Why foot soaks (foot baths) are good for you?

Why foot soaks (foot baths) are good for you?

Why foot soaks (foot baths) are good for you?

Don’t know where to start?

Don’t know why you should start?

Here are some answers to get you started from:

  • WHY you should do hot foot soaks
  • WHAT equipment you’ll need
  • HOW to do a foot soak
  • The BENEFITs of hot foot soaks
  • TIPs and TRICKs of hot foot soaks

This post started from an extended question around another post on “What does it mean to have cold hands and feet? How to replenish qi and yang“: 

Well, foot soaks or foot baths are one of my such lifestyle techniques that I use to improve my overall circulation in the body!  This is used in combination with a series of other techniques that are common in Traditional Chinese Medicine!  Keep reading to explore more!

Why are hot foot soaks so good for you?

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, doing regular foot soaks will:

 

  • Stimulate the flow in the body, allowing your Qi and blood to circulate better.  From a science perspective, heat expands things, so exposure to a heated environment will allow the skin, the nerves, the blood vessels, the lymph nodes, and the muscles to soften, loosen and expand somewhat, which will allow the blood and other liquids to flow more easily through the body.  
  • Reduce blood pressure.  According to multiple studies conducted (see additional sources below), even one 20 minutes foot soak in hot water will reduce blood pressure levels within the body.  Imagine the on-going benefits of this if you can do this repeatedly!
  • Detoxify your body through the opening of your pores and sweating it out (literally!).  As the hot water warms up your feet, it will begin to circulate warmer blood around your body to the point where you will feel warmth in your chest first and then eventually your forehead.  You will notice yourself sweating, which is a good thing!  This helps drive out toxins and clear our lymph nodes.
  • Deliver more nutrients and oxygen to parts of the body that are often colder, such as hands, feet, and neck.  Your body and organs need nutrients and oxygen in order to function, so enabling these to get there faster will allow your organs to function optimally.  This includes delivering more oxygen to key organs such as the heart and brain, which will also allow you to think more clearly.

 

  • Help calm the mind.  This is in connection with how hot foot soaks allow for more blood to pass through the brain over the same period of time, which means an increased flow of oxygen.  When paired with a steady, regular breath in and breath out (almost meditatively), this will help create clarity and calm in the brain and mind.  Often, doing a foot soak is a great moment to allow for some down time if you can do it in a private or quiet space.  I recommend being intentional about this to allow time from our busy lives to benefit both the mind and body simultaneously. 💗💗💗

How to do a foot soak

The most basic is to simply soak your feet in warm to hot water.  What my own Chinese doctor has suggested is to soak it until you break a sweat from your forehead.  At this point, you’ll know that the warm blood has worked it’s way up throughout your body enough to literally – break a sweat!

I was curious about testing time, so I’ve structured my foot soaks quite scientifically, but you don’t have to.  You can just soak until you feel that sweat and finish up.

What you’ll need:

  • A consistent source of hot (or warm) water
  • A bucket or foot bag to soak in (I’m using this product that my mom got for me!) 
  • A comfortable place to sit
  • Some water (or drinks) to stay hydrated
  • A book or something to occupy your time (meditating is also a great thing to do during this moment)
  • A towel (to dry off with afterwards)
  • A change of clothes or sweater (as you’re sweating, you’ll want to cool off gently)

If you’re testing time, add in:

  • A timer
Try foot soaks once a week!  It’s a great time to meditate and spend some “ME” time.
Ever wonder why you do a hot foot soak before you get a foot massage (in most Chinese spas)?

Some tips and tricks for doing hot foot soaks

  • I usually start with hotter water first and then add cooler water to adjust.  This is because you’d be surprised how hot you can take, but make sure you can truly soak in over a period of time.  It does cool over time though.  And be sure not to burn yourself!
  • You want to soak until you feel the heat first in your chest (you’ll definitely perspire from your chest first) and then eventually from your forehead and head.  This means the warmed blood from your feet is eventually making its way up to your head, which is what you want!
  • I’m using a deeper foot bag (vs a lower foot bucket which I refill as it cools).  This saves both water and energy as it is heat proof (it retains the heat within itself) and covers more surface area of the body to include up to my calves.
  • You can add Chinese herbs such as ginger or Astralagus root for added benefits.  Some people also use various salts.  Just be sure to thoroughly clean your bag or bucket afterwards.
  • I prefer to soak into the evening as it helps me wind down and relax.  Part of this is to treat it like a meditative and breathwork session as well.  Really lean into the moment to pause and focus on breath as you soak, this will help calm the body, mind, and allow you to sleep better at night.

Here are 5 lifestyle choices to help improve blood circulation and improve yang (and Qi), especially as we age!

Doing hot foot soaks is definitely one of my Chinese doctor’s suggestions as well something I’ve started doing more regularly!

