Ancient Chinese Secret


Even though the picture may give a clue to the “secret”, the question remains, secret to what?  Well, we will get there!

While traveling in China last year (good fun while at a good value), nearly every hotel had a hot water maker similar to the one shown.  And, being we were in China, the tea bags were available with a variety of flavors available.  Somewhere during the middle of our (my wife and I) trip, I commented to my wife, “Boy, this would be something I would not mind having at home.”  The trip ended and since the last water heater was not able to fit into our luggage (not really), it remained on my Christmas list.  By my own admission, I am hard to shop for.  Thus, almost everything on my list ends up being wrapped and stuffed under the artificial Christmas tree.  (If you need me to say directly I got the heater, “I got the heater!”

I enjoyed it during the winter and spring, but as we moved into summer, the “teapot” spent nearly all of its collecting dust on our counter.  That is until about 3 weeks ago….our exchange students arrived.  It did not take them long to practically adopt the teapot as their very own.  (They also made it nearly impossible to keep coffee/tea mugs clean.)  Remarkably, they just heated the water w/o tea when they drank it. And, drink it they did.  Specifically, our Chinese student drank the warm/hot water almost exclusively.  Her claim was drinking the hot water would cure her of the cold she caught in New York prior to arriving at our door.  She had to promise me for a couple days that the cold/cough could be taken out by hot water before it happened.  When it did, she got some satisfaction out of getting better w/o our “wacky” (I don’t think she used this word–my interpretation of her actions) western medicine. Because all water must be boiled in China before drinking, the logic seemed solid for drinking hot water, but would drinking hot water allow a skeptical American to dodge an extended illness?

Since I really had nothing to lose, I decided to give it a shot. I attempted the “hot water” challenge for 2 days. (I began this attempt 5 days ago.)  During that time I drank coffee, tea (in bags I drank green tea and other varieties from Trader Joes, and loose tea brought by our Chinese student–two pinches in the bottom of the cup—MAN, does it expand as it rehydrates!) and the plain hot water.  Drinking hot water might seem fine when you just crawl in from the desert and mumble through cracked lips, “Water”.  But, drinking hot water while an ice maker drops a load inside the freezer seems just plain wrong.  Regardless of how disconcerting this exercise may have felt, for two days I held firm.  I did have the occasional sweats that are sometimes a part of being sick.  I was not sure if they were regular sweats or sweats induced because of the oral enemas I was subjecting myself to. (It just seems weird using this word in this context because it summons up some childhood memorie.  Having those memories while in my adult body is certainly no where near any “happy place” I would describe for anyone!)

As I look back over the illness, I am not quite sure how to evaluate my recovery.  I do have a couple of lingering symptoms, but I think they are part of my “normal” recovery pattern.  The real question still remains:  Does drinking hot water shorten the length of the viruses reign in your body?   Is “hot water” a mass hypnosis technique conducting on the entire Chinese population?  Is “sweat tea” and “Coke” a product cleverly engineered by big business to make us all smile and/or speak southern?  Regardless of the outcome, it doesn’t hurt to try out a few “secrets” from other cultures.  If it doesn’t kill you…..something else will.  But, you will get a few cultural experiences along the way.


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