Alternative "Long Term Health Care Insurance"--Tips for Tea

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Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? - how did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.--Sydney Smith (English essayist, early 1800s)

We've known that tea is very beneficial to our health. Enjoying tea the right ways is to have an alternative "long term health care insurance", Uncle Huang said, "because it helps you stay away from illness."

Uncle Huang is my father's good friend who loved to give me red-envelopes when I was young. He cracked jokes about it when I grew up.

He enjoyed teas all his life and had worked in tea industory for 30 years. He past away peacefully at age 91 last year. When I made calls to my father, we some times talked about him with loving memories.

Because his tea talks were from his expertise and made sense, when I received more tea tips from other resources that share his tea wisedom, I decided to put here some of his tea tips to commemorate him and hope the 10 tips also help others enjoy tea better.

Here are the tips-- your cost-wise, alternative "long term health care insurance":

1. Mealtimes and tea

Don't drink tea on an empty stomach. The best time to have tea is during or after a meal. Because our stomachs are acidic and tea is alkalic, it may give you a bloating effect when the acid and alkaline are combined in an empty stomach.

2. Smoker's tea

Smoke is not good. But if you do smoke, make white tea your regular drink, because it's good for the lungs and throat and helps clear the phlegm and cures coughs. White peony tea is good. Don't try to tell the quality of a white tea by its color, though. Pure white tea has hardly any flavor or color compared to other teas.

If you think white tea has color, it's because most restaurants mix white peony tea with black tea to add color and flavor because customers generally prefer tea that tastes richer and looks darker.

Don't smoke and spend lots of money buying long term health insurance. Instead, quit smoke and drink tea.

4. Screw-shaped green tea: Bi Luo Chun

Green tea is good. I like screw-shaped green tea, bi-luo-chun. Genuine screw-shaped green tea is the highest grade of green tea and the most expensive. If you want to enjoy it in Chinese restaurants outside of China, the restaurant has to be a fine dining place.

Bi luo chun is produced only on Mountain Dong Ting in Jiangsu Province, China. It's also the rarest green tea in China, producing only about 1,000 kilograms a year.

Screw-shaped green tea has a particular bitter taste. Like other green teas, it must be consumed fresh, within a year after being picked. Its quality is best when consumed within six months. If it is tasteless, solvent or too bitter, that means it has already gone bad.

5. What to drink with oily food

Always pair oily food with pu-erh tea, because pu-erh tea is like a digestible detergent to flush all the grease away. It helps your digestion, blood circulation and lowers cholesterol levels. (Not bad to have a "long term health care insurance" this way.)

You can use it as your dish detergent if you like. Just boil some pu-erh tea and use it to wash your dishes. It's a digestible detergent.

6. What to drink with sweets

Sweet food is best paired with green tea such as Long Jing. Like pu-erh tea, drinking green tea helps lower cholesterol levels and break down fat. ( "Green tea is something you must have if you want an alternative 'long term health care insurance'", Uncle Huang emphasized to my father during a Chinese poker game.)

But while most teas are best brewed in boiling hot water, green teas should be brewed in water that is about 75 to 85 degrees Celsius. If the water is too hot, it will be difficult to maintain the same fragrance in the second brew.

7. What to drink with spicy food

Spicy foods are best paired with Tie Guan Yin (teh kuan yin) because it has a bitter sweet effect. If you ever visit a Chiu Chow restaurant, they always serve teh kuan yin tea with their spicy dishes.

By the way, Chiu Chow is a city that borders the city of Shantou and Fujian Province, which is known for harvesting teh kuan yin leaves.

8. What to have with fried food

Basically, any type of fried or deep fried food goes well with white tea. In Chinese medicinal terms, fried food is considered dry and hot, and white teas, such as white hair peony, help release body heat.

9. Where can you find good pu-erh tea?

Certainly not at dim sum restaurants. It is simply not cost-efficient. Pu-erh tea is like wine. The longer you store it, the richer it becomes. Storage for at least three to six years is optimal. Good pu-erh tea should look very smooth and deep red in color, not black like regular pu-erh tea.

Regular pu-erh teas served at restaurants have generally been modified during the fermentation process to reduce storage time. By doing this, they lose whatever fragrance and flavor they originally had.

You can also test the quality of your pu-erh tea by the stain it leaves on your cup after drinking it. If you see a stain surrounding the rim of your cup, that means you are drinking regular or low quality pu-erh tea. If your cup is left with no stain after consumption, you are drinking pu-erh tea of high quality.

10. The best moments to enjoy tea

Drinking tea is more a matter of your mood. And when I talk about mood, it mainly has to do with the condition of time.

You've probably heard many rules about tea, from water temperature to color. But from my understanding, drinking tea is a very personal experience. It's all about time. We need time to brew that perfect cup of tea.

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