Since its discovery thousands of years ago, tea has been used as a medicine. Perhaps only alcoholic beverages have played a more influential role throughout history. Ever since alcohol has been consumed and people have partied, tea has played an crucial role in easing the effects of alcohol, drunkenness, and, to the joy of partiers now and throughout the ages, the effects of that terrible hangover. Today on New Years Day, the official day of the hangover, lets examine how and why tea is used as a hangover remedy by looking at tea’s general properties, the properties that all tea have in common. Part two that will follow in the coming week will look at which types of tea are best for hangovers and which hangover symptoms these types help to alleviate.
The properties of flavour have a therapeutic effect. Tea is said to have two main tastes, bitter and sweet. A balance of these flavours (along with the three or four other flavours) is a major factor in determining the quality of tea. The bitter flavour is said to be draining while the sweet flavour is said to be strengthening. After a night of drinking, the bitter flavour of tea acts to drain or flush out the alcohol accumulated in the body. The sweet flavour of tea is said to strengthen and rejuvenate our body and our mind. Both bitter and sweet flavours offer a therapeutic benefit for those seeking to rid themselves of a hangover.
Tea has detoxifying properties. Alcohol is a toxic substance. It is tea's nature signal that gives it this property. Tea is a leaf and is the element Wood. It is the colour green and gains its strength in the spring. All these characteristics direct tea to the Liver. The Liver is the organ of detoxification. Therefore tea has detoxification properties, properties that no doubt help relieve a hangover.
Tea is a mild diuretic and also hydrates the body. Alcohol dehydrates the body fluids. We must remember that tea is mainly composed of water. Unlike other beverages such as coffee and alcohol, tea does not dehydrate. In fact, it does the very opposite and hydrates the body. Tea promotes the circulation of body fluid throughout the body because although it hydrates the body, its bitter flavour acts as a diuretic. Because tea is both a diuretic and can hydrate the body, it is beneficial in riding the body of alcohol’s toxic effects and regulating fluid levels in the body.
Tea directs energy upward, allows for the free flow of qi, and is a stimulant. Alcohol directs energy downward, restricts qi, and is a depressant. Actually, taken in small amounts alcohol can promote the movement of blood and qi in most people. Only when alcohol is consumed in large amounts does it result in restricting the healthful movement of qi. The qi of tea rises like the morning sun from East to West. Alcohol thins the blood and prevents it from nourishing the body, it clouds the mind. Tea strengthens the blood and nourishes the body, sharpening the mind. The effects of tea therefore work to balance and regulate the effects of alcohol. When someone is hungover, tea can pull them out of the sluggish, depressing, and hungover stupour that a night of drinking is sure to create.
So when crawling out of bed completely hungover, why not put that kettle on and have some tea. Surely it can help you get the spring back in your step.
Happy New Year!
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