Cooling Down with Hot Tea (?!)
Drinking hot tea to cool down in the summer sounds so paradoxical right?
When the temperature rises, and it becomes that time of year where you are always ducking into the shade, wiping sweat, and pining for air-conditioned comfort it seems like obvious instinct to reach for the coldest drink possible.
In China, however, many people are sipping hot tea to cool down. The tea of choice to drink on a hot summer day is usually some hot green tea, like our Mao Jian Green Tea, because it is believed to have “cooling” effects.
So what is it that Chinese people sipping hot tea know that we don’t know?
Well it goes back to the ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concepts of food as medicine which can be divided into two categories: 上火“heating” foods and 取火“cooling” foods.
上火“heating” foods and 取火“cooling” foods is an all-encompassing dialectic where all foods and drinks can be categorized in one or the other.
The category of “heating” vs “cooling” isn’t based on the actual temperature of the food or drink, but rather the properties of the food or drink and how it affects your body.
To explain this ancient concept of health, wellness, and healing my friend Heidi Lovie—an acupuncturist and an expert on ancient healing for modern living —breaks it down for us:
“Asian medicine looks specifically at how foods metabolically interact with the body – whether they generate an overall experience of hot or cold.
Even if a jalapeño pepper is taken directly out of the fridge, you’ll still experience the taste as hot and spicy – you may even turn a little red and sweat. Mint is super cooling – if you’ve ever had an Altoid or mint gum, you’ve experienced the cooling sensation it can bring to your mouth.
The raw natural form of tea is classified as very cold – stories tell of ancient medical sages using the raw tealeaf to break a fever and fight infection.
Because green and white teas are minimally processed, they maintain their natural cooling properties.”
So hot green tea, even though it is prepared hot (but not too hot, remember) is considered a cooling drink.
But seriously, try it. Even though it is hot outside, there are some beads of sweat on your forehead, and you just want to sit inside a refrigerator, brew up some hot green tea like our Mao Jian Green Tea and sip it.
Observe how you feel, slowly take in how it affects your physiology, and delight in how refreshing a hot cup of tea can be on a hot day!
And if you tried it and it doesn’t quite work for you the way it worked for ancient Chinese and contemporary older Chinese people, than by all means cold brew yourself a refreshing iced tea.
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