The Green Tea Question

April 9, 2011

We occasionally get the following question:

Is green tea against the word of wisdom?

A simple yes or no question, right? Here are a couple more in the same vein:

Do you have a statement that has been issued by the First Presidency regarding the usage of decaffeinated green tea either as a drink or in a vitamin formula.

I’m a little confused about Green Tea. Some members say they avoid it as it is breaking the Word of Wisdom. Yet others say it is totally fine, a much healthier alternative to soda. I’ve seen other members drinking those popular tall green cans, including my bishop. I’ve wanted to ask him about it, but didn’t really want to put him on the spot. I found this site and thought it a perfect opportunity to ask. What do you think?

Because this website is devoted to answering questions posed primarily by non-latter-day saints, we’ve generally kept ourselves out of debates that take place within the Church. For one thing, if it’s an unsettled issue among Mormons, that usually means there isn’t a definitive answer. We also strive to represent ourselves as “typical” Mormons, which means when we pick a side on some issue, we might be misrepresenting faithful Mormons who believe differently.

Since this is a persistent question and it pertains to the requirements for baptism, I’ll do my best to clear out some of the weeds surrounding this issue, but keep in mind that the truly “perfect opportunity” to discuss it is, in fact, in counsel with your bishop.

Hot Drinks and the Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom refers to the dietary restrictions the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith in D&C 89. It includes a prohibition against tobacco, “strong drinks” (alcohol), and “hot drinks,” as well as recommendations for eating herbs, fruits, grains, and meat (sparingly).

Following this revelation, there was some dispute among Church members about what exactly was meant by “hot drinks.” Tea? Coffee? Soup? Eventually, in 1842 Joseph Smith’s brother and fellow Church leader Hyrum Smith gave a sermon and clarified the matter in this way: “And again ‘hot drinks are not for the body, or belly;’ there are many who wonder what this can mean; whether it refers to tea, or coffee, or not. I say it does refer to tea, and coffee.”

Modern Church leaders have not offered any more definitive interpretations on which kinds of tea might be permissible. The most recent handbook just says, “The only official interpretation of “hot drinks” (D&C 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term “hot drinks” means tea and coffee.”

This open-endedness has led Latter-day Saints to speculate about what exactly is in tea and coffee that is harmful. Is it the caffeine? The tannic acid? The high temperature? If it is the caffeine (a common speculation), then should we also shun colas, energy drinks, and chocolate? Is decaf okay?

The First Presidency gave a statement on cola in 1973, “With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.”

Why it Matters

Latter-day Saints know that typically, where there is no specific direction on a given subject, we are left to our own judgment, guided by principles instead of rigid rules. This idea can be seen in the cola policy above; it’s not about setting and enforcing unyielding boundaries, but keeping ourselves un-addicted and healthy.

This would normally be a non-issue, then. Each member has access to personal revelation through the gift of the Holy Ghost and to scriptural principles that would guide them to a self-imposed standard that may legitimately vary from person to person.

But tea is not an entirely personal decision. In preparing to be baptized or to enter the temple, a priesthood leader interviews you for worthiness. One of the questions is about your understanding of the Word of Wisdom and whether you are living by it. A wrong answer could keep you from baptism or temple worship or perhaps make a liar out of you. Additionally, depending on your location, green tea may be a huge part of your culture and a cherished tradition. Abstaining could have significant ramifications on personal and business relationships. It is a pivotal decision for some, and wondering about green tea isn’t necessarily just “straining at a gnat,” as those who dismiss the question might uncharitably assume.

Our task, then, is to discover for ourselves a personal rubric for tea-selection, which must be in line with Church guidelines (note: there maybe more than one rubric that is acceptable, there are definitely many that are unacceptable, and we are not charged with creating a rubric for all members). Developing our rubric involves getting educated: learn what makes tea tea, read this article, study other relevant materials. It also involves searching for eternal principles upon which to build your decision, which can be found in scriptures and conference talks and in personal prayer.

The Practice

In the absence of authoritative direction, I thought I would try to see what Latter-day Saints actually do and learn about their guiding motivations for their tea selections. I created a survey, and asked a sample of 86 people who ran across this site or who are my friends on Facebook to take it (we can therefore extrapolate these findings to the general population of people who frequent this site or who are my friends on Facebook).

I listed as many different kinds of tea as I could think of (with the help of Wikipedia). Here are a few of the statistics. The following were asked of latter-day saints:

The first chart shows those teas that Church members believe to be prohibited for temple worthiness, the second chart shows teas that are believed to be expressly permitted. The clear front-runners to avoid are black, green, and iced teas, while peppermint and chamomile rank pretty high on the allowed list. The lesser-known ones (white, oolong, masala chai, yerba maté, rooibos) were a mixed bag, probably just because they are less familiar. Many surveyees added the write-in candidate “herbal tea” as a permitted type, which actually includes peppermint and chamomile (I couldn’t include all herbal teas in my list because there are infinitely many).

Exactly half of the members I surveyed were returned full-time proselyting missionaries. Missionaries have the unique responsibility of ushering converts into the church and they probably deal with this question of tea-types more regularly than any bishop or stake president. I asked them which types of tea they taught their converts they needed to avoid and which were allowed:

Basically, the same trends as before, but these answers look a little more confident.

Next, I asked how much allure tea had for them:

This is the sentiment that (in my experience) most Mormons have about tea. They just don’t give it much thought. It isn’t on their radar.

I also asked the ten non-Mormons who took the quiz a few questions. The sample size isn’t large enough to draw many conclusions, but I’ll post the results here for your interest.

I also asked members what their guiding philosophy was for selecting the tea that they did. This is where the real insight came. Since this was an essay question, I extracted the basic gist of their reason and categorized them into the following groups:

One thing you might notice from this is that the first two categories (made from the tea leaf and herbal tea) essentially draw the same line in the sand. Of the teas I listed in my survey, black, green, white, oolong, and iced teas are made with the leaf of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). All the rest are “herbal teas,” according to Wikipedia’s (somewhat limey) definition: “A herbal teatisane, or ptisan is a herbal or plant infusion and usually not made from the leaves of the tea bush. Typically, herbal tea is simply the combination of boiling water and dried fruits, flowers or herbs.”

I got a lot of good, thoughtful responses for this question. I’ll provide a few of them here.

Jethro: “I am not very critical about it, I guess. I generally stay away from hot teas, and ice teas unless they are prepared by a trusted (usually Mormon) lady, who usually accompanies the tea with some kind of reassuring “here, this will make you feel better”.”

Steve: “I just don’t drink tea.  I even avoid wearing tea-shirts.
“I did some searching on for green tea and I only found one article from 1985ish.  It was a story of some missionaries in Japan looking for an apartment to rent.  Spoiler Alert:  They found one.”

Anonymous: “I was told once by someone or other that tea is only forbidden if it’s made with tea leaves; herbal teas and the like are fine. However, this came from a layperson, not from anyone in authority, and trying to pinpoint the forbidden ingredient in tea seems rather like the stance some people take that because coffee has caffeine, caffeine must be forbidden in all its forms. It’s entirely possible that this is true, of course, but the fact is that we simply don’t know. So for me, I drink herbal tea very occasionally when someone else is offering it, when it’s an innocuous-seeming variety like blueberry, and when it would be rude to refuse, but that’s all. My refusal is made easier by the fact that I do not like the taste of any tea I have tried.
“From what I have seen of other people’s tea drinking habits, I’d say a fair number also draw the line between herbal tea and tea tea. I don’t think that any type of tea has been explicitly allowed.”

