Tea, coffee and TCM
In Chinese Medicine, we are all about warm drinks. As you may or may not know, this is because the body finds it easier (from a TCM perspective) to digest things that are already at a warm, body-friendly temperature. When we drink cold beverages, such as cold or icy water from the fridge, our body has to spend extra time warming this up, which uses more energy and slows digestion. Plus, drinking warm beverages is like an internal hug for your organs and their function!
But what are the benefits of different types teas? I’ve put a little list together of my personal favourites, and what I use them for with Chinese Medicine and research in mind: *
- Peppermint tea: has a cooling effect on Heat and Phlegm conditions. I love drinking this tea in times of anxiety or stress where I feel hot and overwhelmed (with palpitations and clamminess). I also enjoy it when my sinus is playing up, or tonsils are a bit sore and red. In modern times, peppermint tea is recognised for its antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral properties, as well as positive effect on the digestive tract.
- Green tea: has a cooling nature, which is great for relieving Heat. I drink green tea daily as it is not only delicious, but is great for busy, mental workers like me to reduce anxiety, while also benefitting mental function and memory. Most people know that green tea is high in antioxidants and lowers cholesterol- what’s not to love?
- Black tea: is known in Chinese Medicine for it’s gentle nature and ability to move Qi and harmonise the Stomach. This means having a cup of black tea is great when your tummy feels a little obstructed and sluggish.
- Fresh ginger tea: one of my favourite teas! Ginger is so warming and supportive for both our Qi and Yang, and helps to reduce feelings of nausea. I love drinking ginger tea throughout winter to keep me warm and cozy! Tip: dried ginger is more powerful and warming.
- Cinnamon tea: another lovely, strongly warming tea. It is great for those with Yang deficiency and cold in the body as it warms the channels strongly (great for cold hands and feet). It is packed full of antioxidants, has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects!
- Chrysanthemum tea: is great to drink when you are feeling a cold or flu coming on, or have blurry vision and/or red eyes. This is because chrysanthemum nourishes the Yin and fights off Wind and Heat in the upper body (cold and flus in TCM). I like to add in some dried goji berries if I’m drinking this for my eyes! Research supports the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of chrysanthemum, which aligns with the above TCM thinking.
- Licorice root tea: is a sweet little pick-me-up for when I’m feeling tired or weak and my digestive system is on the sluggish side. In TCM, licorice root is used in most herbal formulas to support digestion and strengthen the Qi. I wouldn’t recommend drinking this every day, and those with hypertension and nausea should avoid this herb.
What about coffee?
Coffee has a hot nature in Chinese Medicine, with a bitter and sweet flavour. These qualities mean that drinking coffee can provide the body with warmth, stimulate mental activity and the Heart. However, coffee is also a diuretic, which means that we will need to urinate more often. Many people with an underlying Qi or Yang deficiency, who may experience cold hands and feet, tiredness and dizziness will tend to drink coffee for it’s benefits on their energy and warmth. However, coffee begins to affect the body negatively in excess. The stimulant nature and heat of coffee, combined with its diuretic effect means that coffee can be quite drying for the body.
I usually recommend a limit of one coffee per day, followed by at least one glass of water to prevent drying out our Yin.
*This list is not medical advice, and teas should not replace proper medical care. This is simply a list of teas that I enjoy using, and you should consult your health care provider before adding these in to your diet excessively. Always opt for organic and pure teas!