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!
A popular request I get is related to the medicinal use of tea. I’m finally writing this article after discussing this topic with various Chinese friends who have nearly 20 years of experience in the tea business. After discussions with them and other trusted tea connoisseurs I’m ready to post on this topic. I suggest reading a previous post about understanding the world of tea in order to get more familiar with the major varieties of tea.
You’ll find that two major substances in tea do most of the leg work: epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and polyphenol. Remember: I’m not a doctor and the following is a collection of information told by friends, which I’ve cross-referenced with scientific studies. Continue reading Medicinal Use of Tea
Another popular root that is common in the Chinese diet, and many other Asian diets, is Ginseng. In fact, American Ginseng is one of the most popular in the world. I even see it in small local markets here in Zhuhai. I see it popularly used out here in soups, often with other Chinese herbs, chicken bones, Gou Ji berries, and Zao Zi. This kind of soup can be purchased warm and ready to eat at any Fujian style dumpling shop. (I’ll post a simple recipe for making this at home soon.)
Ginseng is also consumed by steeping some dried slices of it in hot water, like tea. I sometimes do this before going to bed in order to reduce “Qi” in the body. I also suggest this drink as a replacement for evening teas or coffee.
Here is some health-related information from Wikipedia, and sourced therein:
“Both American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) roots are taken orally as adaptogens [a product that increases the body’s resistance to stress], aphrodisiacs [you can guess…], nourishing stimulants, and in the treatment of type II diabetes, as well as sexual dysfunction in men.
Other information: The English word ginseng derives from the Chinese term rénshēn (simplified: 人参; traditional: 人蔘), literally “man root” (referring to the root’s characteristic forked shape, resembling the legs of a man).”
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.
Traditionally, in England, tea time was used as a way to keep the Queen Mum from feeling sleepy in the afternoon. (But you don’t need to supplement your tea time with crumpets!) Just make sure you drink tea after breakfast or lunch.
Tea is a stimulant and if taken in the evening it is almost certain to keep you up at night. Eating and drinking healthy shouldn’t cause insomnia, so don’t watch your evening program with tea or coffee… try warm water instead.
More recently I’ve been creating my own stomach-soothing beverage. I buy fresh turmeric root at Whole Foods and wash it off really well. Then steep the root for a few minutes before filling the cup completely with hot water. To learn more about healthy, natural teas just visit this article: Learn to Brew 5 Fresh and Healthy Teas at Home
Are you a zombie without coffee most mornings? When I was studying business at SNHU, I used to be too. I craved coffee with milk and some sugar. For some reason, I crave tea now. Its the flavor I guess. It’s not so harsh that you need milk to “smooth” it out.
Learning to enjoy drinking tea is like learning how to enjoy beer. When I was a teenager I truly thought that beer was someone’s clever idea of making me drink skunk pee. (And charging me for it!) Over time, we mature enough to really “appreciate” beer, wine, liquor, etc. Tea is no different, but it is actually BETTER for you and there is more Caffeine than coffee. (You can decaffeinate tea by steeping the leaves well and draining first.)
By the way, I suggest using real tea leaves instead of bag-tea. You know those felt bags, thread, and staple were manufactured cheaply in a factory somewhere in the world and probably aren’t very healthy. Quality, loose leaf tea will sink to the bottom of a glass, so there’s no need to worry about spitting bits of leaves everywhere. (Enjoy Responsibly!)