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Thursday, June 16, 2005 

To a Tea

The other day, Sarah and I were talking about a Mormon friend's "accidental" drinking of a Starbuck's concoction that he "didn't know" had coffee in it. She remarked that although this probably wasn't as "accidental" as he claimed, she was flabbergasted by people who said that they had "a cup of hot chocolate to relax," when hot chocolate was loaded with caffiene.

After a brief Google search, I found this site which said that an espresso shot has about 100 mg of caffiene while a hot cocoa packet has just 5 mg of caffiene. (The more popular caffienated sodas ranged from 55-30 mgs.) Although this clears up the caffiene content of our discussion, it brought up something else I've always wondered about.

D&C 89 clearly states that we're supposed to stay away from "hot drinks" because they "are not for the body or the belly." Later it was specified that this statement referred to coffee and tea, but what if hot liquids really aren't good for you? I've always felt a little wierd about hot chocolate being allowed, but coffee ruled out. Maybe that's just because I burned my tongue too often growing up.

Another mystifying portion... perhaps one of the hotbeds of controversy in Mormondom today... is where herbal tea falls. My parents, always rule followers, did not have herbal tea in the house, and they told us that when it comes to commandments that people were interpreting, it was better to be safe than sorry. They said that some people might have herbal tea, but we weren't going to because tea was specified, so how could anyone justify herbal tea?

That argument always made sense to me, but a good portion of Mormons drink herbal tea with a clear conscience. Apparently (which I am able to say because of another Google search) this is because of Doctrine and Covenants 89:10 ("all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the Constitution, nature, and use of man").

Frankly, I still find the whole thing confusing.

Herbal tea, technically, is not tea, in that it does not come from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis).

Hot drinks aren't good for you. The damage the lining of the oesophagus. Especially if drank regularly. However, that is not the case with warm drinks. Coffee—hot, warm, or cold—is against the Word of Wisdom.

It should be noted that the Word of Wisdom doesn't actually say that we are to avoid hot drinks because they are not good for us.

I totally respect that people have to obey this commandment in the way that they feel best according to the Spirit.

Bruce R. McConkie states in "Mormon Doctrine" (a terrific albeit scary go-to book for answers to doctrinal questions) and he points out that all hot drinks are, as Kim points out, bad for our bodies, as are drinks that are too cold (funny that our bodies would function best with moderation). Warm drinks are not, neither are cool drinks.

While caffeine is considered a stimulant and we are encouraged to avoid stimulants, the Word of Wisdom sticks to tea and coffee and does not "officially" include soft drinks and chocolate. Meaning you can still get a temple recommend and drink Diet Coke. Here's where it becomes personal, you can choose for yourself, according to your own dictates of conscience, whether or not to drink Coke and eat chocolate. This is not an indication of worthiness or wickedness, but merely another step you can take if you feel it brings you closer to God, or a step you don't take if you feel that it does not affect your relationship with God.

I just wish I had never discovered the Starbucks Java Chip ice cream at Costco, because I have a sinking feeling that even eating coffee cold is borderline behavior. And for those of you who enjoy a warm drink, but who are trying not to give Starbucks all your money check out my very own brew which certainly satisfies my Scandinavian need for stimulating warm drinks!

Herbal tea is actually a tisane. It's an infusion of herbs into water. As Kim said, it is not actually "Tea" as it is not made with the leaves of the tea plant.

As for the "hot drinks" part of the WoW-- what about soup? Soup is a heated liquid that we consume but the WoW does not say anything about it. I'm inclined to agree with Kim. "Hot" things are damaging but "warm" things are not.

The missionaries teach only to abstain from coffee and tea (well, in the "hot drinks" category anyway), which is the official church position.

As Carrie Ann said, if you feel uncomfortable about something that isn't specifically mentioned, i.e., above and beyond the general guidelines, there's certainly no problem with that. We are each entitled to think for ourselves and to receive our own personal revelation.

I know when I was on my mission we had an enthusiastic member who would go behind us and preach the "true" word of wisdom to our contacts. I'm sure he meant well... but to someone struggling to give up coffee, it really doesn't help to hear that, oh by the way, what the missionaries didn't tell you is that you also have to give up A, B and C! We would rectify this on our next visit by pulling out the chart with the official church guidelines, and eventually we resorted to downing a couple of Cokes in front of this member to illustrate our point (and frankly, I don't even really care for Coke, but it served the purpose).

A few questions:

1) Are Hot/cold drinks bad for you? I've heard this before, sounded like an old wives tale to me. Where's the actual data? I'm a scientist, after all, I need data for claims like this. Show me the data!

2) If continuous consumption of hot/cold drinks is bad for you, what about the occasional mug of hot cocoa, or the occasional really cold glass of lemonade?

3) Carrie Ann, what is your special stimulating warm drink? The link you posted sends me right back here.