Orpha: “It must be an herbal ‘tea,’ (which is not actually a tea), which means it will be caffeine-FREE, ingredients clearly listed. I drink herbal tea occasionally, sometimes in spurts, but especially to soothe a sore throat, help clear congestion, or to help me warm up after being outside in the cold.”

Nefi: “If the tea is herbal it is ok.  ‘Herbal’ means if it has a cute teddy bear in pajamas and it says something like ‘sleepy time’ on the box then it is ok. If I have not heard of the name or it sounds oriental with kanji on the box and no cute pictures then it is not ok.”

Willie: “I can’t claim to know which sort of tea is acceptable or not according to the standards.  I have never read the standards.
“As for me, I just stay away from all teas and then I’m sure that I’ll be just fine.  I’ve been healthy enough this far into my life that drinking tea for any ‘health benefits’ isn’t going to sell me on it either.”

Andrew: “I try to follow the promptings of the Spirit. If the tea makes me feel uncomfortable, then I don’t drink it. When I was in Japan I drank a tea that a member said was okay to drink and it felt wrong to me. I took a look at the ingredients and one of them was Green Tea powder, so I stopped drinking it. Following the Spirit has always served me well.”

It was interesting to see the variety of opinions on this, as well as the emergent themes. None of these opinions are authoritative, and they each spoke only for the bar they set for themselves, not what they would impose on the whole Church.

I can’t draw any firm conclusions from this data on how to construct your rubric. As one respondent put it, “popular opinion does not a standard make.” Still, I think it is a good idea to take inventory of this issue once in awhile, and it would be good to use the data in drawing your own personal conclusions.

The Principles

As I mentioned earlier, in the absence of specific proscriptions, we must learn all we can about the issue and be guided by principles instead of governed by rules. Here is a short list of some principles to keep in mind when selecting which teas to avoid and which to accept:

  • Avoid addiction. This isn’t just a good idea, it’s fundamental to the purpose of life. We cannot hope to overcome the tests of life if we have already sacrificed our free will to some unholy Mammon. Bear in mind also, that the addict rarely recognizes his own addiction.
  • Health. This is one of the promised blessings for those who obey the Word of Wisdom, and as I quoted the First Presidency saying earlier, “Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.”
  • Covenant. Another of the blessings promised is that the “destroying angel will pass by them and not slay them” (D&C 89:21). This is a reference to the first passover in Egypt when the Israelites publicly displayed their covenant status and their faith in Jehovah by painting their door posts with lambs’ blood; then the destroyer “passed over” them (Exodus 12:23). Maybe, like painting your house with blood, certain tea restrictions don’t make intuitive sense. And maybe there is something grander at work here.
  • Obedience. The Lord is more interested in seeing our willingness to follow Him than in seeing how smart we think we are (2 Nephi 9:28-29).
  • Sustaining local leaders. If you are concerned about where to draw the line, talk to your bishop about it at your next temple recommend interview. He is a judge in Israel and his judgment is authoritative. Follow his counsel.
  • Unity in Zion. Be careful making yourself the exception. Remember that there are thousands of Japanese converts who took a leap of faith by abandoning a cherished cultural practice (and identity) to qualify for baptism. “For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things” (D&C 78:6).
  • Personal revelation. If you have been baptized and confirmed, you have the gift of the Holy Ghost who “shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26). Live up to your privilege and ask for revelation!

The great thing about principles is that they are widely applicable! This means you can also use these and other principles to help you in deciding what kinds of restaurants to eat at, clothing to wear, whom to vote for, and what to do with your free time. The Lord has withheld specifying rules in many cases so that we can learn to identify and adopt principles, thus becoming our own governors — becoming free. It also helps us draw closer to Him in prayer, knowing we need His personal guidance; we can’t just flip open the code book and have every eventuality spelled out for us.

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96 Responses to “The Green Tea Question”

  1. Bob

    I was in the process of writing a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune when I wanted to confirm my impression that green tea is forbidden to LDS (myself not being LDS). The general opinion I see in the comments and in the survey in the original article is a pretty clear “yes, it is forbidden”. The reasoning seems to be of two types: 1) avoid what’s bad for us, and 2) trust, obey, and uphold church authorities. Now, green tea has been consumed for thousands of years in vast quantities by literally billions of people. All the known evidence says that not only is it not harmful, but is beneficial to both mental and physical health (and it’s hard to see how there could be much more evidence than there already is, apart from studying its individual constituents, as is in fact being done). So, the prohibition would seem to be based only on the second type of reason: to trust, obey, and uphold. But, given agency, is that a good enough reason to forgo the evident benefits?

    Abraham generally is admired for his obedience in obeying God’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac. When at the last second it was clear that Abraham was going through with it and had passed the test, God stopped him. But there is another interpretation of this story that rings true to me. The test was of Abraham’s own agency and compass, a test he failed by being willing to commit an act that was manifestly horrific. God stopped him to prevent that act.

    In light of the recent explanation from the LDS church that the exclusion of blacks from the priesthood was a result of racism rather than revelation, and that church leaders are indeed fallible, what is the best basis of choice: 1) what seems clearly right to oneself after careful consideration of facts of benefits and harms, or 2) obedience contrary to one’s own judgment?

    And I must add, the explanation about blacks is among the most courageous and remarkable things I have seen come out of the hierarchy, truly commendable because they did not have to do it. It has the potential, I think, to shift LDS views about the responsibility and authority for moral judgment more toward individual members (the true locus of agency) and less toward church officers (where, it seems to me, the current emphasis is). Time will tell, but that would be a massive change.

    Considering the sizable minority of rank and file LDS favor gay civil marriage (temple marriage – I haven’t seen any polls about that), based on the most fundamental and eternal command – to love – and their own best judgment based on what they themselves have experienced about the reality of love between two people of whatever gender, and the fact that the shift in views is generational… Well, the direction of history is clear, it bends toward justice (from the bottom up, when necessary), even in highly institutional, authority-based religions, where change is slow and hard.

    I’m not going to say anything about green tea in my letter to the Trib.

  2. Adam Gale

    The Church will never recognize gay marriage. To do so would actually be contrary to God’s word. Sizable minority? Less than 1 percent of LDS members support gay marriage, if that is sizable, then so be it.

    The Church bends towards morality, not justice. There is nothing moral or right about same sex marriage.

    As far as those saying that we should open the barn door so the tractor can get out, yeah, except when you do that, you let the tires out of the tractor, ie, you abandon the principles and commandments you have covenanted to keep sacred.

    “False prophets and false teachers are also those who attempt to change the God-given and scripturally based doctrines that protect the sanctity of marriage, the divine nature of the family, and the essential doctrine of personal morality. They advocate a redefinition of morality to justify fornication, adultery, and homosexual relationships. Some openly champion the legalization of so-called same-gender marriages. To justify their rejection of God’s immutable laws that protect the family, these false prophets and false teachers even attack the inspired proclamation on the family issued to the world in 1995 by the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.”
    -M. Russell Ballard-

    With gay marriage, and green tea, members will try to justify their rejection of God’s immutable laws by saying it’s an agency issue, rather than a morality and obedience issue.

