All throughout China, Taiwan, and other parts of East Asia, the bubble tea trend has reached its peak, with crowds of youth lining up for a big cup of the ice-cold tea beverage. Yet we still find small groups of elderly folk sitting somewhere shaded in a park, enjoying hot gong fu style tea.
For the westerner it is counterintuitive, to be drinking hot tea for hours on a hot, muggy day. Many of the older people, however, know the secrets of Chinese medicine and know exactly which beverages to drink in the summer to keep the body cool.
First, What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Chinese medicine came out of China and has existed for over 2500 years. In its entirety, it combines drinking various herbs and teas, acupuncture, massage, and exercise like qi gong. Chinese medicine targets the origin of the disease in the body and implements a long holistic method of healing, instead of a quick cure. An essential part of Chinese medicine is qi (energy) and the heating (yang) and cooling (yin) properties of foods and drinks.
Heating foods balance the over-accumulation of cold and dampness in our bodies, and on the opposite spectrum cooling ones balance the heat (these do not necessarily relate to the temperature of the food, but more so their properties). In general, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that consuming too many icy or raw foods has adverse effects on our body’s well-being.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Tea
Pu-erh is one of the most common teas found in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). It is widely used to drive toxins out of our body. It is a cooling tea (yin), which means it helps to balance the heat (yang) in our bodies. An excess of heat in our body usually results in inflammation. Also, in the hot summer months, it is easier to accumulate excess heat, especially for younger people.
What Gives A Tea Its Cooling Properties?
The cooling properties of a specific tea will be closely related to the amount of oxidation the tea leaves underwent.
Since green teas have some of the lowest amounts of oxidation, they are often considered some of the teas with the most cooling properties. Also, lightly oxidized oolongs like a refreshing and floral Tie Guan Yin also possess some cooling properties.
Black teas, on the other hand, have more heating qualities and may be a better choice for people who have accumulated too much dampness, or for drinking during the chilly winter months. Feeling a lack of energy is closely related to dampness and cold. Dark and robust oolongs, for example, one of our favorites — Da Hong Pao, are also suitable for this purpose.
Drinking hot tea during intense heat is not only a common practice among China’s elderly, but also very commonplace in countries like Malaysia, India, Egypt, and Morocco, to name a few.
Our top 3 cooling teas for the hot weather:
For those who still prefer something cold and refreshing, cold-brewing tea is our top recommendation for making tea cold and preserving the biggest amount of nutrients in the tea. Read more here.