Tea as a Way of Life
There are a lot of literary works, poetry, and scientific, medical and philosophical essays dedicated to this noble beverage. I don’t wanna add to this pile but just share a few inner feelings of mine. When talking about tea I am very biased. I love its gentle influence on the senses. As a European, I used to drink just black tea with lemon and sugar or milk all my childhood. However, in the 90ties there was a massive wave of establishing teahouses in Japanese and Chinese style all over my hometown and I have discovered the real poetry of tea drinking. Gradually I came to the conclusion, that you don’t have to study chado (Japanese tea ceremony) or know the meaning and the history of tea drinking in China to appreciate the precious moment with a cup of tea.
There are many western studies about the beneficial impact of tea drinking on human life. You may come across the opinion that the longevity of Japanese people is caused by tea consumption. There are lots of dietary supplements containing green tea promising weight loss and much more… I’m not saying that they are all crap. If we follow the common western way of thinking, tea really contains a lot of beneficial compounds. So why this so-called elixir of life doesn’t seem to have the same effect in Europe as in Japan. Let’s put aside our knowledge about all those antioxidative tea polyphenols contained in tea for now. This information is the result of laboratory analyzes but does not really say much about the influence on our body and spirit. The same is true for all foods and drinks. No food is a mere set of components.
Traditional Chinese medicine, as well as Ayurveda, Tibetan medicine or medicine practised by Native Americans perceive food as a carrier of a certain quality; or energy if you want.
I have created this blog because I believe that understanding food as a whole is more useful than chemical analysis. However, it’s also important to take into account the atmosphere in which we eat, if we want to really appreciate the taste and the potential therapeutic effect of our diet. As you may have experienced your selves many times, food can be extremely tasty and healthy, but if you get upset while eating, it’s somehow useless. You feel like you’ve swallowed a stone. Same with tea. If we want to experience its subtle energy, we must create the conditions within ourselves and our surroundings that allow it to manifest.
Chinese and Japanese Tea Ceremony with their spiritual and mystical undertones are the symbols of such an appropriate environment. However, there is no need for a formal visit to the tea house. It would be enough to sit down for a while in the middle of the day and enjoy a cup. In the early days of samurais, they put off their swords and rank as they entered the tea hut. Perhaps we should try the same and put aside our worries for a short while. Maybe only then we will feel the true quintessence of the healing power of this drink.
This post should probably end in here, but I have to remain faithful to TCM, so I can’t omit the properties of tea from this point of view. Green tea is of a cooling nature, has a bitter taste and belongs to the element of fire. It acts diuretically, helps digestion and cleanses the mind. Tea can be used against constipation, relieves headaches, clears harmful heat and can be used in sunstroke.
Significantly relieves cystitis. I was personally convinced about it several times. For people suffering from cold symptoms or for those with weakened digestion, a slice of ginger or other warming spices could be added to tea. It should be noted that overconsumption of tea could weaken the stomach and kidneys. Drinking green tea should also be avoided if you are taking ginseng or if you eat a lot of turnips. (In fact, I personally do not know anyone who would have such an extreme interest in this vegetable.) Black teas or Pu-er tea have a warmer to neutral character. It depends on the type of tea and its processing.