The 20 Health Benefits of Tea: 1686 style.

Posted by Robert Godden on January 25, 2014

Lord Devotea’s List Week: List 3*

Thomas Povey was a 17th century man about town that history seems to recall as titled, incompetent, rich and powerful, and not surprisingly, a British Member of Parliament. He seems to have done well under both Cromwell and the restored King Charles II, and he was on the spot when tea was becoming big in London in the mid/late 17th century.

He is remembered for a bunch of lawsuits and bunfights, but also for a list he translated from Chinese explaining the health benefits of tea.

Today we celebrate Povey’s list. With some additional commentary from me.

1.     It purifyes the Bloud of that which is grosse and Heavy.

Getting all those gross, heavy things out of your blood is a really good idea. You don’t want lumpy blood.

2.     It Vanquisheth heavy Dreames.

Heavy dreams are like, heavy, man, as they said in the 60s. The 1660s. And we don’t want that. Safely vanquished, thanks to tea.

3.     It Easeth the brain of heavy Damps.

Tea drinkers will be light as a feather once all this heaviness is easethed. And nobody needs a damp brain. A clear, dry untroubled head can be achieved, it seems.

5.     Prevents the Dropsies.

Dropsy is basically accumulated fluid in body cavities. Do you want that? Well, do you? No, you don’t! Good ol’ tea to the rescue again. Tip top, empty cavities are only a swift cup of Lord Petersham away.

6.     Drieth Moist humours in the Head.

There’s nothing funny about moist humours in your head. We’ve already set our goal for a head untroubled by moisture, so this has to help. Problem Solveth.

7.     Consumes Rawnesse.

If you have a touch of rawnesse, then having it quietly consumed is a good thing. Stops people asking impertinent questions, such as : “I say, my good man, is that a touch of rawnesse about your person?”

8.     Opens Obstructions.

Fantastic. It doesn’t explain whether the obstruction is a polyp on your bowel, a distended tonsil, an overly ambitious supervisor at work or a rolled-over truck on the highway, but tea will no doubt fix them all.

9.     Cleares the Sight.

Throwing away my glasses now. Where did you all go?

10. Clenseth and Purifieth adults humours and a hot Liver.

Humour can be downright dirty, we know that, but a quick mug and you’ll be telling nice grandmother-friendly jokes about kittens and squirrels whilst your liver cools.

11. Purifieth defects of the Bladder and Kiddneys.

I think we all know that after a few cups of tea, the bladder and kidneys are up for a spot of purification.

12. Vanquisheth Superfluous Sleep

Sleep is wasteful enough, but Superfluous sleep? It’s enough to drive Jon Bon Jovi mad. Luckily, it’s about to get vanquished, and vanquished hard.

13. Drives away dissiness, makes one Nimble and Valient.

Even though I chose not to be a professional ballet dancer, I feel great knowing that the next time my nimbleness or valour is required, I won’t be sidetracked by dissiness.

14. Encourageth the heart and Drives away feare.

Fear can’t stand up to tea. We all know that.

15. Drives away all Paines of the Collick which proceed from Wind.

I think we know what he means here. The 16th century diet was quite robust, unlike what we eat these days. On second thoughts, scratch that, and order a tea with your cheeseburger and fries.

16. Strengthens the Inward parts and Prevents Consumptions.

It’s great to have really strong inward parts. In this case probably the lungs as ‘consumption’ is tuberculosis. If only medical science had known!

17. Strengthens the Memory.

It really does. Tea drinkers have usually memorised pi to more decimal places than non-tea drinkers according to a scientific study I conducted using myself and a cat as subjects. The cat had little memory, and also did not drink tea. I was going to use goldfish, but they kept forgetting to fill in the form.

18. Sharpens the Will and Quickens the Understanding.

Stands to reason, doesn’t it? If you have a better memory a la point 17, you’re not going to go all vague at times when you need to be on the ball.

19. Purgeth Safely the Gaul.

I know enough history to know that Gaul was the Roman name for France, Belgium, Luxembourg and a few other European hot spots of miscreants. So it appears once you’ve imbibed your Earl Grey, you can safely remove Frenchmen. This is a bonus, although my friend @xavier may not agree. Some historians believe this relates to the gall bladder, not the French, but where’s the fun in that?

20. Strengthens the use of due benevolence.

Well, isn’t that just the best. We get to be all benevolent, and show great tolerance for every thing and everyone, except moist brains, heavy stuff and Gauls.

So there you have it. That’s all you need to know!

*This is List 3 of “Lord Devotea’s List Week” a spectacular week of lists that will be spread over the Beasts of Brewdom and Lord Devotea’s Tea Spouts blog. 

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Robert Godden

Certified Tea Nutter. Blender. Author of "The Infusiast" and Tea "Stories"
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