  3. Rich Henkle

    To Adam Gale,

    Thank you very much for writing regarding the folly of so called same sex marriage. I am glad for what Elder Ballard has said and glad that we are publishing that to the world and reaffirming it.
    Thanks for sending that section.


    —-Apart from that.

    Dear Brothers and Cisterns,

    Come on. Come the farking hail on and stop being dumm IceHoles. This very, Ridiculous attitude, is what I am talking about! People, Utahns, wherever you are that come up with this stuff–Don’t even try to compare the use of Tea, Green Tea, Coffee, Coffee Ice Cream, Iced Tea, or HOT SOUP to the sins of the extreme of the folly and falsehood of same sex “marriage”. Dear golly you get swept into comparing the vile with insignificant. You have to be kidding me! Where do you BYU kids come up with this horse malarkey??? I don’t give a flying leap what Hyrum said in 1842 about coffee and tea; he likely was so doggone tired of being bothered about it he had to come up with some kind of answer to satisfy the fearful fanatics! There was no need. Just read the scripture there. This is NOT ancient Hebrew, nor scripture that was written to deceive and confuse mankind. It is super simple. Go back and re-read the 89th Section over and over again and cross reference it. Then you can stop overkilling animals and stop stuffing your bellies and colons of excessive Meat! But I have seen so many born mormons who are walking meat processors it’s nuts.

    Stop fretting and bothering over all of these little, minor, trivial matters like Coffee and Tea. Abstain from it as much as possible, but if so, start doing the same with all the Trash that most ALL of you are pouring down your fellow church member gullets. Even the Prophets of old have written that They did not know all things! So why bother them, or the Lord over such matters.

    That is the kind of thing the Lord despises. He does not like it when man must wait to be commanded in all things and cannot use his own brain. I assure you that the coffee plant has many good uses and SAVES THE LIVES OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS AND MANY TENS OF THOUSANDS MORE WORLDWIDE EVERY SINGLE DAY. So start getting your hearts and minds straight. Use your God Given Brain and stop being a mindless following blather of a people. The Lord does not need nor want such kinds of brain sleepy followers. He wants people who can READ, figure out what is there, Live the most important commandments, have strong influence from the holy spirit and be a SELF REGULATING person who does not engage in serious sin and is COMPASSIONATE and loving to ALL. Our sin of incompassion in this church is heavy. We need Help. We need to repent on the matter. We are pitiful in our support of the disabled and the truly poor. Stating how LAX we are as a people in those areas is almost unheard of–yet we folly in wasted effort on Coffee and Tea. We hear little to nothing about our weakness in this.

    And I do mean LAX. Truly LAX. We are as a people and church.

    Now to address the awful inclusion of the mention of an abomination like same sex marriage and worries over coffee or tea in the same sentence of discussion…Well, First of all, there is no such thing as marriage for those of the same sex. It’s only a creation of people’s minds and a paper trail. Marriage is ONLY given and ordained by God. Man and governments copied it since that time.

    As for Tea. My writings about Tea are to emphasize quite strongly that our church is patting itself on the back far too often and firmly. We have severe problems of adulteries, fornications, divorce setups and arrangements right within wards. It is sickening. The fact that we even put Tea on the same PLANET OF DISCUSSION when we have so many other constant serious sins I have and am witnessing that ARE taking place and that are NOT being repented of and NOT being corrected even by church leaders is a travesty.

    You all can keep worrying all you want about green tea and cold coffee, or Milk with a touch of coffee as I know it. However 2 of my Veteran’s Administration doctors, knowing of my brain injuries and danger on the road PRESCRIBE it to me. They KNOW I am LDS and they know many LDS and in my case they ordered me to do it or have my license taken away.

    SO PISS OFF YOU STUPID FANATICS WHO WOULD RATHER WITNESS ADULTERIES WITHIN THE WARD AND DO JACK–Nothing–but shake in your bones over some green or other tea or 2 cups of prescribed coffee.

    Cold at that! I do my very best. Work hard to keep it all from being hot.

    The Lord is looking at all this and probably remarking: Didn’t I give Joseph words that focus upon Evil, designing men, Alcohol and Tobacco. Who are the evil impoverished coffee and tea growers in our 3rd world? Where are those coffee growers and poor bean processors who are trying to control and take over the world and destroy people? IT ISN’T HAPPENING!!!!!!!!!!
    Wanna know an evil company ruining people’s health? Look no further than diabetes causing, teeth falling out, Coke and DIET Coke that 2 out of 3 LDS women I know are downright addicted to! And, I kid not whatsoever. 2 out of 3. Wasting money on that trash like it’s going out of style. Cokes, Pepsi’s, Dr. Pepper, and every style of Diet drink that fizzes away that tooth enamel.

    17 months of hospitals after the war medevac. 33 months and extensive physical brain treatments over 22 years. PRESCRIPTION, 2 cups of coffee before driving. Daily well brushed teeth. I tell the Bishop, but I don’t need his permission, nor any of your’s, and it isn’t about free agency! It is about staying ALIVE, and keeping you and your loved ones ALIVE on the road. Soooooooooo,

    KISS MY ASS. And wake up and stop punishing good people in China and all over the world who drink a little purified Tea with their meals instead of Cess Pool impure water. Wake the hell up!
    Coffee and a wee bit of Tea might help you do that. Explanations of these matters to the brethren who must be able to see the inflexibility of not advising thought, prayer and moderation is proper.

    You are all looking beyond the mark. We have all taught beyond the mark regarding Coffee and Tea and it is Ridiculous.

    STOP committing fornications and adulteries and then I’ll work with you on getting rid of dangerous drinks. I’ll start with Alcohol, then go to “soft” drinks. Let your Teeth fall out in the meantime from all that caramel color, phosphoric acid, and you name it. At least with my glass of milk with coffee…my neighbors get to joke that I’m “Mormon Legal”. And all of them have interest in the church because of their relationship with me.

    They won’t attend though because of those local members they know who break those other REAL commandments I spoke of and haven’t missed a heartbeat of church attendance. It is true, and they have witnessed it happen. Abstinence from coffee and tea won’t be saving them! What those hypocrites have done is severe enough to have pushed many in a certain area out of the church, and cause others who were considering it to stop considering the church.

    Focus on the REAL commandments and get our LDS heads out of our asches over coffee and tea. “Cool it” on that matter. Don’t add any sugar! Why Otherwise, then you’ll have Coke, the Artifical coffee! OH DEAR. Stay Natural!

    Kona, Colombian, or Guatemalan, hahahahaha. See you on the other side for certain!


    Richard Henkle
    [email protected]

  4. Russell

    Thaddeus, I know it’s been a while since you wrote this, but thanks anyway. I’m moving to Japan and was curious about how to handle situations where I might be offered green tea.

    The article helped me focus my thoughts for further contemplation and the comments gave me a good chuckle.

