Coming from a Latin American country where we drink coffee first thing in the morning and many times during the day, moving to China was a completely upside down kind of experience. My first cultural encounter was to realize that fridges are not as popular here as hot water machines. It also puzzled me the fact that Chinese people don’t drink cold water, if you go to a Chinese restaurant they’ll give you a glass of hot water and tea for free but if you want to drink cold water you’ll have to buy it. In my country, when someone visits you, you’ll always offer a cup of coffee because you give for granted that they’ll drink it. Here something similar happens when you visit a friend or go for a business meeting, they’ll serve your tea even without asking.
I need to confess that I have been living in Beijing for almost 4 years now, but I have never drank tea or hot water. I always find a polite way to explain that I prefer to drink coffee. It might seem silly but I have the idea that if I start drinking tea, I’ll be losing some of my Latin American identity. I think that what makes us different and unique makes us stronger.
I know for a fact that drinking tea is healthier than drinking coffee, so I never advice anyone to drink coffee. Being in China helped me appreciate the very interesting and vast tea culture. I love wondering around the many different tea houses in Beijing. I found the tree tables very appealing, even if I don’t drink it, I love hearing about all the different kind of teas and their history. I enjoy the tea ceremony as much as I enjoy watching my favorite TV series (Grey’s Anatomy). Whenever I want to offer a present, a typical Chinese souvenir, I’ll always go for a tea packet. One of my favorite teas for presents is the “8 Jewels”, a Japanese friend of mine told me that it has that name because the tea it’s made by 8 different kind of teas mixed together, and every time you have a sip of tea, will taste different. Isn’t that amazing? Of course I’ve never tried it, but some of my friends have and they love it.
Probably one of the most popular teas in China is green tea. You can get it for free at any restaurant or shop and I personally think it’s a great idea and way to promote a healthy style of life. Green tea is very useful for many different illness and conditions. This tea is specially recommended for bad breath caused by stomach heat, this is a very common Chinese term and I’ve been personally battling it since I came to China.
Green tea is also promoted to prevent cancer. There are many new studies that promote tea as a potential cancer therapy, specially against lung cancer.
I promise I’ll start drinking it from tomorrow and I’ll walk around my neighborhood tea house to find out some other tea recipes and let you know, so we can all make together a mystical experience.
Do you know of any other tea recipe that you want to tell us?