What could be nicer to have on a hot summer day than some delicious ice cream? I say, hot tea! Here’s why I’m not crazy.
If you enjoy gardening, you know that the trees and the plants can survive the harsh winter, especially in cold places like Ottawa, this is because their roots are deep in the warm ground. As the sun comes to the north in the spring, the surface of the ground slowly thaws and the warmth gradually comes back. Together with this come the new sprouts and blossoms. We human beings are part of nature and also reflect this change. In the winter, our yang retreats to the center of the body which is why people usually have a better appetite in the winter. While in the summer, the yang goes out to the surface of our body. The skin becomes more busy than other times of the year: the yang opens up the pores so the body vents better, we sweat a little bit more frequently so the body can cool down faster on hot days, we may have some rashes appear as the skin is trying to push the toxic stuff out of the body that has been accumulated in the past year. In old times, summer was not pleasant. Without ac and refrigeration, people basically had to take whatever summer had for them. The hot and humid weather kills the appetite. Sometimes it is hot during night which makes it impossible to have a good night sleep. Moreover, it also comes with extra visits to the washroom. It is indeed a “bitter summer” as the old chinese saying goes. And by the end of the summer, you notice that you’ve lost 10 lbs without realizing it at all. With the first cool breeze of autumn, everything seems to pick up – better appetite, better sleep. Your body automatically starts to store energy for the upcoming winter. This is a “put-in and take-out” natural cycle of the body which is aligned with nature’s changes. Yes, summer is the natural and free detox program for the body!
So what would happen if you insist on filling your body with iced water? Does it help the body cool down? Not really. The body’s natural reaction to heat is sweating to bring the heat out. But after iced water the yang has to retreat to the center to warm up the freezing cold stomach, so the sweat stops. On one hand this instant temperature drop in the stomach sends out the message that it is cold, the body needs more yang to keep the body warm. On the other hand, the body’s natural cooling system sweat is stopped because the yang is focusing on warming up the stomach. Simply speaking, drinking iced water to cool down creates more heat in the body, and without the proper venting – the sweat – the body will crave for more iced water to cool it down.
That’s not the worst of it. When yang is busy generating sweat to cool the body, the lack of yang in the digestive system has already become weakened. Now that glass of iced water is like attacking a city without guards. It damages the digestive system itself. That’s why there are vegetarians who still have high cholesterol or those who control their diet and exercise a lot but cannot lose weight. The damage caused by having freezing drinks is less likely to cause instant sickness, however, it is one of the important causes of mysterious diseases that people can’t really explain, such as obesity, allergy, asthma, uterine diseases, etc.
So a cup of warm tea is actually perfect for summer. Not only is the warmth of the tea good for your body, it helps to get the sweat out, but most teas (except black tea and dark tea) have cooling characteristics. In other words, tea cools you down. As for me, I enjoy some hot tea before my mediation in the morning. After pushing some sweat out by drinking hot tea, my mediation is more like a conversation with my body. The tea increases my sensitivity, and I can feel every inch of my body better. I also love to have some hot tea after my yoga practice to replenish myself and keep the moderate sweat going for a bit longer. If you really cannot tolerate a warm drink during the summer, room temperature tea is not bad either.
Sometimes to be healthy is not to add more stuff to your life, on the contrary, it is to reduce. Reducing those unhealthy habits, and living a simple and natural life could be a good start.