Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tea: why it is not an appropriate cure for everything

I love to drink tea. In fact, the only thing I like drinking more than tea is alcohol, and I have found this gets me exceptionally drunk if I try to consume it as frequently as I do a good strong cuppa. No-one bats an eyelid at me quaffing bucketloads of tea at 8 in the morning, not to mention that it is good for me, and can help me through the most trying of situations. There are certain times when nothing but tea will do.

Take this week for example, when the hot beverage has proven itself to be my saviour. As you may have picked up from previous posts, the weather has taken a turn for the worse recently, and hasn’t seen the right side of zero degrees for the last two weeks. This was fine when I was working from home and didn’t have to face the bitter temperature, but since returning to the office it has become more of an issue – not least because the heating system in the building has decided it was being overworked and elected to go on strike. 

I believe my addiction to tea helped me deal with the temperature better than my colleagues, because each cup would warm me up from the stomach outwards as I devoured the deliciously hot liquid contained within. As long as I permanently had a cup of tea on the go, I found I was able to maintain a bearable body heat, assisted only by three pairs of socks, a vest, a t-shirt, a jumper, a cardigan, a pair of leggings, lined trousers and a scarf. Oh, and a wonderful pair of USB heated slippers given to me as a gift by the lady I share a cold section of the office with. 

It’s a good job there weren’t any clients in, because I was frequently seen nipping to the toilet in my plug-in slippers – a simply unavoidable phenomenon thanks to the significant volume of tea consumed in order to keep warm. 

Without tea, I would have succumbed to the cold, but with it, I was able to face the temperatures bravely and with a smile on my face. Let me stress that this is just regular have-it-with-a-splash-of-milk tea that made me feel better by keeping my body temperature at a reasonable level – I haven’t even started on the virtues of herbal teas, amongst which is a whole world of ailment busting remedies.

Take peppermint tea for example. Peppermint tea is the king of herbal teas. Traditionally renowned for its ability in aiding digestion, I prescribe it willy-nilly to anyone for pretty much any complaint they may mention in passing.

OK, so it can’t cure everything, but it is great for settling indigestion and the menthol vapours really help clear out the nasal cavities and soothe wheezy chests – particularly effective if you cuddle the mug to your face in between sips and inhale the steam. It is a wonderful drink, as long as you can get past the initial sensation that you are drinking chewing gum.

And that is where the problem lies. Not everyone can cope with tea and its various forms and flavours. Take the lady I used to sit with at my last job, who suffered a severe bout of morning sickness with her second child and who decided to give ginger tea a go in order to lessen her troubles - which makes perfect sense because ginger is known for its nausea-quelling abilities. Sadly, the woman in question hated ginger with such a passion, the tea didn’t exactly have the calming effect she had hoped for, instead intensifying the sickness she was feeling and making her feel worse than ever. 

By the way, I didn’t suggest she try ginger tea – trying the tea was an idea all of her own. I’d hate to give the impression that I prescribe tea to pregnant ladies and make them sick.

This is one example of tea failing to be an appropriate cure. I have another example, for which I have to thank my Dad, his willingness to believe me, and most importantly my stupidity (without which, the following events could not have occurred).

Many years ago when I still lived with my parents, we went on a family visit to see my nan and granddad. During the visit, my dad’s eyes got really sensitive – red, itchy and watering, he was suffering with the full works. I wanted to help, and recalled reading at some point previously (in a publication I cannot recall the details of) that the tannins from tea can help to sooth and moisturise the eyes, kind of like cucumber does, but in tea form. Taking the role of chief of herbal medicine, I suggested he lay down with a couple of used tea bags over his eyes for a few minutes. For some reason, he agreed to give it a go – my genuine belief that this was the right thing to do must have outweighed any apprehension he may have felt.

Needless to say, this was a mistake. The tea bags can’t have spent more than 5 minutes in place, but by the time they had been removed, the skin around Dad’s eyes had been dyed strong-tea orange. It was not a good look, but it was most definitely giggle-worthy. I can’t even remember if it stopped his eyes itching because I was apparently too busy being doubled up with laughter to notice.  

I guess what I’m suggesting is that if I prescribe you tea to drink, it could be worth listening because it might just work. If I ever suggest that you use tea of any variety or form on your body, you should probably run away. Or say no. That would be equally as effective and much less energetic.


  1. I love your stories and the way in which you write, as well. I always look forward to new posts. Please keep it up! :)

  2. Thank you so much! I really enjoy writing the posts so it's great to know the end product is appreciated - reading your comment made my day!