  5. Debra Crowder

    Well said Rich Hinkle! I was beginning to wonder if LDS members have lost all common sense.
    We as members have been blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost and should spend more time listening to the still small voice than obsessing over what to drink. I bet the General Authorities get bombarded daily with things we should be asking from The Lord.. And how can we be truly loving one another if we are so wrapped up in striving to obey the letter of the law? Our focus should be more on charity and the love of Christ.

  6. Kate

    I know I’m coming to the party a little late but I’d like to share my experience regarding tea.
    I have chronic arthritic pain, blood sugar swings and horrible migraines. I also have back pain and neuropathy of the leg. When I wasn’t a member I drank green and white teas a couple times a day, and most of my joint swelling went away. When I came back to the church, I stopped. My pain became significantly worse, and I had a harder time concentrating for long periods of time (migraines make everything fuzzy). After significant thought, prayer and finally discussions with my husband, my father in law (who was serving in the stake presidency) and my bishop, I made the decision to start drinking tea again. I don’t drink black or grey because those teas use fermented tea leaves, but I do drink green, white, rooibus and other herbals. My pain and swelling is decreased and my immune system functions better. You need to make this kind of decision between you and the Lord. All of my local priesthood authority told me the same thing (but surprisingly said it in a very nonjudgmental way). Two of them even said that green/white tea were not specifically mentioned in the handbook and that, outside of Utah/US, they don’t always encourage members to give those up. I am ok with my decision. I much prefer the small amount of caffeine in a green tea drink than what is given in Excedrin, Pamprin or soda. And the health benefits make my quality of life significantly higher.
    Just some food for thought.

  7. Richard Henkle

    I strongly agree with Kate’s comments. Lesser types of tea are used in many lands and nations. These are usually referred to as agua aromatica, herbal teas and tinctures, and shai teas. Chinese traditional tea is one of these, green tea and so on.

    We focus so much on the bad aspects of harder fermented teas that we miss out on the good aspects of so many normal teas, some of which are little more than leaves of quality grasses heated and leeched. My feeling is that as long as you are not drinking any of these hot or too hot, there isn’t any damage going on to your esophagus…and certainly not to your spirit.

    Clear to me is the dividing line between using tea and coffee as a heavy stimulant to go beyond our proper endurance; and using these plants for their medicinal purposes. As much time as I lived in the Middle East, I feel fairly confident that Jesus drank some tea, so chill.

    We have a lot more to worry about like the slap on the wrist so many are getting for adulteries…with members…marrying the persons in question right in the church and breaking up their original families. I have seen this so many times now that it sickens me and breaks my heart to know that we waste our time on coffee and tea, yet we rubber stamp affairs and marry the same, destroying families right within our wards as long as the offenders keep on attending and paying their tithes and offerings.

    We need to be better than Baptist Mormons. Confession and some kind of discipline is in order…yet I see little…over and over again and I have example after example.

    Still we waste our breath on Coffee and Tea. It appalls me. I know too many effected from these other tragedies. Salt Lake has much more to address than the time waste on this matter of coffee and tea. It makes a lot of good members like me just want to walk as we see nothing done regarding such serious cases over and over. Pitiful.

  8. John

    Thank you for your post Kate,

    I’m sorry to hear of your condition and hope things continue to improve. In my opinion you have shown an excellent example of the proper steps to take to receive revelation for our own personal needs. You also bring up a good point, I remember on my mission in Brazil we taught that as far a tea was concerned, only black tea was prohibited. (I don’t recall a ‘grey’ tea being available) When we were offered coffee or black tea as a refreshment by non members, we would even suggest green or white tea instead. Also when interviewing for baptism, (questions we had to basically read word for word from a church published manual) black tea was specifically named along with coffee, alcoholic drinks etc. Additionally we drank a lot of soft drinks since much of the water there was unsafe, and yes, Coke was allowed by our Mission President. While I am not advocating that any of these drinks are good for you, I do believe that they are a personal choice, the drinking of which will not necessarily put anyone in danger of hell fire.

  9. Wendy Ballantyne

    I discussed the issue of drinking iced green tea, 8 oz 3x/day, per my physician’s written orders as he prescribe for my chronic health problems.

    I had completed all the home education lessons, read the book of Mormon and was already well educated in Christianity, both old and new Testaments of Holy Bible, and was Baptized as an infant. I had attended LDS church over 6 times and donated in a lump sum over 10% of my income to Deseret Industries in anticipation of becoming a LDS Church member.

    The missionaries have avoided making Baptismal arrangements for me, do not return phone calls, and have not showed up to home visit appointments that they made.

    Apparently following my doctor’s orders for my health and wellness makes me “unworthy” of baptism.

  10. Rex

    So we don’t have an answer.

  11. Robin Marsden

    I am just loving reading these comments! I have been a member of the church for 40 years now, and when I converted to the church I was in love with my “Constant Comment” tea and iced coffee. Giving that up was harder than anything else! But I wanted to do what I felt was right before the Lord, because the gospel meant more to me than anything in my life. I found there were a lot of other great things I could drink and I enjoy all kinds of non-caffeinated herbal teas! So far I have had good health, and I attribute so much of it to what I have gratefully learned from the Word of Wisdom. I love learning about herbs and plants. There are many health benefits from the wonderful plants that the Lord has provided for us upon this earth, yet it is good to study and learn what one can about them. I have experienced a few hard lessons, though, concerning just taking any herbs…(they can have strong medicinal properties)…Once I took kelp and lost all my nursing milk for my baby. Another time, I miscarried a baby from taking some strong herbs that I did not know were not safe for an early pregnancy. At other times, these same herbs were very helpful. In the Word of Wisdom we are told to use prudence (ie. temperance, moderation)… This last summer I tried a special herbal formula I ordered without looking at all the ingredients. All night my heart raced, so later I read the ingredients and saw green tea extract. I learned that it does have caffeine in it. I have become very sensitive to caffeine (even chocolate effects me). My husband can take it with no effects. Perhaps down the road, long term effects may be manifest from it…I do not know.. Some say there are formulas that have only the beneficial good parts of the green tea and no caffeine…I am still trying to learn more because so many members of the church are also not sure.

    Above all, we should study things out. We have been given the Holy Ghost to know for ourselves if something doesn’t feel right for us. Perhaps one needs to test his body to see how he feels and then ask the Lord. I also believe that each person has a conscience before the Lord and the Lord knows our hearts and what we are trying to do. Our love for the Lord and our desire to find healthy remedies will be resolved as we pray and feel the Lord’s spirit and direction in all we do. I know that if I chomp down brownies and ice cream and my blood sugar levels go haywire, I am crossing the line with what I know will make me feel sick, and THE LORD KNOWS THAT I KNOW better for me! Perhaps this is not so with another person. Let us be tolerant with another and cease to decide what is right for another person. There are many different interpretations of the different parts of the Word of Wisdom. The Lord means to help us not confuse us. (I personally find it is more clearer than ever as I see how our food is slowly getting corrupted…I am gaining a testimony of it and love it more and more!) Each is accountable before the Lord with his own views and the Lord understands his heart and knows his desires. Green tea or not? I personally don’t do well with it, but I will never judge another who feels it is benefiting their health. Some feel that it breaking the Word of Wisdom to drink it. That’s OK, too. It is everyone’s free agency to follow their conscience (and they MUST!) Personally if I felt doubt, I’d put obedience to the Lord first, rather than trust my own earthly wisdom (what do I know compared to Him who made me?) But if we are trying our best to improve our health, even with what limited knowledge we have, it is better than not trying. For now, until more specifications are given to us concerning green tea, especially from our church leaders, let us keep trying to gain more insight and knowledge…..usually time gives us more answers…..

