Last fall, I was staying at a Daoist temple, on top of a mountain in China. Unfortunately, by November, the air was getting super cold and humid at the same time. Although I would add on many layers, the piercing cold would still penetrate through the clothes and blankets, I was freezing, especially at nighttime. Honestly, without any heater, the only thing that helped me fall asleep was to keep close to me a hot bottle of water. Also, in the morning, I knew I had to face the snow while training, it took all my mental strength to push myself out of bed. So how did I learn about how to stay warm with Chinese medicine tea?
This is where I was lucky enough to meet an amazing practitioner in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine): Daniel from The Purple Cloud Institute. I told him about how cold I was at night so I couldn’t sleep well and that during the day, whenever we had a break, I would go directly to the fire in the shed to warm up. That’s when he shared with me a very useful warming TCM tea recipe!!! I was so grateful for this!
You can find the spices absolutely anywhere! And it’s so easy to make! So, are you ready to learn how to warm yourself up when even the most chilling wind is around?
The nature of food in Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods, teas and spices can have either a warming or a cooling effect on the body. Even if the food in question feels warm to the touch, it doesn’t necessarily have a warming effect. I know that this might sound really weird but if you are cold, you will avoid for example green or white tea that have a cooling effect, but these are great to have in the summer!
In the book “Healing with whole foods” by Paul Pitchford, the author explains about the nature of food in TCM, that you can have too much cold in your body when you don’t exercise, when you live in a cold environment or if you eat a lot of cooling foods.
So, if you often feel cold and need to cover up (even in the warmer months), you can balance yourself by eating and drinking warming foods and avoid for example raw foods and cold water.
Speaking of cold water, before we get to the recipe, this is something that really surprised me in China. A lot of people I met drink hot water every day! It’s quite unusual for westerners to drink simple hot water, especially during the warm weather months. But switching to this has made a world of difference for me.
While at the temple, one of my friends also saw great benefits with this. She had stomach issues when she arrived and our shifu (teacher) asked her if she had been drinking cold water before coming and she said yes. He told her to start drinking only hot water and her stomach got better really fast.
So, I have tested out drinking warm water for a few months now and since then, I have noticed that when I do drink something cold, my stomach doesn’t feel well. I feel so much better if I drink warm or at least room temperature water. I definitely advise anyone to try this for a few weeks just to see the difference. Also, I feel in my body that it’s even more important at that special time of the month, so ladies stick to some nice warm herbal tea or water 😉
The warming tea recipe
Ingredients for one cup:
Ginger: about 2 cm or one inch of fresh ginger
Cinnamon: 1 stick
Cardamom: about ½ a teaspoon
- Clean your ginger if you’re not going to peel off the skin. Now, you can slice up your ginger and put the pieces in a kitchen pot.
- Then, add some powdered cinnamon or way better one cinnamon stick. Don’t forget to put some cardamom.
- You can poor approximately one cup of water in the pot.
- Bring your water to a boil then bring down the temperature until the water is simmering. Leave if for 5 minutes, but you can let it simmer longer if you like it extra strong.
If you like black tea, instead of using just water, you can mix these spices together with it since it also has a warming effect on the body. Just avoid drinking this too late unless you want to stay wide awake that night!
The benefits of the spices
In the “Healing with whole foods” book, it’s described that “Cinnamon,…ginger,…, cardamom all have…warming qualities”. Actually, besides having this wonderful warming effect, they have other useful benefits, such as…
I looove drinking ginger tea. Its benefits are amazing. Whenever I have digestive issues, this is my go-to tea. It’s good when you have nausea and is anti-inflammatory for the body.
Great for lowering blood sugar. I also like to put this in my tea if I am avoiding sugar, it helps me resist the cravings 😉 If you want to learn more about cinnamon’s benefits, click on this link.
My experience on how to stay warm with Chinese Medicine tea
Back to my story, since I didn’t have access to the kitchen or anything fancy at the time, I simply cut up some fresh ginger, put it with the other two spices in my thermos and pored hot water on them.
Actually, it was funny at first, because I told Daniel that the recipe wasn’t working for me, I didn’t feel the warmth. I realized later that it was because I had simply put the herbs with hot water and waited for 5 minutes without actually cooking the herbs. He told me to put some more spices. I followed his instructions that evening and I took a sip and didn’t notice much of a difference, so I left the herbs in my thermos all night long. By morning, it was super effective for the long hours of tai chi training I had to do that day in the snow. I was totally on fire!!!
Later on, he explained to me that “if you brew them for 12 hours, it will reach a medicinal strength similar to boiling them up in a pot (tastier too)”.
Enjoy your tea!
Once I understood how to make this warming tea correctly, it helped me sleep better at night and feel more comfortable to train in the snow. I just wished I had found it earlier! Also, my stomach really appreciates the switch to drinking warm water every day, I really feel the difference in my digestion, yes it’s strange but just give it a try!
Now that you know that ginger, cinnamon and cardamom are by nature warming spices, enjoy the warmth that fills you up from the inside with this amazing tea!!!
Have you tried this recipe? Leave a comment below to share how it turned out? 😊
- If you want to learn more about what the Purple Cloud Institute does, here is link to their website where they talk about Traditional Chinese Medicine, Daoism, Chinese culture and spirituality : http://purplecloudinstitute.com/
- Healing with whole foods, by Paul Pitchford, pages 66, 209