If you have lived in China or interacted with the Chinese people, it is easy to note their habit of drinking hot water or tea with meals. Drinking of tea has been in the Chinese culture for so long as history suggests. However, questions have been raised about the hot water drinking habit during meals. This is yet to be answered, but a number of suggestions have been raised to answer the question about the Chinese culture of drinking hot water. Some argue that it is a practice that their parents taught them, that cold drinks and hot are not good for the stomach. This followed a lesson to their children, and the practice continued to various generations to date. Some argue that cold drinks are likely to cause digestive problems because they solidify hot meals in the stomach. While they argue in favor of the hot water practiced saying, it eases digestion in the stomach.
There are some who argue that the habit of drinking hot water emerged from the traditional practice of having to boil water before drinking it. This was done to kill germs in the water and is attributed to the Chinese practice of drinking hot water. To date, most people boil water before drinking it because it is believed to be healthy. From a scientific point of view, it is argued that the stomach temperatures and acids work to ensure digestion of anything eaten. Because of that, the cold-water argument to solidify meals in the stomach does not have support scientifically (Wang, 2008).
On the other hand, most Chinese people are in question as to why people from the west would drink cold water. Some of the Chinese people views are attributed to the belief that most westerners like their food raw and this could be the reason they also drink their water cold without boiling or warming. Some Chinese argue that, it is time consuming for westerners to wait for hot water to cool to drinking temperatures. Others say it is because the westerners believe that hot water is only meant for coffee and tea. Historically people from the west such as the Americans, they are used to drinking water direct from the tap without boiling. On the other hand, those from China needed to boil their water before drinking. These practices have seen their way through to date. There are questions whether the practice is going to change, as the water from the tap in China has been proven safe for drinking. There is a growing popularity of bottled water in China. This is a sign that despite the practice to drink hot water there are those who have embraced drinking cold water (Paterson, 2008).
According to a Chinese medical philosophy, it recommends drinking of hot water with a temperature equal to the body temperature. The philosophy argues that both cold and hot water change the body balance. According to a traditional medical doctor from China Dr. Gui Chao, signs such as consistent chills, bloating, lack of sleep, and depression drinking hot water will bring the body into balance.
Research has indicated hot water to have many health benefits, it is believed to help in weight loss and a good digestive system. Drinking any form of water helps the body in many ways; the most important of all is hydration. Water helps the kidney to remove waste products and any toxic substance from the body. It enhances metabolism and clears the urine of the yellow color. Medical doctors recommend drinking of enough water because of its health benefits. When water is boiled, the bacterial organisms that are likely to be found in cold water are killed. This reduces the chances of one being infected by bacteria found in water. Hot water reduces the mucous found in sinuses this reduces the chances of fungal, bacterial infections in the respiratory and digestive tracts.
Some arguments as to why the Chinese people drink hot water have been linked to the Asian cultures of their passion for drinking tea. This is believed to have originated from China and is usually celebrated in ceremonies. According to history, the Chinese cultivated tea as herbal medicine. Monks later used tea to show respect for nature and humility. The Chinese believe that tea calms and gives peace to an individual. It was also used I temples to show respect for nature by the Chinese people. They have a special tea ceremony that is because of the combined philosophies of the Chinese people. They come together to celebrate the tea ceremony that serves as a form of peace, truth and entertainment. With time, many Chinese people embraced the tea ceremony and recognized its social value besides the herbal purpose it previously served. They held the tea ceremony to mark several useful events both socially and culturally. They would even use the tea ceremony in honor of the royal family an event that was regarded so important in then Chinese traditional practices. One of the major and most common of the Chinese traditional tea ceremonies is the Gonfu tea ceremony.
Most Chinese people to date celebrate this; this has been commercialized because of its uniqueness. Most tourists visit China to have an experience of then tea ceremony (Griffiths, 2007). Because of its long serving tradition the tea ceremony attracts the attention of many both locally and globally. The history of the tea ceremony traces its way back to the Tang Dynasty about 1200 year ago. The tea was carefully prepared with special guidelines to follow, for example, one needed to have a good attitude before tea preparation, so that a bad attitude is not passed to others. The type of tea was also carefully chosen to pick the best. One needed the necessary tools for the best tea preparation in the Chinese tea ceremony. This enhanced the magical atmosphere, as the Chinese people believe. For a good ritual, ambience is necessary to ensure cleanliness, calm and guests comfort.
