China has a very long and intimate history with tea (Camellia sinensis). Tea, next to water, is the most consumed beverage in the world. A great deal of history, legend, and culture has been based on this simple but very pleasing drink. While tea use originally started as a medicinal herb, it has evolved into a staple beverage of not only China, but of many other countries around the world.
Tea primarily contains antioxidants, caffeine, and the amino acid theanine. Most of us understand the stimulating properties of caffeine that tea can provide, but did you also know that the theanine in tea “…has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress, may produce feelings of relaxation and improves cognition and mood when taken in combination with caffeine.” The antioxidants found in tea “are also widely used as ingredients in dietary supplements in the hope of maintaining health and preventing diseases such as cancer and coronary heart disease.”
In the book “Watching the Tree” by author Adeline Yen Mah, the author recalls her Aunt telling her her when she was a child that “tea sharpens the mind, soothes the stomach, and nourishes the qi.”
From what I’ve studied about Chinese medicine, the Chinese idea of health has always focused on the qi (chi) as the vital health and strength giving energy within one’s body. In studying Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan), I have learned a great deal about qi and its importance in the practice of Taijiquan. Ever since I was a teenager I have enjoyed drinking tea. Nowadays, not a day goes by I haven’t had at least one cup of black, green, or oolong style tea; oolong being my favorite of the three primary styles. I love drinking tea as much as I love practicing and learning Taijiquan. This led me to thinking about a few questions I thought some of you might help in answering for me:
1. If tea can “nourish the qi”, can drinking tea really help improve your qi?
2. When practicing Taiji it’s generally accepted that you need to relax and focus. Because tea contains theanine with caffeine which can aid in relaxation and cognition, wouldn’t drinking tea before practicing Taiji help improve these two aspects of practice? Would it be wise to use an aid in the improvement of these two aspects, such as tea?
3. Does anyone know if tea is mentioned in any way in any of the classical or even modern literature of Taiji?
[Ref. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea, ]http://www.amazon.com/Watching-Tree-Happiness-Traditions-Spiritual/dp/0767904117]