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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 14, 2005


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2005;294(22):2920. doi:10.1001/jama.294.22.2920-b

Considerable has been said of late in some English publications, and extensively quoted in this country, about the evil effects of teas drinking in causing physical degeneracy. We have always with us some dietetic reformers who put the ban on tea as well as on the more harmful stimulants. THE JOURNAL has already expressed itself on this subject, but in view of the above facts a word more may not be amiss. There is a possibility that the decoction of tea leaves improperly made may be injurious to certain organizations, but that a mild tea infusion of sufficient strength to give all its needed exhilarating effects is harmful we can not believe, and certainly not if it is used in due moderation. Excessive tea drinking, like excessive bread eating, is not to be commended; excess in anything is necessarily injurious. There may also be certain conditions of the system, generally morbid ones, in which the taking in of any considerable amount of the chemical substances contained in tea is harmful, but such are not the conditions of the average individual. As counter to this we may mention the sanitary advantages of the germicidal effect of boiling the drink, which wards off more sickness that it could by any possibility produce. It is this which make habitable the germ-saturated soil of China, and the degenerating effects on the very virile but exclusively tea-drinking population are not very manifest. There are few, if any, more innocent and attractive flavorings possible for hot drinks than that of the tea leaf. Reformers also should bear in mind the fact that in condemning such innocent drinks as tea they are furnishing, in a way, ammunition for the advocates of less innocent ones, who are always ready to utilize any side arguments that are afforded them. Tea, like many other useful things, may not be a valuable element in an infant's diet, and is liable, like every other good thing, to be abused, but it has few objectionable qualities and may be counted as one of the things adding to the material happiness of life.

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