Why Do Chinese Drink Tea After a Meal? And What Tea to Sip

China has a vast territory, abundant tourism resources, majestic mountains and rivers, folk customs that have lasted for thousands of years, peculiar animals and plants, and countless places of interest.

In spring, you can enjoy flowers and greenery. In summer, you can enjoy waterfall and surf. In autumn, you can climb mountains and bike riding. And in winter you can go skiing and eat hot pot.

If you don’t know where to go, then you are in the right place, let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful tourist attractions in China.

In Lugu Lake, Lijiang, there is a small island extending out with some Chinese-style buildings on it

Chinese tea culture boasts a rich history and has attracted many tea enthusiasts. For the younger crowd, it’s often a way to stay alert and focused, while the older generation sees it as a means of maintaining good health. Post-meal, many folks embrace the tradition of having a cup of tea, as the saying goes, “A cup of tea after a meal keeps your eyes from getting dim in old age.” However, whether this habit is beneficial or detrimental varies from person to person. There’s an art to when and how to enjoy that post-meal tea, and while many continue the practice, not everyone may be doing it right.

someone was pouring tea into a cup with a teapot
Image Source: [Pixabay]

9 Benefits of Drinking Tea After Meals

Let’s dive into the various benefits of having tea after meals.

1. Oral Hygiene Boost

Chinese cuisine often leans towards rich and spicy flavors, leaving food residues to accumulate in the mouth. This can lead to bad breath over time. Tea, with its breath-freshening properties, aids in clearing lingering tastes post-meal.

2. Aid in Digestion

One perk of post-meal tea is its digestive assistance. The caffeine, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin C in tea stimulate gastric juice secretion, aiding digestion and enhancing fat breakdown. Therefore, having tea after a meal can alleviate stomach discomfort and promote digestion.

3. Fat Absorption Control

As lifestyles improve, diets become more diverse. Drinking tea after meals not only aids digestion but also controls fat absorption, preventing excessive calorie intake. This contributes to overall health, helping to avoid becoming overweight.

4. Boosts Metabolism

Whether it’s the caffeine or antioxidants in tea, both stimulate the body’s metabolism. Drinking tea after meals not only boosts metabolism but also expedites the elimination of metabolic byproducts, safeguarding our overall health.

5. Helps Lower Blood Lipids

Tea polyphenols in tea possess antioxidant properties that can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Additionally, the caffeine in tea helps reduce lipid oxidation and breakdown, contributing to lowering blood lipids and protecting cardiovascular health when consumed after meals.

6. Stress Relief

Facing various pressures in work and life, tea consumption can act as a stress reliever. The aroma and refreshing taste of tea help relax the mind and body, enhancing resilience and bringing positive energy into our lives.

7. Energizes and Awakens

The caffeine in tea stimulates the central nervous system, enhancing the excitation process of the cerebral cortex. This results in increased mental alertness, improved thinking, memory, and an overall sense of wakefulness and energy.

8. Supports Diuresis

Tea’s caffeine stimulates the kidneys, prompting the rapid excretion of urine. This increases the kidney’s filtration rate, reducing the retention time of harmful substances. Caffeine also eliminates excess lactic acid from urine, assisting the body in quickly recovering from fatigue.

9. Liver Protection

Black tea, rich in sugars and various vitamins, provides some protection to the liver. For those who enjoy alcohol, which can burden the liver over time, having a cup of Pu-erh tea after dinner is especially beneficial.

While drinking tea after meals offers numerous health benefits, it’s essential to note that it should not replace regular meals. Consumption should be moderate and tailored to individual needs. Enjoy the aroma of tea, but always prioritize your health, practicing mindful tea consumption for a healthier body.

The family gathered around the table to drink tea and talk
Image Source: [Pexels]

The Optimal Time for Drinking Tea After Meals

Many tea enthusiasts prefer having tea immediately after meals, thinking it aids digestion and promotes health. However, this might not be a good practice, as it can lead to indigestion and even increase the risk of developing stones.

In reality, it is best to wait for about an hour or an hour and a half after meals before drinking tea. This timeframe allows for proper digestion of the food in the stomach, making it the correct approach. This advice applies not only to post-meal situations but also to periods of fasting or half an hour before meals.

During meals, having a small amount of tea poses no significant issues. However, excessive tea consumption or consuming overly concentrated tea during meals can hinder the absorption of essential minerals (such as calcium) and trace elements (such as iron and zinc).

Furthermore, there’s an art to choosing the type of tea and the time of day to drink it. Start your day with a cup of green tea for a refreshing and clear mind. Enjoy a jasmine tea in the morning to boost efficiency with its delightful fragrance. Opt for black tea in the afternoon to alleviate fatigue and stay alert. Finally, unwind in the evening with a pot of oolong tea to both relax and cleanse your palate from the day’s richness.

