China is a wonderful place bursting with culturally rich practices that have been ongoing for thousands of years, and the practice of drinking tea after a meal is one such tradition. Why do Chinese people drink tea after a meal?
In China, it’s commonly believed that drinking tea both during and after a meal helps to aid digestion, preventing the accumulation of extra fat. Additionally, some scholars believe that hot water in tea was supposed to combat fevers and the common cold.
As you can see, the tradition of drinking tea after a meal has some merits. The rest of this article will seek to answer the question of why the Chinese drink tea after their meals.
Ancient Chinese Practices
The practice of drinking tea alongside meals has been around since ancient China. At the time, tea was a luxury item reserved only for the wealthy, but as surprising as it may seem, the tea itself isn’t the reason for the practice—it’s the hot water. While the wealthy drank their flavored teas, others relied on hot water to reap its health benefits.
One benefit of hot tea that serves to explain the reason behind the practice is that is eases digestion. It reduces the accumulation of mucous, keeping your throat clear. Additionally, hot water helps to break down the food more easily, aiding digestion.
Sipping green tea during a meal also has the benefit of satiating one’s hunger, preventing practitioners of this custom from overeating and making it easier to regular their weight.
Tea, specifically green tea, has been shown to increase metabolism and fat oxidation in those who drink it regularly. As such, green tea can help decrease calories and further improve digestion. The effects of green tea on a person’s metabolism are quite small in the long run.
Drinking tea offers some nutritional benefits to the body as well. Full of antioxidants, green tea can help fight off an overabundance of free radicals, substances that can cause harm in the body. Antioxidants help with a range of functions in the body, contributing to the overall health of those who consume them.
Drinking tea doesn’t just have a host of benefits. It’s also a part of Chinese culture. For example, the tradition of Cha Dao is a combination of brewing, smelling, and drinking tea. Traditionally, it’s done as a way of welcoming guests. A Chinese tea ceremony tea set—including a teapot, strainer, kettle, tea leaves, and tea cups—is steeped and served to guests.
Typically, the tea is served with both hands as a sign of respect. Those receiving the tea should take an appreciative smell and then sip the tea, rather than gulping it down.