From what I understand, "hot drinks" in Doctrine and Covenants 89:9 has been interpreted specifically to be coffee and tea. I have heard and read from other LDS members that believed that "tea" refers to "Black Tea" simply because the "hot drinks" of Joseph Smiths day were in fact coffee and Black Tea. Herbal teas have been deemed permissible. I have spoken to a few LDS who were under the assumption that Green Tea is classified as an herbal tea and that drinking it does not violate the Word of Wisdom.
A fact that some may not be aware of is that Green Tea is produced from the Camellia Sinensis, which is the same plant that Black Tea is produced from. White Tea and Oolong Tea are also products of this plant. The difference from one Camellia Sinensis tea to another is dependant upon how the leaves are processed. Although each come from the same plant, they are not the same product.
My question is this: Should we avoid Camellia Sinensis altogether or only the Black Tea that is produced from it? I am not aware of any statement from a General Authority on this issue. I am curious if anyone else could shed some light on this.
Another topic in question is Green Tea Extract. I have done a limited amount of research on this product. As I understand it, there are various methods of obtaining the extract. Would certain extracts be a permissible way of consuming the antioxidants, vitamins and obtaining other health benefits associated with Green Tea (some use it as a weight loss supplement)?
On a BYU website, the Word of Wisdom is defined as follows:
word of wisdom - a name given to Joseph Smith’s revelation on health, contained in D & C 89. Past and present prophets of the church have clearly stated that the following are proscribed by this revelation: alcohol, tobacco, coffee, black tea, and illegal drugs. Following the word of wisdom is a requirement for obtaining a temple recommend as well as for being baptized.
A few other of many sources defining "tea" as "Black Tea":
Teas | Times & Seasons, An Onymous Mormon Blog
LDS FAQ: Fulfilled Prophecies of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet
The Freelance Observer: Breaking Rules or Breaking Babies: LDS vs. FLDS Mormon Church
As of yet, I have not read any official statement from a prophet defining "tea" as "Black Tea" but it is obvious that many members have interpreted it to be so under the fact that "Black Tea" was the tea of Joseph Smith's era and herbal teas are ok.
I have also found a quote from Victor L. Ludlow, a BYU religion professor who states:
“The Word of Wisdom counsels against drinking “hot drinks,” which have been identified by early Church leaders as coffee and tea. “Tea” refers to the standard tea derived from the tea plant, sometimes called black tea or green tea. The Word of Wisdom has not been interpreted as proscribing herbal teas, stating that “all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man (D&C 89:10)” (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel, p.434).
As it seems, there is some confusion among LDS members regarding this matter. This was what inspired me to post this blog.
I have been curious of the health benefits associated with Green Tea Extract but have decided to avoid it simply because it is produced from Camellia Sinensis. Until an official statement is made, I feel that tea is tea if it comes from the "tea plant". I am intersted in any facts, quotes, opinions, etc. on this subject.
Edited by ChristopherMills, 22 May 2009 - 09:19 PM.