The selected works of Mahatma Gandhi

Key To Health


Table of Contents

About This Book

Written by : M. K. Gandhi
Edited by : Bharatan Kumarappa
Foreword by : Morarji Desai
First Edition : 3,000 copies, December 1954
Fifteenth Re-print : 5,000 copies, March 2011
Total : 69,000 copies
ISBN : 81-7229-040-3
Printed and Published by : Jitendra T. Desai
Navajivan Mudranalaya,
© Navajivan Trust, 1954


Chapter 06: Tea, Coffee & Cocoa

None of these is required by the body.The use of tea is said to have originated in China. It has a special usein that country. As a rule one cannot rely on the purity of drinkingwater in China and therefore it must be boiled before use to ensuresafety. Some clever Chinaman discovered a grass called tea which whenadded to boiled water in a very small quantity gave it a golden color.The color did not appear unless the water was really boiled. Thus thegrass became an infallible test for seeing when a given quantity ofwater was boiled. The way, the test is used, is to put the tea leaves ina strainer. If the water was boiled it will assume a golden color.Another quality of tea leaves is said to be that they impart a delicateflavor to the water.
Tea prepared as above is harmless. Butthe tea that is generally prepared and taken has not only nothing torecommend it, it is actually harmful. The leaves contain tannin which isharmful to the body. Tannin is generally used in the tanneries to hardenleather. When taken internally it produces a similar effect upon themucous lining of the stomach and intestine. This impairs digestion andcause dyspepsia. It is said that in England innumerable women sufferfrom various aliments on account of their habit of drinking tea whichcontains tannin. Habitual tea drinkers begin to feel restless if they donot get their cup at the usual time. In my opinion, the usefulness oftea, if any, consists in the fact that it supplies a warm sweet drinkwhich contains some milk. The same purpose may well be served by takingboiled hot water mixed with a little milk and sugar.
What I have said about tea applies more or less to coffee also. There is a popular saying about coffee in Hindustani which say, "Coffee allays cough and relieves flatulence, but it impairs physical and sexual vigor and making of blood watery, so that there are three disadvantages against its two advantages." I do not know how far the saying is justified.
I hold similar opinion with regard to cocoa. Those whose digestion works normally, do not require the help of tea, coffee or cocoa. A healthy man can get all the satisfaction that he needs out of ordinary food. I have freely partaken of all the three. I used to suffer from one aliment or another while I was using them. By giving them up I have lost nothing, and have benefited a good deal. I can get the same satisfaction from a clear vegetable soup that I used to derive from tea etc. Hot water, honey and lemon make a healthy nourishing drink, which can well substitute tea or coffee.