None of these is required by the body. The use of tea is said to have originated in China. It has a special use in that country. As a rule one cannot rely on the purity of drinking water in China and therefore it must be boiled before use to ensure safety. Some clever Chinaman discovered a grass called tea which when added to boiled water in a very small quantity gave it a golden color. The color did not appear unless the water was really boiled. Thus the grass became an infallible test for seeing when a given quantity of water was boiled. The way, the test is used, is to put the tea leaves in a strainer. If the water was boiled it will assume a golden color. Another quality of tea leaves is said to be that they impart a delicate flavor to the water.
Tea prepared as above is harmless. But the tea that is generally prepared and taken has not only nothing to recommend it, it is actually harmful. The leaves contain tannin which is harmful to the body. Tannin is generally used in the tanneries to harden leather. When taken internally it produces a similar effect upon the mucous lining of the stomach and intestine. This impairs digestion and cause dyspepsia. It is said that in England innumerable women suffer from various aliments on account of their habit of drinking tea which contains tannin. Habitual tea drinkers begin to feel restless if they do not get their cup at the usual time. In my opinion, the usefulness of tea, if any, consists in the fact that it supplies a warm sweet drink which contains some milk. The same purpose may well be served by taking boiled hot water mixed with a little milk and sugar.
What I have said about tea applies more or less to coffee also. There is a popular saying about coffee in Hindustani which say, "Coffee allays cough and relieves flatulence, but it impairs physical and sexual vigor and making of blood watery, so that there are three disadvantages against its two advantages." I do not know how far the saying is justified.
I hold similar opinion with regard to cocoa. Those whose digestion works normally, do not require the help of tea, coffee or cocoa. A healthy man can get all the satisfaction that he needs out of ordinary food. I have freely partaken of all the three. I used to suffer from one aliment or another while I was using them. By giving them up I have lost nothing, and have benefited a good deal. I can get the same satisfaction from a clear vegetable soup that I used to derive from tea etc. Hot water, honey and lemon make a healthy nourishing drink, which can well substitute tea or coffee.