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JEMANN - Does the church include Green Tea in the word of wisdom?
JOEL - The Word of Wisdom (D&C 89:9) does not specify green or black tea; it only says "hot drinks".
“Hot drinks” were officially defined as tea and coffee in a general conference in the very early days of the Church. Elder John A. Widtsoe, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reported the following:
“The Word of Wisdom contains certain very important warnings. It declares that alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee are not good for the body. The revelation says “hot drinks,” but before the revelation was a year old, “hot drinks” were defined to include tea and coffee” (Elder John A. Widtsoe, Conference Report, April 1926).
Black and green tea both come from the same camellia sinensis plant. The main differences between the two are that black tea is further processed by fermentation and green tea generally has a little less caffeine but more harmful tannins compared to black tea. The Word of Wisdom doesn't say anything about caffeine being the reason for something to avoid; it only says "hot drinks", interpreted to mean tea and coffee by past church leaders. No directive has come from the church that specifies that green tea is included or not included, and you might get different opinions from church members as to whether it should be. So it is pretty much something that is left to the member to decide on their own.
The Church has said the following in a letter:
"the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided."
(Letter from D. O. McKay, H. B. Brown, N. E. Tanner, The First Presidency, 1968)
This could include a number of things (including green tea) that have not been specified in observing the Word of Wisdom. Because green tea comes from the same plant as black tea, I personally include it in my observing the Word of Wisdom as do most other church members, but that is by choice.
You can live the letter of the law by only including hot black coffee and hot black tea as things to avoid, or you can live the spirit of the law and include many other things that might be harmful or addictive to your body. The choice is yours.