Health benefits

I’m ready to kill somebody if I see another tea website with a big section on “health benefits of tea” and why you should drink more tea.  I saw a blog post today (to which I will not link — sorry, I really have no desire to link to such rubbish) that has the title “Infusing tea could cream HIV”, makes suggestive comments about how drinking more tea is good for you, and then linked to this article.  If you read the whole thing… in fact, if you read the first two paragraphs, you’ll see that this is all about how EGCG, the polyphenol that we’ve all heard about, can aid in blocking HIV infections through vaginal intercourse from the semen to the woman’s cell.  Adding EGCG to a vaginal GEL or something similar may help slow HIV infections.  That is, of course, great news, if it works.

Except that it has NOTHING whatsoever to do with DRINKING tea.  Sorry for all the cap letters, but I’m annoyed.  Pretty soon we’re going to be hearing that drinking tea raises the dead, cures cancer, solves global warming, and lead to everlasting world peace.  The fact is that this study, from the excerpt provided in that little WebMD article anyway, has nothing to do with EGCG in your body and everything to do with EGCG acting as a chemical that helps destroy a compound that makes HIV more effective in infecting cells.  So please, stop trying to sell tea because it provides health benefits.  We drink it because it tastes great, because it’s interesting, because it’s a good conveyer of caffeine.  Sure, some people drink it for health benefits, and that’s fine.  But surely, you must be able to sell tea, good tea anyway, without having to resort to “this is good for you” and “drink this and it will make you live longer”?  Or maybe, the tea you’re selling is so terrible (or terribly overpriced), that’s the only way to sell it.  If that’s the case, I’m sorry.


Comments

Health benefits — 10 Comments

  1. I wholeheartedly agree.

    I also believe it is illegal according to American law to make claims about health benefits of any products for marketing purposes unless these claims have been verified by the FDA.

    I am often severely tempted to write to the FDA and ask that materials like these be removed from certain vendor websites, but it does seem like an underhand manoeuvre.

  2. Yeah, maybe you can start mixing tea powder in some lubricant.

    I do wonder if this is allowed under FDA regulations, but I thought all you have to do is put a disclaimer somewhere saying this is not approved by FDA, just like those herbal pills… and you’re ok, liability wise.

  3. I think though that some mornings, tea does “raise the dead.” At Irish funerals, they “raise a cup to me.” The Irish are, of course, inveterate tea drinkers but perhaps they speak of stiffer stuff when raising the cup. Great post. eileen

  4. I have some “tea needles” sharp enough for you to commit the killing… joking! Did I mention those “GREEN TEA tablet” ad on TV recently? Anything profit driven is a move to non-truth. The fine line is difficult to draw, though, when we are in favor of tea…

  5. A very good point, MarshalN.

    What further boggles me is the fact that Americans (of which I am one, unfortunately) love green tea. In fact, they take their love of tea far further than most countries do by brushing their teeth with it, washing with it, cleaning with it, burning it… they just don’t drink it.

    The majority of friends I have shared a cup of fine [i.e. expensive] gyukuro with affectionately refer to it as dirt water right before pulling out green tea lip balm and opening a soft drink.

    Madness.

    -Tyler

  6. I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t think it’s impossible that drinking tea (generally speaking) may have some health benefits. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, tea was originally used medicinally before it was consumed as a beverage. And I don’t think there’s any argument that (in a general sense) tea has some effect on the body’s metabolism, affecting digestion, possibly appetite, etc. Even some of the early research about tea reducing cholesterol seems to be promising, but who knows.

    To me, none of these things are, in and of themselves, reasons to drink tea. If I happen to get some sort of benefit, so much the better, but it’s not my reason for drinking tea, and it’s not really a reason I’d encourage someone else to drink tea. I do find it very problematic when vendors make (usually very exaggerated) health claims in an effort to sell tea.

    The unfortunate thing is that I think a lot of the hype is market driven; i.e., even if a vendor is NOT making any health claims about their tea, customers (at least in the US) invariably start asking which tea will help them lose weight or lower their cholesterol (preferably without any caffeine, of course). Some unscrupulous vendors are always going to try and capitalize on that. Americans always want a quick-fix that involves as little effort on their part as possible. Even vendors who don’t engage in this kind of hype are under a lot of pressure from customers who visit their shops to explain the health benefits of their products. A vendor in Seattle, who shall remain nameless, told me a hilarious story about someone who came in to buy some “wu long” tea. She refused to believe it when the vendor explained that “oolong” tea was the same thing.

    A few months ago, I responded to a request for someone to do a presentation on tea. As it turned out, the presentation was for a group that focuses on alternative medicine, and the organizers wanted someone to speak about tea’s health benefits. I basically told them exactly what you said above, and said I didn’t feel comfortable talking about tea in that light. I did end up helping a friend, who did agree to give a presentation. Thankfully, the presentation didn’t really focus on the subject, and the subject didn’t even come up during questions, so hopefully they got the point.

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