I am known in my family as a great sufferer when ill. I sit around in my misery, moaning and sighing. Picture Felix Unger of ‘The Odd Couple’ in a pink bathrobe. I assemble all my many remedies around me. Someone once asked me exactly what my remedies were. I started to make a list. When I got to number twenty, I was too embarrassed to keep on.
My major virus remedy is hot tea. The past two weeks of suffering the misery of a wicked virus, I relied heavily on Celestial Seasonings India Chai—black Assam tea flavored with spices. I laced it liberally with fresh lemon slices and sweetened with dark amber agave syrup. I would make it piping hot and hold the cup with both hands beneath my poor suffering nose and inhale deeply before drinking. Ah, heaven…
I can see the tea epicureans out there shaking their heads. A tea sold even at Dollar General stores. The black tea is almost ground, in a bag.
But Celestial Seasonings has something that I have not found on any of the finest, most expensive brands of flavored teas—the notice of: Gluten-Free.
I am one of the estimated three million Americans who have Celiac Disease. Never heard of it? Neither had I, until eight years ago, when I became terribly ill.
In the most basic terms, celiac disease, or gluten-intolerance, means that I cannot digest gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye grains. The effect whenever I ingest even microscopic amounts of gluten is much the same as if I had taken rat poison. The lining of my stomach is damaged, and other organs can be involved, too. Thus it is vital that the offending grains, in any form, never cross my lips.
As an example of what I deal with on a daily basis, at Christmastime I received the gift of a Celestial Seasonings flavored tea. A quick glance at the label revealed barley malt as an ingredient. I know my friend had picked up the tea, thinking it safe for me simply because it was tea. Who would have thought it would have gluten?
Gluten can show up in surprising places, one being natural flavorings, which can be made from gluten-containing grains. Back in 2001, when newly diagnosed, I contacted one quality tea company to ask about the possibility of gluten being in their flavorings; the company could not tell me, and showed no interest in finding out. After that I gave up on having flavored teas for some time.
Today, thanks to greater education in the food industry and new labeling laws, things are vastly safer for celiacs. It is much less likely for gluten to be hidden in flavorings. I still appreciate that Celestial Seasonings makes my life easier with those simple words at the bottom of the label: Gluten Free. This indicates to me that they are aware of the problem for millions of people, and they took the time to know exactly what is contained in their product.
It is my hope that all tea makers will begin to label their ever-growing list of flavored teas Gluten-Free, or Contains Gluten.
Even more, I have a fantasy of a totally gluten-free tea shop, complete with all gluten-free pastries. Oh, that would be heaven!
CurtissAnn is the author of over forty books and short stories. Check out her site, CurtissAnnMatlock.com, to learn more!
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