Thursday 28 September 2017


Doctor doctor I get a pain in my eye every time I drink tea.
Have you tried taking the spoon out?
I was remind of this watching this instructional video for making the latest elixir to appear in our beverage closet. Cripes, how difficult can it be to spoon a dark powder into a cup and add water that it needs a video?

Me I'm a simple chap, because of the culture in which I grew up, Like George Orwell, I like a nice cup of tea [R credits]. When I was a teenager, and knew no better, I would put a spoonful of loose tea into a cup, stir, add sugar and milk, drink it down hot-and-strong. Often enough, on a no-waste jag, I'd scoop out the soggy tea-leaves and eat them too: rrrrroughage! Now, however,  . . .
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.
. . . I drink my tea so weak that making a pot is more like making mystical passes over the water than infusing anything. I don't do Infusions - chamomile; fennel; bedtime; rooibos; wuggawugga root; lemongrass; honeybush - I know enough about the diverse pharmacopoeia of secondary compounds that plants produce to deter herbivores. I won't trouble to give you the Latin names of these ingredients because I don't believe the package contains, to sufficient purity, what the label asserts.

On Saturday, at home, if it's going, I'll have a cappuccino. This caused much amusement to our Polish friend Tadek when he spent the Winter with us in 2006 & 2007 "Hej Bobek, soboda, kawa har har har".

Every so often, coffee and milk will go off menu and replaced with various substitutes.  I don't feel happy with the term chamomile or rooibos tea, because I'm with Wikipedia: "Tea is an aromatic beverage commonly prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia" Likewise, I deprecate chemical emulsions like Oat Milk; Soya Milk; and Almond Milk. And I certainly don't drink them: far too complex. Compare:
  • Soymilk
    • Filtered Water, Whole Soybeans, Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12
  • Milk
    • Milk
I'm not the only one - 10 reasons to never ever drink soya milk.  The latest faux coffee is called Macaccino which is achieving market share because coffee Coffea spp. is deadly p'ison. Instead Macaccino is a powdered amalgam of three completely unrelated species:
  • Carob is the seed of the tree Ceratonia siliqua, the seeds grow in long drooping pods that betray its membership of Order Fabales, the legumes: beans, peas and the locust tree.
  • Maca comes from the roots of Lepidium meyenii a member of Order Brassicales which includes turnip, cabbage, mustard, capers and nasturtium.
  • Lucuma derives from the fruits of Pouteria lucuma a tree that grows in Andean valleys. It is in the same Order Ericales as tea, blueberry, persimmon, kiwi fruit and cranberry.
That worries me a little. Plant secondary compounds are one level of worry but the interaction terms of several different species, with their own list of potentially toxic ingredients, is another. So I thought I'd find out a bit about it.  The site boasts about its 'dense nutrition': which enumerates:
  • alkaloids [would that be atropine, caffeine, cocaine, psilocine? all of which are alkaloids], 
  • ecdysone [an insect developmental hormone],
  • saponins [used as fish poisons and include solanine from deadly nightshade],
  • tannins [in wine and tea, sure, but tannins also denature animal skins to leather]
Here's the breakdown Macaccino amino acids which is interesting because it seems that none of the three species in the mix has detectable quantities of cysteine one of the 20 amino acids that are found in all proteins.  It also rings true that there is no asparagine [Asn, N] or glutamine [Gln, Q] in the report, that's because all these amides get broken down in the process of protein hydrolysis: so Asn becomes aspartic acid [Asp, D] while Gln becomes glutamic acid [Glu, Q]. And the proportional concentrations of amino acids in macaccino look normal enough compared [see chart R] to the ratios found in UniProt the protein sequence database, A bit more arginine and glutamate/glutamine than average expectations and a little less proline, threonine and alanine. I cannot believe that anyone, however deluded, would consume Macaccino for its protein content. I'm surprised that the Macaccino marketeers haven't checked out my graph because Glu = glutamic acid is a natural human neurotransmitter and Macacccino is loaded with the stuff. 

I'm guessing its benefits, if any, are no better than placebo. No worse than tea, indeed, but considerably more expensive.  Remember Michael Pollan's advice for food "Eat food; not too much; mostly plants"? Here's Bob on beverage "Keep it simple, stupid"

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