    But, please let us all stop bickering! As Richard Henkle shared, there are a lot more serious problems we need to be focusing on within our wards and with others. We have much good work to do for the Lord. We should not be wasting our time trying to pick the motes out of each other’s eyes…. With all my heart I mean this. May we feel unbiased love for one other and a close, personal relationship with our Savior. We are so blessed with the gospel and we must focus on the big picture…loving people and helping them have happier, better, and good lives….healing lost souls who have had really serious trials, and bringing the light of Christ to all who hunger for it….. Let’s not worry too much about the green tea for now…..

  12. Richard Henkle

    I’m not going to give another answer to this. When your VA doctors and nurses, four on a severe treatment care panel, tell you that you WILL have 2 cups of coffee before ANY driving of a vehicle so that you do not die behind the wheel or kill anyone else due to your severe war incurred brain injuries, “regardless of whether you are mormon or not”; all of the huff and puff about coffee, tea, grean tea, and its requirement as part of the word of wisdom or a temple recommend interview goes out the window. Any other thought or statement to criticize this actual meeting and factual comment of mine is the stuff of fanaticism. Use your brains. The Lord made certain a panel of doctors told me what to do to be able to drive again and live. It isn’t an exception, it is MY rule, it shows that the substances are there for our wise use–just like medical marijuana for severe pain and seizure treatments. The Lord specified tobacco and alcohol abstention, these other substances we have become far too fanatic of a people about and need to worry about severe sins right inside of our wards and realize coffee and tea is so ridiculously minor now compared to what is going on with people and couples within the walls of our wards.

  13. Adam Gale

    All I hear is empty justifications for the rejection of God’s word. There are alternatives to taking coffee and tea, that’s what this boils down to, regardless if a physician prescribed it or not. Your war addled brain could take caffeine pills, and avoid the whole coffee issue altogether, but you CHOOSE to reject the Word of Wisdom and supplant it with your own interpretation.

    The road to apostasy isn’t one big leap, it’s tiny little steps at a time. Keep rejecting God’s word and justifying it, and you are on that road.

  14. Tyler Clawson

    Well written article, thank you Thaddeus!

  15. Mike Edwards

    It is interesting to read these posts. Some of it is disturbing-like when one member accuses another member of rejecting the word of wisdom for his own interpretation, while others say that we should be using our brain and not bothering church authorities over “trivial” issues.

    Accusing other writers of wrong-doing, especially when the accusation carry’s a self-righteous tone, does nothing to help or edify the person being attacked. The only incidence of Christ doing such a thing was when he chased the money-changers out of the temple.

    But also, admonishing others’ sincere interest in discovering an answer to the ‘green-tea’ question by suggesting that they concern themselves more with the ‘big sin” issues rather than worry about the trivial seems somehow disingenuous. If struggling with the ‘green tea’ issue is a concern of mine, then such an answer seems to be saying, “Do what you want; just don’t bother us!” I have had a bishop tell me that Green Tea is not allowed only to have a stake president tell me a week later that he knew of no restriction on green tea.

    On another note: If these kind of decisions are truly matters of following the Spirit; then what right do others have to criticize my sincere efforts to follow the Spirit?

    I understand that the Church recently clarified the caffeine issue by saying that the Word of Wisdom specifically applies to Coffee and Tea per se–and not Caffeine (but then we are encouraged to avoid anything in excess, especially if it may be harmful.)

    The curious thing for me is why, when so many seem to struggle with this issue, the Church leaders don’t issue greater comment and clarification. It would certainly seem that such would relieve us from some of the accusations and criticisms of each other that seem to result from the uncertainty.

  16. Ed

    Hmmm….I need my daily caffeine hit. I take caffeine pills and drink an occasional diet caffeniated soda. I have friends that suck down 44-100 ounces a day of soda. Can’t be healthy. I seems to me that a couple of cups of green tea would probably be the better alternative but can’t get past the ‘tea’ being in the name. Left to ponder…..

  17. Adam Gale

    All I see is people identifying themselves as Chafe, and when it comes time to separate the chafe from the wheat, we’ll see that those who adhere to God’s word and not find empty excuses to ignore it to be justified in calling those who reject God and his Prophets to repentance.

  18. John Wincek

    To Wendy Ballantyne (from March 11, 2014),

    Oh, my heart breaks. How I wish you were here in our ward! We’d love to have an investigator like you. You wouldn’t be a non-member for long! I’d do everything I could to get you baptized. You would be a blessing to any ward.

    Nobody should be judging you here and now. That is not our job.

    We should only be offering you the benefits of a gospel-centered way of life. Troublesome issues can be sorted out with the wise counsel of your bishop. Anything else you can work out through your own relationship with God, with the Holy Spirit to guide you.

    Nobody said you had to be perfect to join. That’s the point of our journey, to learn, grow, and improve. If we had to be perfect to start, who among us could join? I know I couldn’t have.

    My family (myself, my wife, and daughters) joined as a group four years ago, and life has been made infinitely better. I can’t imagine all of the things we would have missed out on, had our missionaries asked for perfection from us first. How sad that would have been.

    My advice is to try again! Surely those missionaries have been transferred and new ones are in place by now. I’m sure there are people in your ward who would welcome you with open arms. They are probably even flawed and imperfect, like the rest of us, and trying to grow and improve. I am certain that they will be happy to meet you.

  19. Blank

    Gonna be perfectly honest, Adam Gale. One day I think you are going to be looking in a mirror and wishing you had judged a little less…

  20. Brett

    One thing to ponder on: in the Portuguese version of Preach My Gospel and True to the Faith they both say to avoid “black tea” (Ice tea is black tea).

  21. Fish Jones

    If you follow the Mormon God the way Jewish people do, considering the word of wisdom to be kosher, then Green tea is terrible. Kind of like pork is terrible for Jewish people.

    If you fall the Mormon God thinking that what he does is designed to make your life perfect, you’re kind of dumb. Green tea is great for you.

  22. Jane

    How sad to read so many judgements. We are all on our own spiritual journey and what might be trivial for one person is huge for another. Some choices are left to individual interpretation with the guidance of the Holy Ghost. As I migraine sufferer, I’ve decided that a cup of green tea is less damaging to my body than popping Exedrine tablets or swilling Coke.
    I wonder how many people are addicted to sugar?

  23. Adam

    Again, with the empty justifications of your rejection of God’s Prophet and Apostles, Jane.

  24. Jane

    Again, with your passing judgement, Adam. Other than my brief comment, you know nothing about me or my life. Self-righteousness is not included in the Word of Wisdom but elsewhere in the scriptures. I suggest you read up on it.
    I refuse to get drawn into a negative debate and will therefore turn of notifications on this thread. Any further comments you choose to make to me will go to the wind.

