Recently, a report from Taiwan suggested that tea producers there had created a prototype “tea pill.” Made of powdered tea leaves, pressed with other good-for-you ingredients, the pill is made for people who want tea, but can't get it, or simply can't be bothered to brew up a cuppa.
Predictably, there have been the following reactions to this news:
1) Tea traditionalists all over the world had a fit and immediately wrote long letters to the editor explaining -in great detail – exactly how tea should be served.
2) People into 'natural' remedies immediately cheered and shoved aside their bottles of ginseng, rosehip, bee wings and eye of newt to make room.
3) Somebody immediately sent out 3.5 million spam emails with subject lines that read, “GET YOUR PRESCR1PT1ON TEA PILLS ONLINE CHEAP! lksajflk”
I'm a big fan of tea. It's one of those great all purpose drinks. You can drink it iced. You can drink it hot. You can drink it to ease into your morning. You can drink it before bed and not lie there, staring at the ceiling for hours, thinking,
“GoshIwonderifI'llhaveenoughtimetomorrow -togetallmyworkdoneandohlookisthatanew -crackinthepaintandwhatadumbideaitwastodrinkcoffee – rightbeforebed.”
Tea also comes in many flavors. There's lemon, and orange pekoe, and Earl Grey, although why anyone would want their tea to taste like an English lord is beyond me. (There is also Lady Grey tea, which begs the question: Didn't they get along well enough to drink the same tea?) You can even get berry teas and herbal teas. Can you get berry and herbal coffee? Mercifully, no. (Quick, someone stop that marketing guy for Charbucks from getting back to headquarters!)
Unfortunately, good tea can also be hard to find. Restaurant tea seems to come in three grades: Cold Dish Water, Luke Warm Dish Water, and Dish Water With The Dish Rag Still In It. Restaurants that offer the latter also always offer lovely flavor enhancers like “whitener” and artificial sweetener.
You can also predict the future with tea. A tea leaf reader will swish your used tea leaves around in the cup and see, for example, an acorn, and she will then say, “This means financial success.” A coffee grounds reader will swish your grounds around, and see… more coffee grounds. She will then say, “Yuck. Don't you ever clean out this pot?”
So, given the importance and versatility of tea, I can see why people would want to have some sort of convenience version for emergencies. But it's a shame it's a pill, because I'm sure half the good effects of tea come from the drinking of it. Indeed, I can think of a lot of other “good for you” things that would be better as a pill:
Lima beans: Nothing – not steaming, not boiling, not even deep frying – makes these things edible. Bonus – they're already basically pill shaped. With a little compression…
Liver: Yes, I know some of you out there actually volunteer to eat liver. You're probably also the same sort of crazy type who gets up early in the morning just to work out. The rest of us really dislike you for that.
Computer skills: Okay, so this isn't a food. But wouldn't it be nice to be able to swallow a pill that would instantly teach you what ILLEGAL OPERATION – GENERAL PROTECTION FAULT 0E 2B 6F actually meant so you could stop doing it and prevent your computer from crashing?Just think how well this would work to lower your blood pressure.
Bugs: This isn't a food either -yet. There's a movement that would see us domesticate insects and eat them. This is because they are (apparently)vitamin packed, there's millions of them, and they don't take up too much space. Personally, I don't think this will ever catch on, simply because the wine pairings would be too complicated (“No, no, sir. Six legs, go with a red. Eight legs require a white. Rose is for six legs and wings, okay?”)
Pills would be easier. Bonus – they're already basically pill shaped. With a little squishing…
While I wait for these developments, I'll stick to the traditional version of my cuppa.
Indeed, I wouldn't give it up for, well… all the tea in China.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.