substances.

    While we're at it, I'm curious to hear anyone's thoughts on what the "In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days" means. I remember reading something by, I think, President Packer where he tied this statement to the underground drug and (at one point) alcohol markets. His point was that besides the effects on our health (mentioned elsewhere in the revelation) and addiction to substance, we become enslaved to conspiring and evil men.

    By Blogger blaine, at 8:12 AM  

  • Don't drink lemon and ginger tea. Just had it this morning -- no good. It's WoW-cleared (except for Ben) but tastes like lighter fluid with a citrus tang.


    By Blogger jennejohn, at 11:27 AM  

  • All the Asian Mormons I know drink flower and fruit teas, but not green, black, or chai teas.

    And even though caffeinated sodas are supposedly okay (since I've seen sundry bishops drinking full-caffeine Coke) - how come BYU only serves caffeine-free drinks? It's like how we're supposedly allowed to use birth control but BYU Health Insurance won't cover the Pill.

    I get that BYU policy isn't necessary church policy, but come on, it's the "Lord's University." I'm getting mixed messages over here...

    By Blogger Nancy, at 10:48 AM  

  • White tea, green tea, oolong, and black tea are all harvested from the same plant species---the Camellia sinensis---but are processed to attain different levels of oxidation.

    By Blogger Heather T, at 4:07 PM  

  • My authority (weak): Taiwan RM. And I echo what Ben and Nancy say about practice.

    What I really want to say, though, is that what the Church loses in crossing the Atlantic (which I can't really speak to) or Pacific (in my current case) is not necessarily bad. Surely some Inter-mountain Mormania is best left where it fomented.

    By Blogger Machu Picchu, at 6:51 PM  

  • ... or 'was formented' or 'formed' or some other verb like that.

    By Blogger Machu Picchu, at 6:52 PM  

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