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  • Writer's pictureNadav Biran

Drinking Hot Tea in Summer

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

tea leaves harvest

The thought of drinking hot drinks during summer, like hot tea, coffee or a bowl of soup, evokes in many of us a daunting contrast, whether we will get sweat and too hot. In China, as well as in other East Asian countries, drinking beverages at high temperatures all year round is totally normal. Moreover, certain drinks are drunk hot on purpose. So which drinks should be drank hot while it's hot out there, and why?

If we could go back in time to a few hundred years right into the ancient summer kitchens of our ancestors, we probably would not have discovered popsicle sticks, ice creams and smoothies. Not long before human invented the freezer and filled it with frozen goodies for the summer, people all around the world had to find available solutions to cool their body.

In Israel today, as in most Western countries, there is a sensational approach that dictates our life quality. Conventional medicine, which has taught us to fight against symptoms of diseases instead of their cause, is the main symptom of that conception of life. Holistic healing methods from the far east, on the other hand, are based on different approaches, including more energetic and sensory systems. In yoga, for example, breathing and the flow of Prana (Qi in Chinese medicine) will stream to different parts of our body to heal it, while a doctor will advice taking pills.

As in medicine so is the weather, perceived in an intuitive way, as we are "programmed" how to distinguish between hot and cold. What is hidden from us is that there are foods and beverages that can cool our body, even if consumed at a hot temperature, and vice versa. According to Chinese medicine, every food has a genetics (or energetics) that dictates how it affects our body energetically. The same genetics divides foods into cold, cool, neutral, hot and warm. For example, ginger will warm us whether we consume it cold or hot, while a tomato will cool our body.

As for tea, in China everyone knows there is tea to drink in the winter, tea to drink in the summer and neutral tea that can be drunk all year round. For example, dark teas such as red tea (known as black tea), which undergo a significant chemical change in the process of oxidation or fermentation, have a warm to hot tendency and are therefore more suitable for drinking in cool weather conditions. Light teas such as green tea, which are quickly processed and left closer to the fresh tea leaves after harvest, have a cool tendency and therefore more suitable for drinking in the summer days. Whereas white tea, which is known to have a perfect balance between yin and yang, will usually be neutral and suitable for drinking during the transition seasons and throughout the year.

Nature also completes the year cycle for us by making each type of tea ready for harvest just on time for consumption, although the cultivation (domestication) of the tea plant by man is a factor, therefore there is a correlation between the tea making process and the consumption season. For example, young tea leaves intended for making light teas are usually harvested in early spring so they remain fresh throughout the summer, as green tea is the tea with the shortest shelf life. In contrast, Wulong tea (Oolong) is recommended for drinking in the transition seasons, and is harvested mostly in autumn and spring.

Food energetics is an important tier in Chinese medicine, and one of many tools in treating and changing habits, but it is clearly not an iron rule. Chinese tea has other qualities and health indicators with the help of which it is possible to understand and be even more precise which tea is suitable for each one, under which conditions and times. The most basic and available tool in our arsenal is the ability to feel and listen to our body. Each person has a different balance between their own body systems and taste, and is therefore attracted to the taste and sensation of tea of one kind or another.


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