My friend Audra suggested I do a post on the “cooling effects” of tea. It also is a very common question I get about tea in real life.
As I am not a medical professional, I will make a disclaimer at this point and say that my opinions are purely personal and if you need to double-check on anything, please refer to your family doctor/sinseh yah?
Because I am Chinese, it really is a given to me that tea is “cooling” i.e. has yin properties. This has somehow made a lot of women around me avoid drinking tea for fear that it will cause ill health. However, it’s not actually a bad thing, especially in ‘foodie’ Singapore where many of us love to indulge in “heaty” fried, rich foods.
My take is that the cooling effects of tea is highly subjective and depends on the individual. The same tea which makes one person feel dizzy might invigorate another (this is according to one tea maker who told me the same batch of tea gets a full spectrum of customer feedback on its effects). As such, rather than avoid all tea, my suggestion is to gauge what effects various tea brews have on you, especially if they are your favourite yummy ones!
Some telling “overcooling” symptoms(these are based on empirical observations from my tea-drinking friends and I):
- Feeling faint/light-headedness
- Joint discomfort: Interestingly enough there have been some Western medical studies which indicate that overconsumption of tea (meaning 4 -10 cups a day) may increase the risk of arthritis and/or rheumatism.
- For ladies only: Worsened period cramps
- For guys only: Drop in libido (to be fair, it was a friend of a friend’s account so I cannot fully verify this)
This is also why quite a lot of old office uncles I used to work with absolutely refused to drink tea lukewarm or iced. The premise is that because tea is cooling, you should drink it hot so you get ‘balanced effects’. There’s also a general theory that the lighter the tea is, the more “cooling” it would be e.g. white and green teas are considered more ‘cooling’ than the dark teas like pu-erh. I’m not sure how true that is, but if you want to be on the safer side of things, you can try out black or dark oolong teas first and see how your body responds.
Conversely, here are some possible symptoms that your body is heaty and some cooling tea might be in order:
- Pimple breakouts
- Sore/itchy throat
- Flushed face/warm body
Conclusion: Yes, tea is cooling. But that’s not a bad thing with the heaty climate and diet. Do a little taste test first to see if a certain type of tea is too cool for you (a cup or two). And of course, as with everything else in life, moderation. Do share any “cooling tea” experiences – whether good or bad.