A Big Glass of Iced Tea? Some second thoughts…
I have written in so many articles advising people to avoid iced tea that it may very well sound like I have always stayed away from it.
Ice tea: my usual drink too, years ago
Ice tea, whether the all time Hong Kong favourite lemon tea with syrup, or Ceylon broken leaf boiled to extra strong with lard, or the uniquely Hong Kong half-robusta half-Ceylon coffee-tea they call the "mandarin duck", had all been my usual summer drinks (along with other iced beverages) until I got really serious about tea, and about the health effects of F&B.
I have also actually designed a few special iced tea drinks too, for business purposes. Hong Kong, being in the sub-tropic, is hot with a huge range of iced drinks — it's hard to imagine any F&B place without the offer.
Advise against iced drinks is destined to be unpopular
And I know exactly what it means when the sun is so high, and after one has been out there whole morning, trekking the rocky paths of steep mountains or swimming through the river of people on side walks next to traffic jams of double decker buses. A gigantic glass of iced drink seems to be the ideal thing to cool off. Ice tea, in particular, has such a refreshing sensation. Even ten years ago, I would chew up every single bits of ice-cube to empty the glass.
Advise against iced drinks is destined to be unpopular, to say the least.
In the Western medicine point of view, iced tea and hot tea are more or less the same chemically, except that the low temperature may irritate a sensitive throat or trachea, and the high one may scald your tongue and oral passage.
Concerning this topic, the only other piece of wisdom from Western science is stating the fact that with a low temperature drink going into the lining of the intestine (which is like the skin inside), the body mistakes that the environmental temperature has dropped so the blood vessels near the skin contracts to reduce heat loss, thereby slowing down the natural cool down process. The excessive heat that should have been dissipated is trapped.
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the low temperature in an iced drink discourages the "domain" of the pancreas/spleen(1) to hinder the functions of absorption and water utilization. This resultant residual "dampness" coupled with the trapped heat to become "heat-dampness" toxins, which in turn weaken the governing domain.
Heat-dampness or just dampness alone can accumulate and become acute to manifest in different people in one or more of the following symptoms:
Since antiquity, writers of Chinese medical literature have isolated various forms of "dampness" toxins as some of the major and common "pathogens"(2). People who exercise amply and regularly, and who have a regular and balanced diet, and who go to bed early are less likely to acquire such symptoms when exposed to regular iced drinks.
Nevertheless, I have written for you some tips for making a better glass of iced tea:
1. "Domain" is my translation of the TCM concept of "Zang-Fu", where internal organs and systems are identified by the effects of their functional scope rather than by their anatomical entities. The original TCM term for the domain of pancreas/spleen is "pi", which is sometimes translated as the misleading term as "spleen", but not referring to the anatomical entity that is that name. That is why my new translation.
2. While in Western medicine individual kinds of germs or virus are identified as the cause for a disease, in TCM the relationship between the environmental and the body conditions is the key to health or sickness. Conditions causing sickness are described as "she", which is sometimes translated as "evils", but the more accurate meaning is "unhealthy influences" — disease causing agents, i.e. pathogens in the original sense of the word.
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