A Cook's Diary

Oatmeal and malunggay tea

We used to buy oatmeal in large packs and cook the porridge by the pot. Lately, however, we’ve been buying oatmeal in single-serve packs. They are more practical and less wasteful because there are no leftovers.

Instant oatmeal is one of my two emergency breakfast fares (the other being cereals). When there’s little time to prepare, I simply dump the contents of a packet of oatmeal into a bowl, pour in hot water and stir. I always use less than the recommended amount of water because I like to pour in some milk after the oatmeal has rehydrated and softened. Then, I add sliced or chopped fresh fruits.

casaveneracion.com Oatmeal with slices of fresh apple, served with malunggay tea

When my breakfast is already sweet, I usually have it with tea. For some reason, I can’t drink my coffee without sugar and milk but I cannot drink my tea with sugar or milk. Hence, unsweetened tea sans milk or cream is, for me, the best partner for oatmeal. Lately, we’ve been drinking only three kinds of tea at home–loose green tea leaves (no teabags), brown rice tea and malunggay tea.

Malunggay (moringa oleifera) tea may not be the best tasting tea on the planet but it has its benefits. I’ve been a malunggay eater for decades so it wasn’t too hard convincing me to try the tea version.

Two Filipinas, a mother and daughter, is credited with the development of the malunggay tea. An article (“Mom-daughter team makes malunggay tea” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Feb. 16) worthy of a teleserye script relates:

“Rosemarie, who was fond of boiling vegetables as broth, introduced Imee to pinakuluang malunggay. Imee found the broth just ‘too overwhelming, bitter and strong for my taste.’ She observed with amazement, however, that 10 minutes after consuming one cup of the concoction, ‘my breasts started to feel engorged and I was able to pump out four to six ounces [of milk]’.”

Hmmm… for someone already fond of boiling vegetables, it’s amazing that the malunggay “treatment” to produce breast milk would be something new. That’s a trick older than my great-grandmother. But, anyway, perhaps it’s just some dramatic touch in the newspaper article. I mean, really. It simply sounds too melodramatic that mother and daughter’s entrepreneural spirit was sparked by that singular episode and the thought of marketing malunggay tea to lactating mothers. Isn’t it more likely that they had already heard the raves from abroad about the supposed health benefits derived from malunggay and decided they would be pioneers? I don’t see what’s wrong with admitting that. We all need to eke out a living and being a pioneer is a good way to do it. So, this mother-and-daughter team experimented with malunggay to remove the bitter taste in the brew and managed to patent the result. Their concoction is now sold under the label Sun Angel Malunggay Herb Tea and lactating mothers aren’t singled out as the main target market.

Like I said, there had been a lot of raves from abroad. So, mother and daughter were not the only ones thinking along the lines of making money out of the lowly malunggay. Brace yourselves because I am about to quote from an even more dramatic and eyebrow-raising article (“Japanese trader develops tea from malunggay leaves” in Sun Star Cebu Sept. 16, 2006).

“A Japanese businessman has discovered the medicinal value of the malunggay (kamunggay in Cebuano) plant and has developed a tea that he claims can cure many human diseases.

“Businessman Mitsuo Shoji said moringa tea, which is in the form of soluble powder made of pure malunggay leaves, is ‘rich in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals’.

“Malunggay is one of the most underestimated plants, [yet] it is one of the most nutritional [and] is also known as a miracle vegetable,” Shoji told Sun Star Cebu.

“The tea is the product of 30 years of research, which began after Shoji read a passage in the Bible about a “tree that cures all diseases.”

This Japanese businessman sells his malunggay tea at P16 per bag. His list of ailments it can cure, plus the supposed anti-aging effects, makes it seem like a fountain of youth and immortality drug rolled into one.

Personally, I only know that drinking malunggay tea truly does something to blood sugar. In the hospital after my gall bladder surgery a month-and-a-half ago, my blood sugar level was being closely monitored. I had memorized the time when my blood would be taken and I would drink a cup of malunggay tea an hour before the tests. It worked without fail. Of course, it is also possible that my blood sugar level had, in fact, normalized by then and the malunggay tea drinking was just a happy coincidence.

I don’t expect miracles from any tea I drink. I like malunggay tea because no preservatives are added. For that reason alone, I’d recommend it to my friends. In contrast, go and check your boxes of tea bags–most brands list ingredients I can’t even pronounce and they suspiciously sound like chemical preservatives and enhancers to me. Those, I’d recommend to my enemies.

The preceding article is republished from Manila Standard Today.

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