Green Tea To-Go!

Green Tea To-Go

All of my guests who have visited China notice the basics: delicious food, hospital people, beautiful landscapes, questionable hygiene, and ancient customs. One aspect of Chinese culture I often get asked about is tea culture. One specific part of the tea culture has been left untouched on AL.ME for years: Green Tea To-Go! So today I finally weigh in on an ancient custom that has been born through thousands of years of medical practice and remains a cornerstone in modern Chinese culture. Continue reading Green Tea To-Go!

Fire Cupping and Back Scraping Could Save Your Life!

Fire Cupping (bá guàn)

Back in 2005 I thought I was going to die… literally, it was the worst Flu I had ever experienced. Maybe it was from the new environment in China, or perhaps it was a random winter bug! No matter where it came from, it kept me in bed very achy muscles. I couldn’t get out of bed to visit the bathroom- it was that bad. I quickly decided that I would need help or else I’d be a goner. At the time I was dating a Vietnamese girl who was studying at the Southern Yangzte University of Wuxi, which is what I called home for the first month I was in China. After a distress call she immediately came to my apartment, flipped me face down, and started scraping my back with a washed coin. She poured White Flower Oil (白花油) all over my back during this process. It sucked. It burned. And I could be forgiven for thinking that she was helping the flu kill me even faster! Continue reading Fire Cupping and Back Scraping Could Save Your Life!

My Journey with Chinese Chiropractic (Part 1)

My problem area

Although holistic medicine is generally frowned upon in the US, I have grown up with a chiropractor since birth. Dr. Henry is one of the greatest male figures in my life and I make a point of it to see him every time I go back to the US. His practice is not mystics or voodoo; it’s purely anatomical brilliance.

With a painful, achy shoulder for nearly two months, I decided my problem was not just about sore muscles after some strenuous upper-body workouts. My sleeping was also effected because my posture caused continual pain in the same area. Whatever the reason, I felt it needed to be checked out by a chiropractor rather than a general practitioner.

When I finally got around to visiting the People’s Hospital of Zhuhai, I was prepared for anything. I had never seen a chiropractor in China before, but I was determined to experience it and make some comparisons. After all, Dr. Henry’s practice stems from Chinese medicine. Getting in line was easy; as usual, it only cost 4RMB ($0.70) to register. When I got into the doctor’s office I found a vacant stool next to his desk, which I decided was where visitors were expected to squat on. Actually, it kept my back quite straight during the consultation. After I described my condition, he walked around me and grabbed my neck bones with his left hand. His right hand began to massage the sides, perhaps in order to check for dislocation or abnormalities. When he was finished, he suggested a medical massage and an x-ray.

The People's Hospital of Zhuhai

I laughed a little at the x-ray and began to make my case against it. Dr. Henry would never require me to get an x-ray for this kind of discomfort. (Maybe it was just offered to make me feel better… who knows.) When the only option was a “massage”, I felt a natural flight-response pull me towards the door. I tried to make it clear that my chiropractor in the US would never prescribe a massage for this kind of bone-related issue. However, this Chinese doctor couldn’t imagine any other way of dealing with it. Continue reading My Journey with Chinese Chiropractic (Part 1)

Chinese Black Beans

Chinese Black Bean
Chinese Black Beans

I wouldn’t really call these “Black Beans”, but they are black and from the bean variety… so, there you go. Actually, these are Fermented Soya Beans and require a little work to get ready, but are a nice savory addition to Chinese dishes. I bought my first box of 豆豉 “Dou Chi”, while preparing Ginger Fish with a leader at my university here in Guangdong province.

If you want to buy authentic beans, look for this package:

Yang Jiang Dou Chi
Yang Jiang Dou Chi

How to prepare: Basically, consider these black beans as raw materials that have residue from the fermentation process. They are dirty and need a little washing. Rinse them through warm water and let them sit in a bowl while preparing the other ingredients for your dish.

Read about Japanese “Nattō” on wikipedia, which is a watery version and consumed as a breakfast food. Here are some highlights of the medicinal benefits:  Reducing the likelihood of various types of blood clots; Preventing or treating “amyloid-type” diseases such as Alzheimer’s[*2009]; Due to large amounts of vitamin K it can assist with bone formation and prevent osteoporosis; It may have a cholesterol-lowering affect[*2006]

Understanding The World of Tea

Is Oolong tea a kind of green tea? Is Long Jing a kind of tea or a brand?  Which one does what for you? These questions have been on my brain longer than my stay here in China (since 2005). After all, tea is the most consumed drink in the world after water. There are certainly more than a few reasons for that! After discussing the specifics with Chinese friends, tea aficionados, and tea shop owners, I can safely say that the mystery around tea is not so complicated after all. Let’s start generally and get more specific as we go along!

One Plant: All (leaf) tea comes from the same species of plant. Just like apples all come from apple trees… Varieties exist among all species and those varieties include:  Green, Oolong, Black, White, Yellow,and Pu’er. Processing and growing techniques are other ways that teas get their distinctive colors, flavors, and characteristics. For specifics on processing, check out the image on the right. The following disambiguations are listed from lighter to darker tea varieties.

 

Continue reading Understanding The World of Tea