The article is authored by Physician Edward Ho, a licensed Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner officially registered with the TCM Practitioners Board under the Ministry of Health in Singapore. Since 2014, Physician Edward has been generously contributing his expertise as a volunteer at the Clinic of Chung Hwa Medical Institution at Toa Payoh Lorong 4. Recognised for his outstanding contributions, he received the Exceptional Physician award in both 2019 and 2022.

Specialising in acupuncture treatment and TCM consultations, Physician Edward focuses on helping patients dealing with chronic ailments, post-stroke rehabilitation, muscle or joint strains, and overall health concerns. His commitment to providing holistic healthcare has established him as a respected and dedicated practitioner in the field.

“Tea-drinking” (饮茶)

Climate change is making its presence felt. Extreme weather, super typhoons, floods, forest fires have been reported more frequently. This means our body will have to experience these external stresses at greater amplitude.

TCM herbs, when used appropriately, can offer not only comfort for our physical being, but also

relief for our internal systems. Perhaps this is why ‘tea-drinking’ (饮茶) has been growing in

popularity and more effort have been invested to develop new generation of tea to help our body weather the changes in our environment.

The practice of tea-drinking has a long history in China. Chinese tea generally represents tea leaves which have been processed using methods inherited from ancient China. Chinese tea can be classified into six distinctive categories: green, black, oolong, white and the post- fermented (pu-er). Among these, green tea would arguably be the most popular.

Tea-drinking is commonly practiced in restaurants or at home. In most Chinese restaurants, tea is usually served in lieu of water. Customers are given a variety of types of tea to choose from. The selected type of tea leave will be put into a tea-pot which will then be fill with boiling water before being served. Re-filling with boiling water is common practice. Customers just need to lift up the lid of the teapot to indicate the need for refilling. At home, the Chinese usually use a personal thermal flask/bottle in which hot water is allowed to infuse with tea leaves. They will drink the tea directly from the bottle or with a cup. The bottle will be refilled several times throughout the day.

Outside China, tea-drinking is also common practice all over the world, examples include the United Kingdom, France, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Kenya etc. In fact, Sri Lanka (or Ceylon) tea industry accounted for 4.1% of its GDP in 2022 and is the fourth-largest tea producer.

Life-style

Chinese tea uses mainly leaves as its main ingredient. There is another type of tea that use flowers instead. Examples include Chamomile, Jasmine, Chrysanthemum, Rose, etc. Capitalising on the flagrance of flowers, these flower teas provide a new dimension of enjoyment in tea- drinking. Generally, drinking flower teas tend to lead to an up-lifting effect and is good for those who may experience tiredness, fatigue and stress in certain time of their day.

Because of the growing interests and demand for tea-drinking all over the world, tea-drinking has become the universal lingo that transcend geographical boundaries, inclusively for people in all walks of life. It has really been adopted as a “life-style” endeavour that can be enjoyed for different reason and at different occasions.

Tea-drinking is no longer just for the morning, or for a specific time of the day. It can be enjoyed when friends get together, sharing a life experience or at special occasions, whether it is for health benefits, as a means of communication and social activity, or for specific tradition.

Functional aspects

Singapore is a tropical country located near the equator. Its weather is typically hot and humid, with a good combination of strong sun and heavy rain. Its population density is among the highest in the world. These, coupled with its relentless pursuit of meritocracy could make life quite stressful.

Under such circumstances, it is good to be able to find ways to relax. Tea-drinking has often been practiced as a form of relaxation. During the day, a sip of tasty and fragrant tea can give you the extra stimulation you need to carry you through the taxing demand in your work and life.

There could also be the possibility that you have consumed too much rich and spicy food and had the sensation of indigestion, a dry throat or a bloated stomach. Again, tea can come to the rescue to provide the quick fix that can relieve you of the need to go to see a doctor. The term “Cool Tea” or “凉茶” represents a type of tea that ‘cools’ the body down to prevent sore throat or similar undesirable effects of being heaty.

Yet there are some who would like to keep themselves hydrated after some exercise, outdoor activities, gardening or just housework. Tea can also be a choice when you need to get yourself revitalised and your energy replenished.