  25. Adam

    There are those who believe and follow the words of the Prophet, and there are those who make excuses why they can’t do that. You fall into that latter portion. Burying your head in the sand, and screaming, Nuh Uh, isn’t an argument or valid point even. Self-righteousness? You mean following the scriptures, and following the Prophet are self-righteous now? I’d suggest you stop listening to whatever spirit is whispering in your ear little lady.

  26. John Wincek

    I don’t know, Adam. I think I’m with Jane on this one. What is the saying? “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.” I think it’s a good thing that Jane is a member, probably going to church regularly, and I imagine, raising a happy family, and helping lots of people through endless acts of charity. Why quibble over a minor issue? We each have our own issues and challenges to struggle with. Are you so perfect? I know I’m not. But I’m working on getting better, as no doubt, Jane is.

    This reminds me of a Young Woman who came to church in a sleeveless but otherwise modest dress. There were those who gave her trouble for her appearance. A sweet young girl, from a troubled inactive family, she was simply trying to do her best. And yet some people foolishly gave her grief–when they should have been congratulating her for being there against all odds! Isn’t it better to show her love, and teach with kindness? Soon enough, she will reach for the standards because she chooses to do so.

    We shouldn’t condemn people. Instead, we should try to understand their struggles. And congratulate them for their successes! Gently persuade, educate them with kindness, lead by example. In time they will use their agency to make their own best choices. And while they are working on themselves, we can work on ourselves to be more understanding and less judgmental. That way we can all progress together.

    There is a headline on the church website today that reads, “Free Yourself from Unrealistic Expectations of Perfection”. I think I’ll go and read it now.

  27. Adam

    John, it’s one thing to sin differently than another person. It’s an entirely different monster representing in a public forum that your sin is not only okay, but that it’s okay to disregard the Prophet’s words on this matter.

    Jesus wasn’t a gentle persuader, he in fact, whipped the sinners out of the temple. He didn’t politely ask them to leave, he didn’t form an opinion poll to see what would the best move be, he literally whipped them out of the Temple.

  28. John Wincek

    Ah, but wait, He didn’t do that all the time, did He? Jesus was angry only when it was most appropriate, most sorely needed. Was He not the gentle persuader for most of his time here?

    Is it possible to win Jane over by “casting stones” at her? She has already turned off notifications, which ends any chance to further engage. So I guess you win the battle; but did you win the war?

    That’s the trouble with blogs and message boards, isn’t it? Most disagreements turn into battles, rather than discussions. Don’t get me wrong. This has been a good discussion! It’s just too bad Jane’s not in on it anymore. I wish she hadn’t checked out so quickly.

    I’ll bet, if you guys were speaking face to face, or discussing it in class, it might have gone better.

    In the handbook (2.4.3), it tells us to exercise the priesthood by persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, sincere love, and kindness.

    I only know this because I had to offer a little handbook training in council yesterday. But it makes sense to me. I am a former coffee-loving, fallen Catholic. But my family was shown love and cared for in a time of great sadness, and as a result we all joined 4 years ago. And we have been brought along by all of the traits mentioned in section 2.4.3.

    But those traits should be directed at the old members just as much as the new ones, right? I’m not saying you’re all wrong. You make sound points, but the approach may not be all that effective.

    Given time and love, Jane may come around. (But even if she doesn’t, isn’t that between her and God?) I’m just glad she is in the church and no doubt doing good for others.

    And this is only a little blog. I doubt the readership is so great that her short comment–her cure for migraines–will result in a wave of apostasy.

    Of course, you can make a “slippery slope” argument here and you could be right. I just keep coming back to the whole gentleness thing that was so effective on us.

  29. Adam

    See, that’s where the fallacy lies. Are we not our brother’s keeper? If they represent themselves as LDS Member in good standing, but then admit breaking the Word of Wisdom, are we not to call them out, as they are publicly declaring themselves above the Prophet?

    We are absolutely to call out those who publicly decree they know better than the Prophet.

    I’m an ex-smoker, club kid. Gentle was wasted on me. Jesus said go and sin no more, he didn’t say, keep on truckin’ and best of luck.

    You either believe the Prophet is the mouthpiece of God, and what he says is God’s law, or you do not. The biggest lie Satan every sold was that there were shades of grey. There are not, which is why we have 10 commandments, 13 Articles of Faith, and numerous laws brought from God.

    I am sick of seeing members making excuses for why the Laws given to us don’t apply to them.

    Not a Prophet, but a personal friend of mine wrote in his book the following.

    “Now listen to me, people, for this is the key – evil can be twisted into virtue if you phrase it just right. Any vice is acceptable if you cloak it as an issue of freedom. Any immorality is worth fighting for if you tell them they are fighting for choice, if you wrap it in the mantle of privacy and freedom…”
    – Chris Stewart “The Great and Terrible”

  30. John Wincek

    Wow, Adam. Another very challenging reply!

    I’m still not convinced, but it gives me pause. A proper response is going to take some thought (not to mention some prayer).

    We have a great instructor at church who is a mechanic by trade, and he admits to being stubborn. He says, sometimes it takes a 2 x 4 upside the head for him to get the message. You sound like you may be cut from a similar cloth. (“Gentle was wasted on me.”)

    But we have watched our instructor slowly transform. He has changed from a fearsome, ominous bear of a man who intimidated many just by his stern, silent presence, into a warm, funny, humble bear of an instructor who wins over students with his great humor and gentleness.

    I guess we’re on opposite sides of the fence temperamentally. But then, we’re all different, aren’t we? Let me think on this and see if I can come back with something intelligent later on.

    I still keep coming back to the “catch more flies with honey” approach. But clearly, that doesn’t apply to everyone!

    (This has been challenging, and fun.)

  31. Mike Edwards

    “We are absolutely to call out those who publicly decree they know better than the Prophet.”

    Really? It seems the issue has evolved to whether or not it is ok to “Call Out” anyone who admits to having chosen to drink green tea.

    I have some questions:

    We know that the main drinks people drank in 1833 were tea and coffee and that Hirum Smith and Brigham Young expressed an opinion that “hot drinks” therefore, meant tea and coffee. Do we know whether they actually drank green tea then, or was it generally the fermented black tea? I know from the old herbals that they also drank herb tea — and, I think, in some abundance. Why wasn’t herb tea included since they drank it, but not green tea, since they probably drank less of green tea, if any, than herb tea? Do we know enough about this to speak with any certainty?

    Did any of the actual Prophets decree against green tea? And if they did, was it expressed as doctrinal, or just as personal opinion? Remember that Joseph Smith complained that he could not express a personal opinion without someone claiming it was revelation.

    It would help if the Prophet would give a definitive statement on this, as the church recently did about caffeine–or even express an opinion. Some say this isn’t clarified because we are supposed to use our agency within the promptings of the Spirit. Perhaps that’s true. But perhaps the Prophet is waiting for a more definitive information and inspiration.

    If the reason the Church has not issued a clarification on this is because we are to use our own agency, our reasoning, our prayers, and the promptings of the Spirit to make a decision, am I really safe in judging someone who chooses to drink Green Tea for medical reasons (or take medication with alcohol in it)? Or should I respect their agency — especially since the Church does not seem to have been definitive. And yet it seems that when someone consults with the Spirit and comes up with a prompting that leads them to drink green tea, there are those who will immediately accuse them of disobedience to church authorities and of justifying their decision based on whatever they want to do. Perhaps there is some of that. But just perhaps, there are sincere devote folks out there who have been inspired by the Spirit. The Lord says “Vengeance is Mine”–[not yours]– and “Judge not lest ye yourself be judged.” And make no mistake that punishing someone with a verbal tongue-lashing can be a self-righteous form of vengeance.