On the radio yesterday they mentioned that drinking something too cold in hot weather can shock your heart.

I looked on the web and I found this:

In an extract from her book, "You Are What You Eat," Dr Gillian McKeith makes some suggestions for healthy living.

The temperature of food and drink entering your body affects the strength of your spleen, your energy battery, and other organs too. Ice-cold drinks weaken the organs. Eating piping hot foods that burn your palate isn't much better, since they injure mouth membranes, damage gastric stomach lining, and degrade taste buds. Tepid or air temperature foods, drinks and water are best.

Kim says, It should be noted that the Word of Wisdom doesn't actually say that we are to avoid hot drinks because they are not good for us.

Then what does "And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly" mean? The same language ("not for the belly") is used in condemning them as in condemning alcohol and tobacco -- and my Sunday School and Relief Society lessons last week told me that alcohol and tobacco are bad for me.

Of course, it does say they're not for the belly; it doesn't say "hot drinks are not for the oesophagus." I'd like to see that in scripture.

That aside...

I haven't always liked the taste of herbal teas (I drink them with a lot of honey, which may negate their healthy purpose), but I've never found anything that can calm my stomach as fast/easily as a mug of camomile tea. Because of that, I've always felt/assumed that herbal teas with medicinal properties like that are exempt from the WoW -- especially if the purpose of the WoW is to keep us healthy.

I love hot chocolate and I drink chamomile tea quite regularly, it's helped my health condition.

But there is something I believe: it really doesn't matter unless there is excess, in bad habits, I mean. Because Frank Shorter died of a heart attack, didn't he, when somebody else can do nothing healthy and live to be 100.

I know, I know, we're supposed to take care of our bodies, but I think we can just live normally and reasonably and be okay, or not, as God chooses.

The only thing I've noticed is that there are very few aged fat people or drunks or addicts. Otherwise, it's the luck of the draw--or heredity.

I love herbal tea and grew up drinking it. No sugar. Just plants and fruits...mmmm.

My special concoction is called


add equal parts of Postum (I like this best..Pero is laking fullness)
sugar (or splenda)
plain cocoa (not hot chocolate but to each his own)
and non dairy creamer

milk or cream to cool it off

I pour the whole jar of Postum into a bowl and then use the Postum jar as a measuring cup to measure out the equal parts of everything else (use a little less cocoa for a more "coffee" taste).

I make HUGE batches of this at a time and usually give half of it away to friends and neighbors. I give them their first dose for free and they always come back for more...

Carrie Ann - I have run out. Can you spot me? I need it bad. Real bad.

A few months ago our stake president spoke during our ward conference sacrament meeting. He ran down the temple recommend questions and outlined what they meant exactly. My favorite part (I don't usually have "favorite parts" of talks, but this is really good!) was when he clarified what keeping the word of wisdom meant. And I quote:

"It has been revealed that 'hot drinks' was reference to coffee and tea - that is tea made from tea leaves and not herbal teas. Just because a coffee is decaffinated does not make it acceptable. The word of wisdom is NOT about caffeine. So you can go ahead and drink your hot chocolate and Diet Cokes."

Do you love this guy as much as I do?! How many stake presidents do you know that would give the "ok" for Diet Coke over the pulpit? I know he's not the prophet...but it's good enough for me!

"Then what does 'and again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly' mean?"

It means we are not to drink tea and coffee.

"Sunday School and Relief Society lessons last week told me that alcohol and tobacco are bad for me"

In some regards they are bad for your health. I am not arguing that. What I am arguing is that the Lord didn't tell us to abstain from them because they are bad for our health. He didn't tell us why we are to abstain from hem.

Having grown up drinking all sorts of warm and iced tea--especially the black tea favored by my Irish and English ancestors--I will say that it was a hard thing to give up after my baptism. Thank goodness I didn't have to give up the chamomile tea or I don't know how I would have survived :) Herbal tea calms my stomach and my nerves and is basically the only thing that works for me when I'm sick.

Although I am not an active member now, and have gone back to drinking that evil black/green tea fairly regularly, I respect each person's decision on what to put in their body and what they feel they should go without.

My personal research suggests that science has found more benefits to drinking tea than abstaining from it (something about antioxidants, etc). I'm sure there are other studies that disagree with this, but I'm much to lazy to look them up, and it doesn't really matter to me. For me, drinking tea has always been a cultural/family/self-medicating thing and never a "ohh I MUCH prefer this to chocolate" because while I do enjoy chocolate more, it worsens my chronic fatigue syndrome while tea helps it. Go figure.

Moderation is key though. I think too much of anything will have a negative affect on your health...this includes tea, chocolate, coffee, and Diet Coke BigGulps from 7-11.

What about eating coffee beans?

Cool guestbook, interesting information... Keep it UP
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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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