The increased popularity in tea-drinking can also be attributed to proven functional effects, such as soothing a dry throat; clearing indigestion and uplifting a tired spirit. These effects came from specific ingredients in the tea, with relevant TCM or Herbal Medicinal characteristics.

HFTea

Recently, a friend offered me several herbal teas, the HFTea, at a gathering. He is the third generation of a family which operates a Chinese medical hall for the last 66 years.

The HFTea is packaged as tea bags, to be consumed in cups with hot water. Depending on

the individual, they can be refilled with hot water throughout the day.

The HFTea was first launched in 2020, using modern technology in the process of preparation

and packaging. More variety had been developed over the last 3 years, targeting at different functions or benefits.

As a tea drinker, I was interested to find out more about the ingredients used in the tea, to get a better understanding of the functions or benefits.

HFTea as herbal supplements

Looking at the ingredients used in HF Tea, it contains mostly leaves, flowers, branches or roots of plants, or botanicals. This fits into the category called ‘herbal supplement’ under the USFDA. The practice of using herbal supplements dates back thousands of years. Today, the use of herbal supplements is common among consumers. Because they are not subject to close scrutiny by the authorities, the effects to one consumer may differ from another. For specific or unusual symptoms after consuming any of these teas with herbal supplements below, it is best to discuss with your physician.

HFTea 1: Timeless Beauty Tea (with real pearl) 统珍珠美人花茶The highlight of this ‘all-flower’ tea must be the pearl. The combination of the anxiolytic effect of the powdered pearl and the soothing function of the flowers would be well appreciated by the tea drinkers.

With all the ingredients coming together, the tea is well suited to bring up the energy level and spirit of the drinkers who could possibly benefit from improvements in sleep and skin health, better circulation, cooling and antioxidation.

 

HFTea 2: Slimming Beauty Tea (lactation) 身美人花茶This tea works in all directions:

– Cooling and heat-quenching with snow chrysanthemum, roselle and stevia;

– Repel internal cold with common fenugreek seed, cinnamon and cumin;

– Promote digestion with hawthorn fruit and senna leaf; while

– Neutralise and combine all the effects with the liquorice root.

This would allow the body to remove undesirable residuals and at the same time energise its metabolic system with the re-balancing effect of the tea.

 

HFTea 3: Sleeping Beauty Tea (Triple rose) 容觉睡眠花茶

Roses have been used for cultural and medicinal purposes for many years. The rose family has over 130 species and thousands of cultivars. Roses are generally edible and can be used in tea, some varieties are sweet while other are more bitter.

With a combination of 3 types of roses and petals and buds of other flowers such as chrysanthemum and lavender, this tea is an aromatic herbal beverage that provides a soothing and calming effect that can lead to better sleeping quality.

A few facts about roses in tea:

– Caffeine-free;

– Antioxidants, polyphenols, such as gallic acid, anthocyanins, kaempferol and quercetin.

– May help in hydration, menstrual pain

 

HFTea 4: Monk Fruit Tea (cooling) 汉果凉茶罗汉果 has long been used to make drinks that relieve sore throat and reduce phlegm. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and is often used to control blood sugar levels.

The 3 types of leaves in the tea reinforce its cooling effect. Not only cooling, but also anti- inflammation as well as enhancing digestion and anti-oxidation.

 

HFTea 5: Ginseng Tea (American) 宗花期参茶People take American ginseng for stress relief, to boost the immune system, for upper airway infections, diabetes, and general health.

Together with the other ingredients, the tea should provide the nourishing effects of better blood circulation, enhanced digestion, smoother respiration and less inflammation.

 

HFTea 6: Eight Treasure Soup 品八珍汤包This tea resembles closely the classical TCM recipe called “Eight Treasure Soup”, or [八珍汤],

which has been widely used to boost women health to treat menstrual disorders and to help post-delivery reinforcements.

Among the ingredients:

– 熟地,党参,首乌,枸杞子 kept the warmth in the system to improve its effectiveness in the absorption of nutrients;

– 白术 kept the digestion system in good condition so that it will assist to prepare for better absorption;

– 当归、白芍 help facilitate blood circulation into the internal systems;

– The others such as 川芎、大枣、甘草 work together to maintain a conducive internal system where the blood and the energy are in-sync so as to maximise the desired effect of 益气补血。