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Review of "The Little Book of Healthy Teas"

By Erika Dillman
Warner Books, 2002
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Dec 18th 2002
The Little Book of Healthy Teas

Here is another in the Little Book series by Erika Dillman, this time on healthy teas.  This surprisingly informative guide to teas is divided into six chapters, which together explain how tea is made, where it comes from, what kinds there are, and the ways it can be used to improve one’s health.  The text has notable quotations scattered through it; I particularly liked the saying of Lu T’ung, and eighth-century poet and tea master:

I am in no way interested in immortality

but only in the taste of tea.

Dillman makes the following claims about the health benefits of tea:

·        Tea may reduce the risk of heart disease.

·        Tea has the potential to reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer.

·        Tea aids digestion.

·        Tea reduces fatigue and improves concentration.

·        Tea prevents cavities.

·        Tea relaxes and revives mind and body.

·        Tea may be helpful in combating arthritis and rheumatism.

·        Tea may be helpful as a weight-loss aid. (Pages 36-7).

She goes on to explain about the antioxidants in tea, its cholesterol-reducing properties, and other ways that it promotes good health.  Another chapter discusses particular kinds of tea used as herbal remedies.  She lists many varieties, including bilberry to soothe sore throats and mouth ulcers, and to treat diarrhea, chamomile to soothe and calm, relieve nausea, fight bladder infections, reduce water retention, and treat digestive disorders, ginseng to reduce stress and fatigue and also to improve physical performance and heighten mental acuity, passionflower for insomnia, anxiety and nervousness as well as menstrual pain, St. John’s Wort to treat moderate depression, anxiety and insomnia, and valerian to treat anxiety, nervous tension, and insomnia.  The book does not contain much information about how best to prepare the teas, nor any detailed discussion of the evidence for the supposed health benefits of the different teas. 

Not all the information is strictly accurate: one error I was competent to discern was Dillman’s assertion that in Great Britain a 4:00 pm teatime is still strictly observed.  Not only is this not true now, but it hasn’t been true for the last thirty years at least!  What’s more, Britain is increasingly become a country of coffee drinkers, with Starbucks and other coffee houses becoming very common in most cities, and supermarket shelves offering many different brands of instant coffee.  The book does not address the difficult issue of where to find a good teapot in the US.  My experience in searching for a traditional English teapot, a Brown Bess, how shown the best place to look is in antique stores.  One might also visit the Chinatown of a large city if looking for eastern-style pots. 

Despite its limitations, The Little Book of Healthy Teas is a nicely produced guide for those starting out in their exploration of the world of tea. 

 

© 2002 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.

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