A Treatise on Foreign Teas

If you scan the articles published at this site you’ll notice that a number of them deal with the potential health benefits to be gained from drinking tea. There are quite a few of these and it seems that there are new findings being released everyday.

But what about the dark side of tea drinking? Well, to be honest, there isn’t much of a dark side to drinking tea, assuming that you don’t consume it in ridiculous quantities (guilty). Iced black tea, in particular, may increase the incidence of kidney stones in people who are prone to them and the caffeine in tea is no good for people who are sensitive to it, but the pro side of the tea drinking equation tends to overshadow the cons.

But it wasn’t always thus – or, more correctly, there was once a perception that tea was not so good for you. For evidence of this, you can refer to A Treatise on Foreign Teas, by Hugh Smith, which is available in electronic versions at Project Gutenberg and various other sites. While it’s not completely clear when Smith penned this work, given that he died in 1789, it’s obviously been a while.

Beware of Tea

A word of warning to anyone planning to embark on a reading of this work. It’s not exactly what you call beach reading, but the dense and convoluted prose, with paragraph breaks in short supply, could actually be useful in helping you get to sleep after you’ve had too many cups of tea.

The focus of the book, as Smith puts it, “is designed to shew, by the most forcible Arguments and distinguished Authorities, the extreme Danger to which the Public are exposed from the continual Use of an Article so pernicious and destructive to the Constitution.” This sort of thing was not a totally unknown sentiment in the early days of tea drinking in Europe, when the beverage was still a relatively unknown quality.

The author goes on to expand upon this theme, in rather numbing and detailed fashion, but before long it becomes obvious that he has an ulterior motive in denouncing tea, otherwise known as a “Species of Slow Poison.” As it turns out Smith is quite keen to sing the praises of an allegedly wondrous and somewhat mysterious elixir known as Dr. Solander’s Tea, which he praises, in no uncertain terms, as “the most proper morning and afternoon’s beverage.”

For more details, be sure to check out the book – if you dare.

Make sure to stop by William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks, and pay him a visit!

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