Monday, October 26, 2009

Drinking tea

The German-language missionary discussions, at least back in the 90s, specifically said that Schwartzentee ‘black tea’ was forbidden. Tee ‘tea’ wasn't the word used, since that would have forbidden Kräutertee ‘herbal tea’, which is a different linguistic category in German. Interestingly, though, so is Grünentee ‘green tea’.

Therefore, given what we were teaching German speakers and what i got taught as an English speaker as i was growing up, i’ve wondered for a good while whether it’s legit for German-speaking Mormons to drink green tea, but not for English-speaking Mormons.


Urban Koda said...

Before I found out that Green Tea and Black Tea were essentially the same thing, I figured Green Tea was an herbal variety, since most fellow Utahn's (Myself included) enjoyed the odd cuppa. Actually I don't think most of them know either.

For myself I grew up drinking Red Tea - which is in fact herbal!

Oh, and me and the fam had 'Family Night' last night - thanks for the reminder in your last post, and giving me the option to be a good dad whilst pursuing my personal agenda to be 'evil' as well.

Michelle said...

There has been an interesting situation here in Romania about this one. In the Preach My Gospel manual in Romanian, only black tea is mentioned as a no-no, due to a misprint. So many Romanians continued to drink green tea and iced tea. It's just now coming out as the mission president is having to get the word out to people to not drink green or black or iced tea. Some people are really having a hard time with this one - knowing that they've been baptized or been to the temple, and apparently not following the Word of Wisdom. Of course, if they didn't know any different, there's nothing for them to worry about, but it's creating a bit of tension. At least they can continue to drink their fruit teas! (As far as we know...)

David B said...

@Michelle: But that’s kind of my point—is it really a misprint? I suspect it is, but sometimes i start to wonder if it’s really a big deal whether it is or not—perhaps the bigger deal is that people are willing to deny themselves something as a show of devotion, and getting sidetracked by which sorts of teas (and soft drinks!) are allowable is a simply a distraction.

“Hot drinks” really is a terribly vague phrase, despite our best efforts to disambiguate it. Rather a pity for something that’s become a pretty intense cultural marker. (Or maybe the vagueness made it easier for it to become so important?)

Urban Koda said...

I wonder if perhaps it isn't just evidence of a larger problem...

I'm not quite sure how to articulate this, but let me try...

You have this whole population of people, who are told that their instructions from God come through his chosen mouth piece, the Prophet at the time.

These are people who have received the Holy Ghost, have a sense of right and wrong and all of that.

Somehow they lose sight of this, and start to employ a tactic of blind obedience. We've reached a point where we are dependent on the prophet to know what to do and no longer trust ourselves and our capacity for decision-making and even personal revelation.

In this situation, so desperate for guidance, every word from the prophets mouth, be it advice or actual revelation becomes a binding commandment from God. And when we aren't given enough, we crave the law from our local leaders. I've even heard from some members, who have made up their own rules to to secure further blessings from God....

In the case of the Word of Wisdom, it was given as a suggestion. Joseph Smith didn't follow much of the council, neither did Brigham Young, but over time it morphed from a suggestion for a healthy lifestyle to a commandment upon which entrance to the temple was conditional - although only the parts deemed by the brethren to be important - Tea, Coffee, Drugs, and ignoring the use of grains, limited use of meat.

We've become almost like a kid who has been beaten too often by his parents. Too terrified to step out of line, to scared to try anything new. In essence paralyzed in fear until we get told what we need to do next.

"He who is commanded in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant."

Just my opinion of course.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

A few months ago the girl scouts Ani was a part of did a cooking activity. One of the things they made was pears poached in green tea. The recipes were sent home with the girls two weeks before to make sure all were okay because many girls had allergies.

I told Ani not to eat the pears (the green tea was made into a sauce poured over them). Afterward, the mom who had picked the recipes asked me why and I said it is against our religion to drink it.

That's when I found out that family were LDS, too. The mom had NO idea that green tea had caffeine. She thought it was herbal and so caffeine-free. In reality green tea is very high in caffeine (depending on how it's made it can be higher than coffee). She was totally shocked and felt all guilty about it because she and her kids drank several cups of green tea a day, but she really didn't know (she's a temple recommend holder... and doesn't drink green tea anymore).

David B said...

@Urban Koda: The whole direction vs. inspiration thing has been a tension from the start (read: the 1820s), not just more recently. I suspect it’ll be with us for a long time yet.

@Heather: What does it matter that green tea has caffeine? So does hot chocolate, but i haven’t seen much in the way of a meaningful push to avoid that in order to qualify for a temple recommend…

Urban Koda said...

Couldn't agree more!!

Actually - out of interest, I read recently that in the late 1800's and early 1900's soup and hot chocolate were included, since they met the definition of 'Hot Drinks'.

Michelle said...

Okay, I can handle no tea, but no hot chocolate???
Word from the Mission Office in Romania is that only listing black tea was a misprint, but if the same thing (although I know we're not talking about Preach My Gospel in German) happened in Germany, then I find it an odd coincidence.
Maybe this means we shouldn't pay as much attention in Sunday School, and we can get away with all sorts of things out of ignorance! ;)

Anonymous said...

Just a subject we Mormons love! Picking nits about WofW.

FYI, I have thought, just to myself, that since green tea also comes from Camellia Sinensis, as do white, red and black tea plus regular indeterminate-colored tea, I do not want to drink it. Just for myself, that is. Just like I give myself the permission to indulge in Tiramisu, especially Tiramisu Ice Cream, despite it having either coffee flavoring or — gasp! — straight coffee in it. For all practical purposes, I'm not drinking coffee. It's another step removed from where, say, iced tea stands, which is no "hot drink", either.

World would not end for me, though, if I found out that I have been drinking green tea despite my best intentions, like inside herbal concoctions.

Would you believe that I am quite comfortable with explaining these particulars in a TR interview, and have held a valid one in several units since 1981, except for a short period 2003-2005, when I was too sick to care?