Friday, December 14, 2007

Green tea

Recently every morning when the neighborhood kids are going to school I've noticed a couple of the boys carrying filled plastic bottles so last night I asked the English kids the reason why. It turns out that all the kids carry bottles or thermoses to school every morning filled with tea!

"What?! Is this something new? I don't think my kids ever took tea to school unless it was a field trip day."

It turns out that the elementary school has instructed the kids and parents on the health benefits from tea and for this winter season the children are required to bring a bottle of tea every day to keep in their cubbyholes at school. Fine. If they don't want to drink water they can drink tea, right? But wait! This tea isn't for drinking! This tea is for gargling! It seems that someone in Japan did a study and discovered that gargling with green tea kills germs so after every recess the kids go get their bottles of tea, take a few swigs and gargle.

I asked about the effects of gargling and some of the boys didn't think it was all that effective though they admitted they hadn't caught colds yet this year. One boy said since his mother makes him hot tea just as he leaves for school he likes to carry the steaming plastic bottle because it warms his hands along the route to the school. Another boy made the comment that he'd heard that some of the schools in the tea producing part of Japan have hot running tea coming out of the faucets!

When my kids entered 1st grade in Japan, there were all sorts of guidelines that were "strongly recommended" such as "always carry a handkerchief and a travel package of tissue paper" and "make sure to wash your hands and gargle whenever coming indoors". I'm afraid though my kids might have been game to adopt these customs, I could never stay on top of things and send them off to school with their handkerchiefs and tissues. As for the washing hands, well of course if they'd been playing in the dirt and it was time for dinner they were directed to the sink, but gargling? That's another one that never placed high on the priority list. Maybe my brother and I were unusually healthy or maybe my mother didn't train us right but anyway I'd never heard of this custom and unless I'm stricken with a major sore throat, it never crosses my mind to gargle (let alone with green tea!) Not so of some of my Japanese friends. If they come back from a shopping trip or even a walk around the block the first thing they do (in their own home) is head for the sink and in a few seconds I hear the ritual of gargling. They swear it keeps them healthy but my own theory is that my body is so contaiminated with germs because I don't gargle that I've built up a natural immunity.

HOWEVER... we are heading into the flu season. Think I should brew up a pot of green tea?


anne bebbington said...

I think the little boy using his hot tea container as a hand warmer is very clever - initiative, a wonderful thing!

Annelies said...

I love tea, especially green tea, but I've never heard of gargling with green tea.
Washing hands is indeed very common, but gargling ?
Nice reading your blog !

The Calico Cat said...

Think I should brew up a pot of green tea?

For drinking - or maybe as a hand warmer.

gargling sound a lot better than some folk remedies & I like that it is proactive. But it is a habit that I would never catch onto...

dee said...

I have my green tea every afternoon this time of year-don't know if it really works against colds but but I haven't had one in a very long time and my cholesterol has gone down several points since I have been drinking it. Works for me!

Nancy said...

Utterly amazing! As always, thanks for sharing life in another world.


Elaine Adair said...

In an effort to just plain DRINK more, I've been using green tea, but that photo is GREEN -- the tea I'm getting is not green, more of a murky tan. ???

Gargling? Why not just drink it? -- seems that 'drinking' coats the throat in the same way garglineg does.

Thanks for the post.

atet said...

Hmmnn...I suppose it couldn't hurt!

Mary said...

I love green tea too....maybe I should just swish it around in my mouth a bit before swallowing?

Shelina said...

Interesting. I rarely gargle. But I have gotten much better about washing my hands after I've been outside. I guess as an added benefit, their breath will smell more like tea and less like lunch or breakfast!

meggie said...

I suppose anything that stops the spread of flu or colds has to be good. I would never have thought of gargling as a matter of course!
I dont like 'normal' tea, but do like green tea when we go to Chinese Restaurants!
As usual, another interesting post!

andsewitis Holly said...

Well, this is interesting, Tanya, because just this year I bought a huge box of Japanese green tea from Costco and have been drinking at least one mug a day and for the first time *ever* I have not had a cold yet this school year. Usually I catch a cold by the second week of school and here it is December already. Maybe there really is something to it - just maybe hmmmm? Haven't tried the gargling, though.