Chinese Medicine (CM) places a great deal of emphasis on the energy of a season. Health can be obtained by living in harmony with a season, and likewise disharmony with a season can lead to imbalance and health problems.
Yin and Yang are two fundamentals of life according to wisdom purported by CM in the earliest recorded texts, some 2000+ years ago. The Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperors Cannon of Internal Medicine) was a great book to describe the fundamental theories by which CM practitioners still abide by today. Think of the Yin-Yang symbol, (called the tai ji) This symbol portrays one half light and one half dark. The Yin-Yang concept shows how day turns to night, winter to summer, and here we can appreciate the seasonal flow – in winter things are inward, hibernating and retreating. In sleep and retreat we rejuvenate and repair.
The opposite of winter is summer so once summer is upon us in its fullness the weather is HOT. Heat in the environment makes Yang Qi flourish. Yang Qi is the hot energy that flows through our bodies. This excess energy becomes evident as it moves around and pushes itself to the exterior of the body, resulting in symptoms like headaches or a red face.
Sweating helps to ensure the body does not retain environmental heat, as does enjoying cooling herbal tisanes. The Tea Centre’s new Chinese Herbalist Range offers Summer Tea — a blend of herbs conducive to balancing excess heat and restoring energy levels on those particularly sluggish days.
CM rarely promotes drinking cold drinks, so whilst Summer Tea does make a lovely iced tea, this is a blend mainly recommended to be enjoyed as a warm cuppa. Studies have found that hot drinks are an expedient way to encourage sweating, which in turn cools down the body (as long as the sweat is allowed to evaporate by wearing non-restrictive clothing).
Summer Tea was designed to help the body adjust to the heat of the summer season. Cooling herbs like Bo He Chinese mint and spearmint are primary ingredients that assist with ridding the body of unwanted heat during summer.
Other ingredients in Summer Tea include:
Echinacea: Though not classically a Chinese herb, we can still understand its nature according to CM. Within this system, it has the property of cooling and the flavour of bitter. Bitter flavours in foods are often associated with a heat-clearing use. In summer time it makes sense to consume foods with cooling properties and bitter flavours. Whilst the idea of bitter may not sound appealing, these flavour elements are usually offset by a blend’s accompanying herbs. Echinacea pairs well with both the spearmint and peppermint, promoting the cooling action and a more desirable taste.
Ginger: This is a time-honoured food and herb of CM. Because of its warm and soothing nature, one might wonder if this is an ideal ingredient to enjoy in the heat of summer. A good herbal tea has a balance to it. Not all flavours and properties need to be the same for one overall flavour or property to prevail. In Summer Tea, ginger provides a balance to the other cooling and bitter flavoured herbs. Being a dried root, Ginger takes more time to infuse in the tea. In the first one or two infusions you may notice a very minty taste; as the herbs continue to steep the infusion of ginger will increase over time.
Siberian Ginseng: As a natural stimulant, this ingredient is applied for its ability to assist with mental alertness and increasing energy levels.
Lemongrass: Another ingredient that is considered warming, lemongrass is also described as pungent or acrid. In the realms of CM, this property relates to opening, spreading, or moving Qi (energy). Moderate amounts of pungent are good for moving energy. In our diets, too much pungent (like in a hot curry) will move so much that it promotes sweating. Lemongrass is a great food that can be used in a tea form to generate that “get moving” function that comes from the pungent.
So get those body temps down and those energy levels up! If you don’t have time for hot and lazy summer days, then you need to be sipping Summer Tea. Try some today.
Courtesy of Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Marie Hopkinson