Can Mormons Drink Herbal Tea?

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must abide by a stringent set of regulations when visiting a Mormon Temple, including abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and other harmful substances. Unfortunately, interpretation of these rules can often differ; leading to questions like Can Mormons Drink Herbal Tea?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently attempted to clarify its health code known as Word of Wisdom, which church members must abide by to gain entrance to a temple. An article published by New Era magazine for teens and young adults confirmed this rule prohibits people from drinking “hot drinks,” such as coffee and tea, as well as harmful or habit-forming substances like nicotine and caffeine. Iced tea still counts as tea under this definition while any beverages that end in “ccino” likely contain coffee which violates church regulations; recreational marijuana use is prohibited while medical cannabis and opioids may be allowed, according to this article.

But the church’s clarification of the Word of Wisdom generated more questions than it answered. Some were left wondering why iced tea should not be included when its source plant is the same as for black and green tea; others wondered if its rules applied to beverages containing chamomile which is often used as an alternative source of caffeine; still others weren’t sure whether tea extracts contained concentrated amounts of chemical found in traditional green and black tea varieties.

At its core, church followers place more value on obedience to God than clarifications. According to Taylor Petrey, professor of religion at Kalamazoo College, most Mormon families interpret and apply the Word of Wisdom according to their individual interpretation and common sense when making food and beverage decisions. Lauren Lethbridge of Brigham Young University’s student newspaper The Universe notes that following its principles is about obedience rather than trying to force ancient scriptures onto modern-day living situations.

At its heart, the church’s Word of Wisdom exists to help its members live healthier lives. If you are a member and have questions about what’s allowed or not permitted for you, check in with your bishop, church friends or doctor. Finally, follow your heart and remember that Heavenly Father is always present and knows best what’s best for you; don’t get bogged down in lists–rely on the Holy Spirit and listen to what your body tells you–this way you can stay close to Jesus while keeping His commandments!

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