The ceremony embraced traditional clothing, and the tea was to be served gracefully with people expressing joy. Choice of water was important in the Chinese tea ceremony they recommended the perfect water. The perfect water had to be boiled, and this could be the basis for the Chinese people preference of hot water whenever they are having meals. Use of pure water in the Chinese tea ceremony signified show of respect to the Mother Nature and admiration. Historically this could be the reason the Chinese people prefer drinking hot water. This is because the social and cultural belief an individual is raised with believing to be right, influences their future behavior and actions. The Chinese tea ceremony and choice of water might have been passed down several generations to present date.
This is because culture is a way of life of people and influences what they do and how they do it. It is usually passed down through generations. The belief by the Chinese that their water had to be boiled before drinking made the practice a routine in China, and everyone had to boil water. They believed in boiling water as the best method of water treatment. The psychological effect might have been transferred to several generations and made it a norm for water boiling. According to Chinese traditional medicine, if a person drinks any cold drink that is below the body temperature their digestive system and metabolism are altered. When metabolism and digestion are interfered with, this builds the inception ground for chronic diseases in future (Luqiang, 2009).
In addition to these arguments, there are several reasons why every individual should drink water. Water helps blood circulation in the body and helps to protect internal body organs. Cold water is believed to lower body temperature especially the freezer water. This reduces blood flow in the body as the veins freeze. The brain freezes due to cold water or any drink that has ice, therefore, moderate water temperatures are necessary.
Warm water is good for a balanced internal body temperature; this is because cold drinks or water may lead to the cold syndrome. This syndrome is associated with several effects such as painful menses in women, depression, loss of appetite and fatigue. Drinking hot water is regarded as the easiest way to treat the cold syndrome in addition to spicy foods that are hot.
Hot water helps relieve several symptoms such as slow digestion, cramps and abdominal gas that come about because of much heat to the body surface released as a result of internal cooling caused by cold water and drinks (Islami, 2009). It is believed that warm water saves the body of energy that would have been used to warm cold drinks to the normal body temperature before they are utilized. Hot water induces muscle expansion, therefore, improves appetite. Warm water helps children with constipations and stomachaches. It relieves them of the ache and constipation.
Drinking of water is healthy for an individual body. Water is essential for body organs function effectively. Both cold and warm water are healthy. Drinking warm water has several benefits, as is also the case with cold water. The body reacts to harmonize the internal body temperature with the type of water an individual drinks.
Some of the science arguments as to why Chinese people drink hot water are valid according to the traditional Chinese medicine. Historical arguments could also be valid. Arguments of water being unhealthy before boiling could be true in some cases. However, several methods of water treatment exist. They make water safe for human consumption without practically boiling it.
With the increased popularity of bottled water in China, people are yet to know whether this practice is going to change anytime soon. Several cases of discontent by Chinese people on services offered in certain restaurants have been reported. Many of these point at the lack of hot drinking water when food is served. It is, therefore, important to understand each other's culture and beliefs while interacting with them. The Chinese should not be victimized on these grounds because culture defines who we are and what we do.
Water treatment is recommended in all aspects that we use it. Therefore, every individual should work to ensure access to clean and healthy water at all times. It boosts hygiene and health since water is life. Without water, no one can survive. The Chinese seem to take from their forefathers and firmly maintain their cultural beliefs and practices despite the changing times.
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Islami, F., Pourshams, A., Nasrollahzadeh, D., Kamangar, F., Fahimi, S., Shakeri, R., & Boffetta, P. (2009). Tea drinking habits and oesophageal cancer in a high-risk area in northern Iran: population based case-control study. Bmj, 338.
Luqiang, H., Jing, L., Qingqiang, L., & Guoxin, W. (2009). Research on Health Drink from Indocalamus Leaves [J]. Academic Periodical of Farm Products Processing, 2, 015.
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Wang, X. H., & Dai, J. T. (2012). A comparative study on antioxidant activity of water and ethanol extracts of ten Chinese herbs. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 6(11), 2210-2215.