Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Forbidden

In which our Heroine solves a Great Mystery. 

I have a confession.  Sometimes I dream about green tea.  I have vivid dreams.  In my midnight delusions I can see its lovely green color.  The tea’s smell permeates every whiff of air I take into my lungs.  It’s delicious aroma tickles the inside of my nostrils and moves up into the sense area in curling puffs of tempting flavor.  I know, of all things to dream about, why this?  Well, a little background info first:
Mormons (ahem—members of the LDS church) don’t drink coffee or tea—at least, they shouldn’t if they plan on following all the Prophet’s advise, which is what we strive to do.  When my doctors heard that I didn’t drink either of these, they were relieved.  I took it to mean that daily doses of caffeine are bad for the health (especially the brain).  This is something I understood as true before, but it was interesting to see men and women who probably drink the stuff every morning agree with me. 
And then I started reading up on foods that are supposed to help against cancer.  One of the most potent sources of anti-cancer activity in the edible universe is green tea.  Of course, green tea is high in caffeine.  It is not one of your average, lightweight, herbal teas because it possesses powerful reactors against cancerous activity called catechins.  These little guys have “antifungal and antibacterial properties that allow the plant to successfully resist invasion by a large number of pathogens.” (Foods to Fight Cancer, Beliveau and Gingras, 112) And what enables plants to fight their pests, will also help humans to fight theirs.  Green tea prevents angiogenesis: the swelling in the body that allows cancer cells to reproduce.  Said wonderful tea may be one of the chief reasons why certain cancers that plague the West are nearly absent in the East. 
Once, while still living in Provo, Utah and attending the LDS University there (BYU) my husband and I ate at an excellent restaurant called Touch of Seoul.  Our young waitress clearly didn’t know English.  She had to demonstrate a few things with her hands for us and whenever we asked a question, she would answer in the affirmative with polite nods: “Yes, yes.”  After the meal was over, she brought us two cups of a mystery drink.  We guessed it was a tea and asked if it was herbal.  Guess what she said?  I know we should have known better, but we drank it down anyway. 
What followed was the best date night ever.  I remember feeling better than I had in a long time—maybe years.  (At this point, 5 or so years ago, I was already suffering from a loss of vitality.  There’s a good chance my tumor was already manifesting itself).  I felt so alive that night.  And I don’t think it was just the caffeine.  We ended up at Barnes and Noble later, and the books fairly danced before my eyes.  For once, it took so little effort to read.  And I felt really, really happy—like all the cares of the world had just dropped out of my life.  (Have I mentioned yet that my tumor was located in the personality inhabiting part of my mind?)
It may be that I will never taste anything so delicious ever again.  Once I’d begun read about it in my cancer books, I began to suspect that the mysterious substance was green tea.  And yes, I had a few dreams about it—dreams filled with longing and desire of the forbidden.  Then on Saturday I visited a local tea shop here in Anchorage with a friend to buy some herbal tea.  Picturesque canisters line one whole wall of the shop.  I was busy sniffing herbal teas and asking about specific ingredients when the woman who was helping us picked up a nearby green canister and held it out to me.  “Oh, yeees!”  I said in ecstasies, “This is what I want…”  A truly devastating thought bumped its way meanly into my head, “Wait—it’s not herbal, is it?”  Of course not.  But the great mystery is solved.  Yes, Mystery Drink No. 1 was definitely green tea.   

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