Today’s lunch was a heavy nasi lemak with all the side dishes for the family. Usually, after a heavy meal, I would drink a cup of Chinese tea to help with the digestion and right now, I have beside me a hot cup of Chinese Green Tea, which I am slowly sipping and enjoying every bit of its “golden” taste.
I have many types of tea at home – Earl Grey from the UK, Cameronian Boh Tea (locally produced tea), 22-year old Pu Erh Tea from China (the older the Pu Erh tea, the more expensive and smoother tasting), 10-year old Pu Erh, Chinese Green Tea and Japanese Green Tea. It all depends on my mood and on the occasion for the selection of tea.
The Chinese and the Japanese have been drinking teas for thousands of years. My grandparents and parents would drink tea all day long. There would be a teapot and a teacup beside them at home. It is believed that teas can help to “wash down” the oils in our digestive system. In Chinese restaurants during banquets when prawns are served, there will be bowl of light tea for us to remove the oil from our fingers if we had used our fingers to shell the prawns. These days, there are many “tea houses” that sells a variety of teas from China, with exquisite tea sets to make the art of drinking tea a great experience, just like the art and ritual of drinking Japanese tea.
Chinese teas are made from a variety of plants for a variety of reasons. Chrysanthemum flower tea is one very common type. Drunk with meals it helps to aid digestion, especially of greasy foods. It is also commonly taken to help strengthen the lungs, relieve head congestion (tension headaches) and balance the “yangness” or “heatiness” in our body. When made from fresh flowers, the flowers can be applied to the eyes to relieve dryness and itching. In China, chrysanthemum tea is now being recommended for office workers exposed to Video Display Terminals (VDTs). To make this healthy tea – to a teapot that can contain 500 ml of water – add 2 tbsp of chrysanthemum bud tea, 2 tbsp of Chinese wolfberries (gei ji) and 3 slices of dried licourice (kam choe). Fill up with boiling hot water. Steep for 5 minutes before drinking. When teapot is empty, pour hot water again for a second round.
Chrysanthemum Bud Tea
Recently, I met a former colleague, who has retired from a senior management position and I was surprised that he look noticeably slimmer than his usual chubby self. Knowing that he is not the type to go on diet, I asked him what his secret to his weight loss was – he said he picked up the habit of drinking Chinese tea with his meals every day! According to a news article at WIFR.com, Dan Rose lost 40 pounds over a period of 2 years. The only lifestyle change that he has made was to drink Chinese Green Tea everyday and his new routine appears to be working very effectively for him.
Loose Green Tea Leaves
But what does the Green Tea has over the other beverages? Scientists believe that Green Tea has EGCG and catechins, a powerful anti-oxidant, known to increase metabolism (which in turn burns fat), prevents blood clots and lowers cholesterol. All teas in general have been found to relax, relieve anxiety (don’t want to do those tedious house chores? Have a cup of tea and see how you feel half an hour later! )
Now, before you rush off and buy lots of Chinese tea to drink, I must warn you that there are some side effects to drinking Chinese tea. For the non-seasoned tea drinkers, it may cause insomnia, especially if you drink tea within 6 hours of your bedtime, because tea contains caffeine also. I have many friends who take great pleasure in the art of drinking tea – they would have tea drinking sessions after dinner all the way til bedtime and they have no trouble falling asleep….but it takes 2 months to get to such a stage! For some with sensitive stomach, the Green Tea may be a bit harsh on the stomach causing gastric pains and heartburns. Also, please drink the teas in moderation and they should not replace your water intake.
Personally, I love the smoother tasting Pu Erh teas from the Yunnan province in China and this type of tea can range from a few years old to many years old. The older the better, but it will cost more. The Pu Erh teas are fermented, and therefore, they are easy to store for a long time. They are usually found in hard pressed, round blocks.
Compressed Pu Erh Blocks
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, drinking Oolong (fermented) teas like Pu Erh Teas have better medicinal and health benefits than Green Tea because they are not as “cooling” or “yin” on the body system, and Pu Erh teas are more soothing and “neutral” instead because they are cooked and fermented.
Drinking Chinese tea is different than Western teas. No sugar is added and the tea leaves or tea bags can be “re-used” for another round or two, i.e. simply add more almost boiling hot water and we have another pot or cup of weaker tea to drink. But both the types of teas are just as enjoyable and relaxing. Pu Erh teas are more earthy in flavour, whilst the Green Teas are more aromatic.
Try a cup of tea and see for yourself – take some time out from whatever you are doing, observe how you are feeling in your mind (and body as well)….then go make yourself a cup of hot tea. Have a small sip of tea, keep the tea in your mouth………savour its taste, and then swallow. Good, ey?
Just relax, put your feet up in a comfortable place, and do what you love to do to relax…watch some movies, read a book or just look at the scenery outside your house. Half an hour later, carefully observe how you feel, especially mentally…..you will notice that you are more relaxed, your mind is clear and not as heavy as before…
Happy Tea Drinking!