A recent post on Warming the Lower Jiao through food energetics and temperature was one that was written for the British Acupuncture Council Magazine.

Feedback from the editor was one of surprise - ’so this month’s article is about food not tea?’.Well…as Chinese Medicine practitioners tea and food are one and the same.

Methods of cooking and processing affect the energetic nature of our foods. The method of processing, brewing and serving teas affects their energetic nature too.

Cooling versus Warming the Stomach

Given that the article focussed on keeping the Stomach warm with foods and tea - for balance I wanted to write about Cold and Cooling.

Hopefully the rain will soon pass and summer temperature's will soon start to ramp up . For patients feeling the cold it will be a welcome relief as the sun penetrates the bones.

For patients with Heat patterns any heat waves (we can hope) are likely to be unwelcome and uncomfortable as the mercury rises. So how can we work with tea alongside our treatments to counter these effects?


Green Tea Cooling in Summer
Summer green tea in a temple garden in Kyoto

Tea Gardens

Across China as temperatures rise in early summer people move to drinking this year’s fresh green tea harvest. Likewise, if you stroll through a temple garden in a sticky Kyoto summer you’ll be encouraged to take respite in a tea house enjoy green teas like sencha or matcha to cool you down.

Even when it is served hot, green tea is refreshing and cooling. This Cooling nature of green tea is simply taken for granted and well appreciated throughout Asia.

Tea Folklore

The most common folklore around this is that seemingly all Chinese women know not to drink green tea whilst they are menstruating. I recently asked a Chinese friend why and she couldn’t tell me - “we just don’t do it” she said. Which gives an indication of how folk knowledge and Chinese medicine knowledge blend  - it’s just common sense - which is the basis of Chinese medicine.

Things aren’t so different here in the UK. I’m not sure how many GPs would care if you went out on a cold, windy day with wet hair, but people with common sense seem to instinctively avoid doing it. Probably through bitter experience or folk knowledge from their parents, rather than a deep understanding of the Shang Han Lun or Wind-Cold Invasion.

Shen Nong drinking teaShen Nong - the father of Chinese herbal medicine - taking tea

Green Tea to clear Heat? Not so fast...

So…we should all recommend our patients with Heat patterns drink green tea, right?

Well…not quite.

As with all folklore, once we dig a little deeper we realise that common sense, by definition, lacks the necessary specificity to be useful in all circumstances. Not all green teas will have the same effect on the body and different brewing techniques also affect the cha qi or energetic effects of the tea.

If you’d like to learn more about this, have a look at our article on the energetic differences between our 3 green teas - Jade Stream, Thousand Petal Rose and Half Moon Jasmine.