affects different people very differently. We find among the
ordinary effects of tea-drinking:
Exhilaration:--an elevation of feeling, a lightness of mood or spirits;
a cheerfulness or even joy, which is compatible with rest. This effect
may be entirely independent of pure stimulus, or of any disposition to
mental or physical activity.
Stimulation:--a quickening or rousing to action of any faculty, but as
usually employed, an urging to action of bodily or mental powers.
Sustaining:--enabling one to continue the expenditure of energy with
less sense of fatigue, at the time, or afterwards.
Refreshing:--relieving or reviving after exertion of any kind;
reanimating, invigorating; contributing to rest after fatigue.
Exciting:--in the sense of stimulation of brain and nervous system to
higher tension, but not necessarily attended by disposition to labor or
Now some tea-drinkers find in the beverage exhilaration only, a
lightness of mood, but they are disposed to rest and to revery, to
simply a passive meditation, or an indulgence of the imagination.
Others are stimulated to mental or to physical activity, and are
sustained during such action. Afterwards they are refreshed when
fatigued, by the same beverage.
Others again are nervously excited and cannot rest or sleep; but are
too "nervous," as they express it, to set about any formal task,
especially of a mental character.
We have known tea-drinkers, too, who after a hard day's toil, could
drink two or three cups of strong tea and lie down to sleep for the
night as quietly as babes are expected to--but do not.
It must be evident that each person should observe the effects of tea
upon himself or herself and be governed accordingly. Tea is a poison to
some temperaments, and so are strawberries. Tea will cure a headache or
may produce one; will dispose to rest or excite to action. We will sum
then by conceding that all our quoted authorities are right in their
conclusions, if limited to a limited class of tea-drinkers, and all are
wrong, in a very broad application.
Theine (synonym for caffeine) is the one constant agency in the effects
of tea. It is present in teas that are devoid of essential oils--so far
as the senses go--and it then still refreshes, stimulates, sustains,
and even exhilarates, by actual experiment.
The feeling of "comfort," attributed by some writers to the hot water
of the tea, may be also enjoyed by drinking cold tea, which is no less
refreshing in hot weather. The high-flavored essential oils (strictly
oils which evaporate at very moderate temperatures) of Formosa teas
seem to take part in the superior exhilarating or almost intoxicating
effects of the choice varieties, but we have no certain proof of the
fact; while the more intoxicating and stimulating, as well as
deleterious, green teas possess very little, if any, of these pleasant
It seems to be an authodox opinion among physiologists that tea
contributes nothing towards support of the human system; that it only
rouses it into action, an effect which should, consistently, be
followed by corresponding reaction and depression, which plainly is not
the case. This hypothesis leaves the enquiring layman in a dilemma. Tea
must either enable the system to draw more heavily or more economically
upon the resources afforded by recognized food, or it is itself
nutriment. Otherwise, an established principle of physics--that there
can be no expenditure of energy without correlative cost--would be
subverted. As tea is admitted upon experience to be most useful, and
most craved by mankind, where the supply of food is insufficient; and
as it is known to refresh and sustain in large degree in the absence of
any food whatever, there is fair ground for the opinion, however
heterodox, that tea directly affords nutriment to the human organism,
and, possibly, to the brain and nerves in particular, as with
Animal gelatine has been placed in the same class with tea by some
scientists, and it is asserted that it conserves waste without itself
entering into the substance of human tissue. It is an accepted
physiological law that nothing taken as food or drink can support
expenditure of human energy in sensible motion, in heat, or in the
nervous waste of mental or emotional exercise without first being built
up into living tissue; the breaking down or chemical decomposition of
which tissue, and subsequent oxidation of less complex compounds or
their constituents, is the direct source of bodily energy of every
description. If tea and gelatine, and possibly some forms of alcohol,
are to form exceptions to the law, the law no longer stands. But it
would seem more reasonable to amend the hypothesis concerning
exceptions, and bring them into line by admitting that they are
nutritious in a manner not yet ascertained. All physiological laws are
provisional, good until proved insufficient, and then to be amended in
the light of accumulating facts.