The sky-blue label affixed to the canister of Get Clean poses many questions. On a grumpy weekday morning, it sounds like the gosh-dang Inquisition: "Had too much of a good thing?" it asks. "Feeling out of balance, a bit heavy or puffy?" Yes, yes, yes and yes. It's winter, post-holiday, and we've got crusty eyes, a gooey mouth and feel like we've been dipped in chicken fat, OK? We're in dire need of some scrubbing bubbles to swab our veins and push the dirt out of the pores a combination drinkable spa and liquid Betty Ford Clinic. Make it warm but not too, because we'll be guzzling it.
"This gentle herbal blend," brags the label copy, "helps the body heal itself as it stimulates the liver*, one of our natural cleansing mechanisms." (*"This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.") Get Clean employs a handful of roots, leaves and seeds to do the dirty work: rooibos leaf, milk-thistle seed, Indian sarsaparilla root, dandelion root, chicory root, burdock root and red clover.
But what does it all mean? In a nutshell: Rooibos leaf is grown in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It's a caffeine-free antioxidant that, when dried and boiled, brews a nutty tea. South Africans mix it with milk and sugar. Milk-thistle seed is used to protect the liver from damage done to it by booze and bad blood. Cowboys chewed on sarsaparilla root in Western times; it is the original flavoring for root beer. Word is that it helps skin maladies and has been used as a syphilis treatment. Dandelion root is dandelion root. Chicory root serves as a natural laxative, and the Romans thought it an effective blood purifier. Burdock root apparently helps the scalp and strengthens the hair.
The end result? Let's do the math. Drop a bag into hot water, let it steep for seven minutes, and you'll be drinking a caffeine-free antioxidant that cleanses your liver, fights your ever-worsening syphilis, helps you poop, purifies your blood and strengthens your Sampson-like curly locks. Not a bad deal for 27 cents (a 36-bag canister costs $9.99 at the Clayton Straub's). Made by the Republic of Tea, Get Clean is part of the company's clumsily named Be Well Red Teas brand, all of which contain as rooibos leaf as their core ingredient (Get Lost for weight control, Get A Grip for PMS/menopause, Get It Going for regularity, etc.).
The best part? With all those good-for-you ingredients, you'd expect it to taste like wet saddle. But no, it's frickin' exquisite. All of those roots and leaves combine to create a tea with the strong flavor of almond and vanilla, with a back end of hazelnut. It's naturally sweet, and mixed with a little milk it tastes like something you'd drink because it's bad for you, not something you'd drink to wash away the bad-good stuff you've been drinking.