Tea Taboos

"Tea: the cure for hundreds of illnesses". Previously we have mentioned a range of tea's nutritional and medicinal values that benefit the human physiology. Word on its miraculous efficacies has become widespread too. However, the wrong way of drinking tea and excessive consumption can result in negative side effects as well. How do you drink tea in a more logical and healthy manner? Does tea have its taboos?

Excessive tea drinking and inappropriate brewing methods will lead to weakened kidneys, stomach discomfort and appetite loss. In addition, it is important to choose the tea that suits one's physical condition. Just as tea can quench thirst, it can also induce thirst. Occasionally, after drinking too much tea, we still feel thirsty; this could be caused by the excessive consumption of unsuitable tea products. It is true for many aspects of our daily lives, not just tea drinking. Without proper restraint, even excessive intake of nutrients that normally provide healthy benefits will result in harmful and undesirable effects; "extreme actions can produce adverse effects".

Tea taboos mostly revolve around its `cold' character. Cold erodes heat (yang), so tea is better drunk hot. A tea drinker judges the tea quality based on a hot drink; once the tea cools, its nutrients would have evaporated along with the vapour, its essence all but gone. In Chinese tea culture, tea is typically prepared to be drunk hot. Sometimes tea is prepared by "brewing", a method used mainly for oolong tea. The tea is brewed in hot water at a temperature of nearly 100 C. To maintain the tea's temperature, scalding water is poured on the outer part of the teapot; pot warming is an important aspect of Oolong tea art. Due to its cold character, tea must be drunk hot. Drinking cold tea causes the spleen and stomach to cool; those with a weak spleen and stomach will experience abdominal distention.

With regards to tea's healing effects, we have mentioned that tea can help with digestion and weight loss. That is why tea drinkers typically drink tea after meals; it can also reduce the lipids and sugar in blood. Drunk on an empty stomach, especially for those with low blood sugar, tea can lead to tea drunkenness
(i.e. dizziness), weak legs and hunger pangs; however, the abdomen would not feel hunger. Therefore, when drinking tea, have some snacks ready to allay tea drunkenness.

In tea drinking, the timing is also quite important. Modern nutritional studies have found that drinking tea at mealtimes can have an impact on the iron in our food. The magnitude of the impact depends on the individual's diet; it will vary depending on whether you're a meat-eater or vegetarian. In addition, drinking too much tea before meals will dilute the sensitivity of the salivary and gastric juices as well as affect digestion and absorption capacity. All factors considered, we can conclude that tea indeed brings about more good than harm to our physical and mental health; nevertheless, how we consume it also determines if we can fully optimize its benefits.

To deepen our understanding of tea and health, we continue to conduct in-depth analysis on its uses and benefits. In addition to the physical and mental health benefits of tea-drinking, leftover tea leaves can be usefully incorporated into our daily lives as follow:

1) After eating onions, garlic and other smelly food, chew on dry tea leaves to get rid of the oral odour.

Generally speaking, in the Chinese style of tea drinking, the beverage has gone through several stages - picking and consuming fresh leaves, raw tea drinking, tea boiling, tea sampling and tea brewing. To this day, China's ethnic minorities practice ancient tea customs like chewing raw tea leaves. Other ways of consuming tea include: adding salt to tealeaves to make pickled tea cakes and sweetmeats, mixing tealeaves with rice and other condiments to make tea porridge, boiling the tender shoots of tea trees and drinking it like a beverage. Considerable data has shown that the subject of tea drinking, its contribution to human health, and the aspects of healthcare cover a broad area. The cultivation, production and consumption of tea has gone through several thousand years of history, a fact now confirmed by medical research and increasingly gaining credibility with people from all walks of lives. One of three major non-alcoholic beverages (tea, coffee, cocoa) that have taken the world by storm, tea is now an integral part of life. Further boosted by China's economic development in the last 20 years, the development of tea and tea art is in full swing. Within tea culture, tea art is a very important vehicle, both an elegant form of cultural leisure as well as the primary platform for the display of tealeaves and tea sets to the world.

Today, tea drinking has become a pleasurable ritual in everyday Chinese life. "There is mystery in tea, there are long days in a pot." In every corner of the earth, in cities or villages, at dinner parties, business negotiations, visitations and seminars, weddings, casual gatherings and cultural discussions, tea always adds to the joy and pleasure; drinking tea helps to link relationships, and alleviate worries. Drinking tea makes our lives more colorful, healthy and delightful. In life, to 'be able to drink good tea is a treasure, to `know how to drink good tea' is a blessing, and to 'enjoy good taste in life'. If you are a tea lover, whether you are feeling blue or happy, you can brew a pot of tea, sip in enjoyment and bask in the soothing tea fragrance; tea drinking affords you some pleasurable quiet moments away from the hustle and

bustle of this world. For non tea lovers, visit the website (www.itsmorethanasip.com) and

read the 'Tea & Health' information; from this basic knowledge of tea, you can then gain valuable insights into the pleasures of this lifelong journey.

Indeed, Chinese tea brings about many extraordinary health-building aspects to the human body and soul, while its

historical development reflects the unique cultural context of the times. The articles in the

Tea Culture Appreciation' series are intended to illustrate these advantages and viewpoints in simple, practical terms so that people understand the relationship between the forms and contents of tea and tea art, and acquire a balanced, holistic knowledge of Chinese tea culture.





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