Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Sore Throat

In my last post, I took the opportunity of having both a willingness to write and the time to do so to slam the product of one of my employers' new teas for containing food additives like maltodextrin, which those who know me know was neither an especially gutsy move (by my usual standards) nor a move that was long in coming. The potential risk, knowing that the only member of that company's staff who has the address to this blog or the inclination to investigate my online habits, was very low, as was the potential gain. While that person did suggest that I make a retraction, I think that the reaction of a few clients in person to the ingredient listing is justification enough of the argument myself, and so it stands.

The point isn't that we're now marketing teas with synthetically-derived sugars and sodium-free salts (such as calcium chloride); I eat such products fairly regularly under the guise of soft drinks, fast food, and even in some middle-run restaurants. The point of contention is that we're doing so without dropping our usual reliance on the "tea benefits" (always careful to avoid sounding like medical advice), benefits which might not be undermined by the presence of artificial sugars but should certainly have them taken into account.

It seems to me to be a variation of the marketing for homeopathy at this point. While I do not deny that heavy consumption of various teas has specific health benefits to the drinker, there are other questions to be asked, which often include "so, what else is in your tea?". Just as homeopathic medicines are often in solutions so weak it is probable that no amount of the indicated "cure" is present in the given dosage, your tea, no matter the grade, is not going to do you that much good if it is primarily a vehicle for the delivery of milk and sugar.

Does that mean I never take sugar in my teas? No, but I have never stood upon the teas I usually sweeten as barriers against anything but acute dehydration (in the worst case) or as anything more than a palate-stimulant (in the best case). While I have always placed some small credit on herbalist cures for minor ailments and as treatment of specific symptoms, I have also remembered that one of the best treatments for inflammation is Asprin, which is itself derived from willow-bark, with the active ingredient in higher concentration. 

While I find a cup of herbal tea often enough to soothe whatever problem I am having, the herbals I lean on are always the ones with the greatest concentration of the ingredient I actually want. Today I am feeling headachey. I have a sore throat from sleeping with my mouth open and I am heavily congested. A bad habit of swallowing a certain amount of the product of my presently over-active sinus is leaving me feeling slightly nauseous.

I therefore want, primarily, two things: ginger, and lemon. Ginger is noted in cases of both nausea and congestion as a mild expectorant and a means of settling the stomach. It is of such utility that even people who stand against the concept of natural remedies accept ginger tea with a bit of lemon as a way to stave off a forming cold, which is what I probably have. Lemon is itself noted in the culinary world for cutting grease (which is the reason deep-fried or breaded foods are often better with a squeeze of it) and this affect, I find, works on mucous as well.

I do, however, find ginger and lemon exceedingly boring in the strengths at which it can be infused - a lemon-ginger sauce would be another story - and so I have chosen to use it as an additive for a green tea. The green I chosen, I am told, has anti-inflamitory properties.

Yesterday, I could drink enough of this tea, regularly enough, to stave off the effects of my cold and feel relatively productive, if not downright okay with the way my life was going. Today, however, I am feeling somewhat more ill. I am instead drinking a heavily-spiced tea with lots of cinnamon and cloves (Teavana's Mahraja Chai Oolong) and leaving the treatment of my symptoms up to the judicious use of Strepsils and chemical decongestants.

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