People in China like tea

7th January 2019

It's time to talk about a very special cultural difference. Drinking hot water in China. A phenomenon that remains incomprehensible even for many people with experience in China. Why do Chinese people drink hot water? What are the aluminum bottles all about? And what is a hot water infrastructure?

It is common knowledge that the Chinese like to drink tea. However, the fact that drinking normal hot water is as common for the Chinese as it is for us Germans is probably new and incomprehensible to many. As it should be for a foreign student, I have tried my hand at this cultural difference and I have to say that the Chinese convinced me. For my friends and family in Germany, this is still a mystery. In the meantime I have become something of an advocate for hot water and as such I would like to break a lance for it.

Hot water in traditional Chinese medicine

So, Chinese people love their hot water. I would even argue that it is the most popular drink in China. The Chinese believe in a positive effect that they associate with hot water. To understand this, one has to take a closer look at the Chinese concept of yin and yang. This means that in our environment, but especially in our body, everything is interrelated. Everything we do or eat affects the balance between yin and yang. To put it casually, Yin represents the inside and cold. Yang, on the other hand, represents the outside and heat. For example, if I was a little too brave when ordering spicy food (yang), an excess of yang can make me feel uncomfortable. According to Chinese logic, I should now add yin to bring the body back into balance, for example with bananas.

Hot water is a type of yang. So if you have a cold that is commonly associated with yin, you should drink plenty of hot water. The yang of your body is thus replenished and the balance is restored. So far so good, when I asked why the Chinese always drink hot water and this does not actually lead to an excess of Yang, the Chinese have so far not been able to give me a clear answer. Isn't that important either, because: hot water tastes really good!

Cola? Sprite or do you prefer hot water?

Yes, I'm serious, I really like hot water! Especially in lectures, when working or studying, hot water is a good alternative that I can drink indefinitely. It's almost like a soft drink, only with the advantage that hot water doesn't contain any sugar or sweeteners. Compared to tea, hot water also has a distinct advantage. Since tea mostly contains natural bitter substances, tea is not normally consumed by the Chinese for breakfast. The bitter substances would hit the empty stomach. Most teas also have a stimulating effect, which makes it difficult to drink in the evening. Hot water, on the other hand, can be drunk at any time of the day without hesitation.

The hot water infrastructure in China is insane

The final benefit of hot water in China is that it is available everywhere. I have christened this phenomenon with the great German name “hot water infrastructure”. Whether at university, at work, in the park, on the train or even on the plane (!), I can fill my most loyal China companion, my aluminum thermos flask, with the hot panacea for free. You will rarely see a Chinese without a thermos, which comes in all shapes and colors. Since the hot water infrastructure in China is simply everywhere, there is no need for a liter can. Rather, Chinese women in particular proudly carry their 150 ml pink thermos with them.

If you want to do something for 2019, you might try hot water instead of a cola. The beginning may be difficult and friends may first think you're crazy, but I'm now firmly convinced of the positive effects and the taste. The Shanghai comedy crew MamaHuhu also dealt with the subject in an interesting way. I can highly recommend the video.