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 ones
health. The text has notable quotations
scattered through it; I particularly liked the saying of Lu Tung, and
eighth-century poet and tea master:
I am in no way interested in
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
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
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. Johns 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
Not all the information is strictly
accurate: one error I was competent to discern was Dillmans assertion that in
Great Britain a 4:00 pm teatime is still strictly observed. Not only is this not true now, but it hasnt
been true for the last thirty years at least!
Whats 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
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