    For the most part, I don’t think of this forum as one where people are publicly teaching their beliefs against Church doctrine in order to influence others — basis for excommunication. Rather I feel that these are individuals sharing opinions and trying to help one another — at least that’s my understanding of the spirit of this blog. And there is a big difference. Should we be driving people away rather than loving and sharing? Is this not what Christ did? Only in the case of the money-changers.

    I see nothing wrong in saying that I feel that doctrine is such and such and that the other person is in error. But to label someone as evil because that’s your perspective?? What was it that Christ said to those who wanted to stone that women? Let he who is not a sinner cast the first stone; and see to it that you get the log out of your own eye before you criticize the splinter in your neighbor’s eye.

    From a secular perspective: In Credibility Theory, there are certain signs that tend to indicate a lack of credibility on the part of the writer– a carefulness of generalization; an effort at objectivity; a willingness to specifically cite sources; and a lack of question-begging epithets (or what I call prejudicial adjectives). A writer is betrayed by his tone of voice. Those who are self righteous or blaming in their tone are prone to error, since they become influenced by their emotion which quells reasoning and compassionate listening skills. The person who always has to get in the last word is also suspect.

    All of this is, of course, my personal opinion. But, you know- sometimes it is better to be kind than to be right. Sometimes. Just sometimes.

  32. John Wincek

    Holy cow, Mike. That was terrific! Bravo.

  33. Adam

    Those who need clarification, are those that seek and entire list of what to do and not to do. God and Jesus have both spoken about those who need taught in all things, rather than just taking what the Prophet has said at face value, and trying to interpret into something it isn’t.

    As for me and mine, we’ll continue to follow the Lord, you folks can continue to make excuses for those who do not.

    I never said I didn’t sin, I just don’t take it to a public forum to justify why I sin, or how I sin.

    FYI, the internet is PUBLIC.

  34. Adam

    This is more of a wherefore the guilty taketh the truth to be hard scenario. Jane didn’t like the truth, so ran away.

  35. Adam

    I guess the LDS Church just puts up false doctrine on their site, oh wait, they don’t, they permit truthful postings, and delete the ones that aren’t truthful. I can’t find a single post that is permitted that states Green Tea is okay, but we’ll just supplant our opinion about what God knows is best for our own, that never goes badly, right?

  36. arvid

    Adam, if people ask the lord on their own and come to an understanding with him through the spirit, then who are you to judge what they know to be true? that is personal revelation that we are taught is alive and happens all the time, and you are telling people that they shouldn’t follow their personal revelation that comes directly from god? no person is perfect and that includes prophets. they are very righteous, but i know i will follow what comes directly from the lord that i know with a hundred percent surety is true.

    Now im not saying that it is ok or not to drink tea, i actually came to this page to try to find that out for myself, because my friend offered me some and i didnt know what it was at the time. so now that i have done some research, ill think about it, and pray and ask if the decision i have come to is the right one

  37. Clark

    I realize it’s been a few months since anyone has posted here, but I stumbled across it while researching other aspects of the Word of Wisdom. Some people who have made comments here seem to think it’s a waste of time to discuss the Word of Wisdom when there are more serious transgressions going on in the Church, but that’s only if you assume this is all we care about. Is is not also possible that we can care about multiple issues? I’m commenting here because it’s an interesting topic that I’ve been thinking about and researching, and also because I’m not sure if I know anyone who truly follows every aspect of the Word of Wisdom. What would happen if we really did?

    I found a few quotes from Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses that might be useful if anyone who has already posted here happens to see this, or if anyone else happens to stumble across it. There are other talks in the Journal of Discourses relating to the Word of Wisdom, not just by Brigham Young, that are also very helpful (they’re all online, by the way).

    The first one is from the Journal of Discourses vol. 12, pp. 27-28, from April 7th 1867. After laying out some of the problems Church members had been having with the Word of Wisdom, notably bishops who drank whiskey, tea, and coffee, he says this: “The Word of Wisdom is one thing, and ignorance, superstition, or bigotry is another. I wish people to come to an understanding with regard to the Word of Wisdom.” He then relates a story about a brother, “President of the Elder’s Quorum in Nauvoo”, during the time in Nauvoo when there were a lot of sick people, who would refuse to give anyone a blessing if there was any evidence of tea in the house. He explains, “I recollect he went into a house where a woman was sick, who wanted him to lay hands on her; he saw a teapot in the corner containing catnip tea, but without stopping to enquire he left the house, exclaiming against her and her practices.”

    And then the very next line is this: “Now, there is no harm in a teapot, even if it contains tea, if it is let alone; and I say of a truth that where a person is diseased, say, for instance, with canker, there is no better medicine than green tea, and where it is thus used it should be drank sparingly.” He then goes on to discuss some of the practices and excesses going on at the time, within the Church, as well as the dangers of these excesses (and when he speaks of excesses, he talks about from three or four to over a dozen cups of strong tea). But he also says this: “If a person is weary, worn out, cast down, fainting, or dying, a brandy sling, a little wine, or a cup of tea is good to revive them. Do not throw these things away, and say they must never be used; they are good to be used with judgment, prudence, and discretion.” And then, referring to the bishops (and anyone else, I assume) who drink tea, he says this: “They take it when they do not need it and when it injures them. I want to say to the Elders in Israel, this is not our privilege. We have a great many privileges, but to indulge in liquor or other things to our own injury is not one of them.”

    There is another address later that year where he refers to his words from the previous Conference address I just quoted from. This is found in the Journal of Discourses vol. 12, p. 117, August 17th 1867. The first quote is this:

    “We, for instance exhort the Saints to observe the Word of Wisdom, that they may, through its observance, enjoy the promised blessing. Many try to excuse themselves because tea and coffee are not mentioned, arguing that it refers to hot drinks only. What did we drink hot when that Word of Wisdom was given? Tea and coffee. It definitely refers to that which we drink with our food.”

    He then says that “the Spirit whispers to me to call upon the Latter-day Saints to observe the Word of Wisdom, to let tea, coffee, and tobacco alone, and to abstain from drinking spirituous drinks. This is what the Spirit signifies through me. If the Spirit of God whispers this to His people through their leader, and they will not listen nor obey, what will be the consequence of their disobedience?” He goes on to list some of those consequences. I leave it to you to find and read them if you are interested, but my guess is that you already know. It’s interesting, though – I wonder if this moment is when the Word of Wisdom became a commandment….

    But is this not a sensible explanation of the Word of Wisdom? I like how he makes a case for compassion first, and then lays down the law. That is how it should be, in my opinion, because being truly compassionate is both my greatest desire and my greatest struggle in life, but I think you ought to be truly compassionate before you try to lay down the law. Reading Brigham Young’s words answered several questions for me and helped me get a clearer picture of what is or is not allowed and whether or not there are extenuating circumstances, and now I understand better how I want to live the Word of Wisdom. The Word of Wisdom is “adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints,” and it’s probably safest to assume that I fall into that category.