The Best Teas to Drink After Meals

Drinking tea is not as simple as steeping tea leaves in hot water and sipping away. The timing and type of tea you choose to enjoy each day are essential. The key to incorporating “tea for health” into your lifestyle lies in choosing the right time to drink tea, ensuring it provides the desired health benefits.

Morning

In the morning, when blood concentration is high, it’s crucial to avoid strong teas to prevent the onset of cardiovascular issues. Opt for light tea, like green tea, to replenish fluids, dilute the blood, benefit cardiovascular health, and aid in clearing the digestive system, preventing constipation.

Additionally, avoid drinking tea on an empty stomach in the morning, as the caffeine content in tea can lead to discomfort such as palpitations and frequent urination.

For morning tea, black tea is recommended. It stimulates blood circulation in the body, removes internal cold, and ensures ample blood supply to the brain. Enjoying a cup of black tea after breakfast, perhaps with a splash of milk, is a good choice.

Afternoon

Around 3 PM is the ideal time for tea in the afternoon, commonly known as afternoon tea. This time is crucial for individuals with “three highs” (hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hyperglycemia). Drinking tea at this time has remarkable effects that traditional medicine may not achieve, enhancing resistance and preventing colds.

In the afternoon, oolong or green tea is a good choice. Typically, the liver is more active around noon, and drinking green or oolong tea can alleviate this phenomenon.

Evening

Contrary to the belief that drinking tea in the evening disrupts sleep, the key lies in the right timing and quantity. Around 8:30 PM, the body’s immune system is most active. Drinking tea at this time helps the body repair and replenish the immune system, aiding in cell regeneration.

In the evening, moderate tea consumption is essential, ensuring tea is consumed two hours before bedtime. Opt for teas that do not overly stimulate the body, such as black tea and white tea, especially mature Pu-erh. These choices won’t interfere with normal sleep patterns and are considered excellent options.

If you’re interested in exploring more types of tea, you can check out my other blog post where I discuss the six major categories of Chinese tea. The post delves into the characteristics, preparation methods, and common varieties of each type of tea.

Drinking tea while reading helps refresh your mind
Image Source: [Unsplash]

Tea Drinking Taboos

While there are numerous benefits to drinking tea, it’s essential to adhere to some rules to ensure a healthy tea-drinking practice.

1. Avoid Fresh Tea

Due to the short storage time, fresh tea contains higher levels of unoxidized polyphenols, aldehydes, and alcohols. These substances can strongly irritate the gastrointestinal mucosa and may lead to stomach issues. It is advisable to limit the consumption of fresh tea, especially tea stored for less than half a month.

2. Avoid Drinking Tea on an Empty Stomach

Drinking tea on an empty stomach dilutes stomach acid, reducing digestive function. The high water absorption rate can lead to the rapid entry of undesirable components from tea into the bloodstream, causing symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, and weakness.

3. Avoid Tea During Fever

Tea contains caffeine, which can elevate body temperature. Drinking tea during a fever is akin to adding fuel to the fire and should be avoided.

4. Avoid Tea During Menstruation

Drinking tea, especially strong tea, during menstruation can trigger or worsen premenstrual syndrome. Medical studies suggest that individuals with a tea-drinking habit have a 2.4 times higher chance of experiencing menstrual tension compared to non-tea drinkers. The risk increases threefold for those consuming more than four cups of tea daily.

5. Avoid Tea for Individuals with Liver Conditions

Substances like caffeine in tea are primarily metabolized by the liver. If the liver is compromised, excessive tea consumption beyond the liver’s metabolic capacity can harm liver tissues.

6. Pregnant Women Should Limit Tea Consumption

Pregnant women, especially, should avoid consuming strong tea. Tea contains a significant amount of tea polyphenols and caffeine, which may have adverse effects on the normal development of the fetus. To promote normal cognitive development and avoid excessive stimulation from caffeine, pregnant women should limit or refrain from tea consumption.

Conclusion

Drinking tea after meals is a time-honored tradition in China, offering numerous health benefits. It can aid digestion, detoxify the body, boost alertness, and protect the liver. However, it’s crucial not to take tea consumption lightly. Drinking the right tea at the right time with the appropriate variety is key to enjoying these benefits without compromising our health.

Adhering to some tea-drinking taboos is equally important. For individuals who may not be suitable for tea consumption, especially after meals, it’s advisable to refrain. Doing so not only provides no benefits but may also lead to discomfort.

In essence, the art of tea-drinking lies in understanding the nuances of when, what, and how much to drink. By following these guidelines and respecting the intricacies of tea culture, we can savor the delights of tea while nurturing our well-being.

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