  38. Redfeather

    I am LDS. I drink cold decaf green tea. Green tea is very good for the body. I think as long as the tea is cold and decaf I’m drinking it.

  39. Redfeather

    I do believe that the tern “hot” was misinterpreted. To me that means whiskey, vodka etc. Our new Prophet as the one before him, I met both. Both wonderful men. They have done wonderful jobs thus far in bringing my church up to speed. But I hate hot drinks no matter what they are. My husband died in Feb (2014) Pain level was threw the roof. Doc could not give him anything else stronger he said. So he started to mix the pain pills with whiskey. Helped the pain, but killed the man. His colon was ate up, multiple holes in his colon from the combo and became septic. So there is council in alcohol. If it is used for medical purposes it is. I have a few medical problems that the cold-decaf tea helps. My late husband also had cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol is hard on the liver and the whole body. But my interpretation is hot drinks mean alcohol. Members use to drink wine, but they had to make it. That was the one catch. Wine is also proven to be good for the body, but not people who are diabetics. One day maybe our new prophet will have a clarification come out. Until then we use our judgment. And yes we are Christians-The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, means we will follow Jesus anywhere, and do what he tells us. God Bless all you.

  40. correct me if I’m wrong but I believe 90 percent of all tea on the market comes from the same tea berry, it is simply prepared in some way to change its color and flavor. that leads me to believe “tea” is generally the drink derived from the tea berry. On the other hand, herbal teas are simply roots for leaves of something that are boiled.

  41. Redfeather

    Teas come from all kinds of different places. Not from the same tea berry Mike. I was told by the Bishop do you follow the letter of the Law (WOW) or the Spirit of the Law. Many Teas are very benefical to the body and our conditions in the body. I drink mine cold. I don’t drink nothing hot esp hot choc. I make the tea my self out of herbs I have purchased. All of em are Decaf. TO me I am not breaking the WOW. I drink them cold and for my medical conditions. I also only use Stevia.Rooibos is just one of a dozen I make. A clarification is needed and maybe one day, one will come. Nyquil and many products have alcohol in them. If used for health purposes it is allowed. Use your own judgment or ask your Bishop.

  42. Denise

    Rooibos tea is a herbal tea made from Fynbos originating in South Africa and has been said to be acceptable by many Church leaders. It contains no caffeine or other harmful substances and in fact has many health benefits. More information on herbal teas here:

  43. Bob

    Mike, I’m no expert on all the kinds of tea, but I do know that green and the various black teas are from the same type of plant, and are made from the leaves, but as you say, are prepared differently.
    My first and only post until now was on Jan. 1, 2014, so a year later I thought I’d check back in. Sorry I brought up same-sex marriage. It was bound to be a distraction.
    Nevertheless, the issue for individual choice is the same whether the issue is marriage, tea, or anything else that involves benefiting or harming self and others. And the issue is this: When should we follow our own judgment on an issue, and when should we follow someone else’s? We use agency when we choose to be obedient to authorities even though it conflicts with our own judgment, and we also use agency when we choose to follow our own judgment contrary to authorities. But how do we decide to obey or not? If I am highly informed on an issue, and the issue is one that truly matters because people are affected in a significant way, I must follow my own judgment. If drinking green tea (again, it’s just an example) from the age of 15 is statistically highly likely to help me be physically and mentally healthy in my old age, with no risk on the downside, then I will drink it, and I do because strong evidence supports it (as I said before, billions of Asians over thousands of years, plus recent evidence from U.S.-based research). This is not trivial, just intangible in the short run. Likewise, I will consume as little high fructose corn sweetener and artificial sweeteners as I can because the evidence is clear that they do no good whatever and are seriously harmful when used regularly. As Rich Henkle posted, 3/3/14, “Use your God Given Brain.” Does it really make sense to avoid green tea that’s beneficial while paying no mind to the ubiquitous junk sweeteners that are seriously contributing to obesity and diabetes? Yes, the artificial sweeteners, too. They mess with the microbiome. Look it up.

  44. don arby

    Richard Henkle mentioned Marijuana…

    Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa, Indica, et. al) is currently legal in several state jurisdictions for both medical and “recreational” use. It is not considered to be “addictive” by the American Medical Association. I happen to reside in a jurisdiction where marijuana has been decriminalized. I therefore do not believe that ingestion of marijuana in the form of a decoction/infusion violates the Word of Wisdom. I am a member of the LDS Church (Mormon) in good standing and maintain my temple recommend. The practice of “smoking” marijuana may contribute to lung problems, etc, just as inhaling the smoke of any burnt substance might, so I would not defend such a practice. However, I do not see how ingestion by the boiled infusion or eating the whole or parts of the plant in its natural form violates the WOW.

  45. Douglass E. Stevenson

    The Church policy on the Word of Wisdom is found in Handbook 2: Administering the Church, Sec. 21.3.11 Word of Wiscom: “The only official interpretation of “hot drinks” (D&C 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term “hot drinks” means tea and coffee.” The tea to which early church leaders referred, and the only one in common use at the time, was the infusion made from the leaves or stems of the Asian tea bush, Camellia sinensis.

    The LDS Word of Wisdom baptismal and temple worthiness standard expressly forbids ingestion of beverages made from infusions of plant parts of all varieties of the Asian tea bush, Camellia sinensis, from which black, green, kukicha, oolong, pu-erh, white and yellow teas are derived. The various teas differ only in times of harvesting and methods of processing. Decaffeinated teas made from the Asian tea plant also are forbidden. However, neither caffeine nor tannins are the issue. The main issue is faith in the word of the Lord given through prophets of god, presently laid out in Church policies in Handbook 2.

    Caffeinated soft drinks and caffeine containing infusions of gurana (Paullinia cupana), yerba mate(Ilex paraguariensis) and yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) are not included. However, suggestions to avoid them have been around since Apostle John A. Widtsoe’s article, “The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation”, in the July 18, 1940 Millenial Star (pp. 525) and1st Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Bishop H. Burke Peterson’s article, “Q&A: Questions and Answers” in the October New Era (pp. 34).

    In a 1988 article, “Caffeine — The Subtle Addiction” in the June Ensign (pp. 60), Dr. Clifford J. Stratton, M.D., Professor of Medicine & Anatomy in the College Medicine at the University of Nevada, Reno, reiterated the Church’s interpretation of the Word of Wisdom, stating, “According to a statement in the Priesthood Bulletin of February 1972 (volume 8, number 1), ‘There has been no official interpretation of [the] Word of Wisdom except that which was given by the Brethren in the very early days of the Church when it was declared that ‘hot drinks’ meant tea and coffee.

    “With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.'”

  46. David

    It all comes from the plant; Whether white tea, green tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, iced tea or black tea, they all come from the same plant, the Tea Plant or Camellia Sinensis. It is simply the way the plucked leaves are processed, that changes its character, chemical composition and appearance. These all existed in Joseph Smiths time too. So, it’s pretty hard to justify drinking any of these if you believe in the letter or the spirit of the Word of Wisdom.

    Anything else, though called tea is not really “Tea” because it is not made with Tea or Camellia Sinensis.