  1. Yang, Xiao et al. “Maternal postnatal confinement practices and postpartum depression in Chinese populations: A systematic review.” PloS one vol. 18,10 e0293667. 30 Oct. 2023, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0293667
  2. Vyas, Samruddhi Chintaman et al. “Effect of hot arm and foot bath on heart rate variability and blood pressure in healthy volunteers.” Journal of complementary & integrative medicine vol. 17,1 /j/jcim.2019.17.issue-1/jcim-2018-0181/jcim-2018-0181.xml. 15 Aug. 2019, doi:10.1515/jcim-2018-0181

Some or all of these links may contain Amazon product referral links; as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. If you decide to use them, I would be grateful. If not, I am always thankful for your continued support! ❤️

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GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

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Making Frozen Chinese Soup in Bulk at Home (Saving Time and Effort)!

Making Frozen Chinese Soup in Bulk at Home (Saving Time and Effort)!

Making Frozen Chinese Soup in Bulk at Home (Saving Time and Effort)!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

How to use this guide:

  • This is purely a reference guide 
  • Do see a Chinese medicine practitioner as this information is not a replacement for a doctor

The benefits of making Chinese soup in bulk (frozen).

This idea started out as a delivery to a friend.  She was sick, super busy, and had a lot going on in her life, so I packed a few soup packs for her.  I was super primitive then, using saran wrap very poorly and causing so much waste, only to have some of them come undone in the freezer!

So that’s where I tested a few affordable options of vacuum sealers at home.  I wasn’t sure where I was going with it (follow your passion right?).

However, sharing this because so many people have started asking me how to make these, what equipment I’m using, and what the best combinations are.

I have also been sharing with friends and seeking feedback to make this a better experience!  Tips below!

The Business Case

So, what is the real quantifiable benefit of this?  It’s not an exact science at this point, but I am looking to do a more a thorough time study one day.  Just out of interest.

I did a survey when I first initially created these for friends and the time saving is phenomenal.

On average, it takes someone 2-3 hours of time to make a Chinese soup (beginning to end with checking). Compared to using frozen premade soup packs using a rice cooker, it takes 5 minutes of work (and then 60 mins of no supervision) with an upfront investment of 2-3 hours to make 6 soup packs.  So on average, you are saving 14 hours of time over 6 soups.  The math isn’t perfect, but this was my best estimate based on answers from friends.

I would love to hear about your experience – you can leave it in the comments below or on any of my socials and I will collect it as a data point!

 

EQUIPMENT USED FOR MAKING FROZEN SOUP PACKS

I get this question a lot, especially as I am now making more clips of these soup packs as showcased above.  The real additional equipment you'll need is the vacuum sealer and bags.  You can most certainly boil these in pots as well.  I would love to hear your comments on how this is going and how you're finding the different equipment.  My house has now turned into a soup factory - literally!  LOL.

Start with a low cost option that also comes with a few pre-sealed bags.  You really don't need anything fancy to do this job!

These come in handy especially as you finish the ones that come with the starter kit.  And I tend to give a lot of my soup packs to friends! HOORAY!

I get this question a lot about which rice cooker I am using.  It is a 1 L (5 cups) one that I use in both HK and Toronto.  Amazing product!  

Amazing product in both usability and durability.  Comes in many colours!  I've used this to ladle congee into freezer bags - highly recommend it! To freeze congee in bulk.

Additional tips for making Chinese soup packs in bulk (for freezing):

I won’t go into too much detail here as all the details are in the video post, but I will add some overarching things to think about as you embark on this journey!

  • It is all about experimentation and experiencing different recipes and combinations as frozen soup products for you and your family.  Don’t be afraid to try try try… and if it didn’t work out, try something, or try again later.
  • Teach your children to make the soups themselves, too!  This is such a helpful step and if they can use a rice cooker, they can make this soup.
  • Give the love of soup.  See further down.  I am a huge advocate of creating and giving and spreading LOVE and in this way, LOVE is through soups!
  • You can definitely do with sweet Chinese soups as well, such as sweet potato dessert soup!  The vegetables become soft and you can drop in the sugar really towards the end and mix and serve!

 

GIVE LOVE through SOUPS!

I actually do this as part of my personal mission to create love, give, and spread love around the world.

You see, creating love doesn’t have to be this big rah rah thing.  It can be as simple as making extra soup packs for your busy friends, for people who want to make soups (but don’t know how), or people who want to experience Chinese soups and their benefits, or anyone whom you wish to offer your gift (that’s not for me to judge) 💗💗💗.

And I have found a way I can spread love with something that I am deeply passionate about!  How beautiful!  Just something to think about as you “spread” your own “love” through your highest excitement!  It truly is such a wonderful thing for me, to share this blog, my videos, my experiences, my soup packs to everyone!

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GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

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Homemade do-it-yourself Hot Pot for Dinner!

Homemade do-it-yourself Hot Pot for Dinner!

Homemade do-it-yourself Hot Pot for Dinner!

Soup Name:

Homemade do-it-yourself hot pot for dinner!  Tonight, is a tomato soup base.

Traditional Chinese Name:

番茄火鍋 (fān qié huǒ guō), aka in Cantonese, DA BEEN LO!

Nature:  Warming

Taste: Sweet and savory 

For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

Here are the key things for a successful HOT POT dinner!

  • You can drop in longer boil ingredients ahead of the “hot potting” such as carrots, white radish, winter melon, or corn to allow more time for them to cook and soften.
  • Slice starchy and heavy vegetables very thin so they cook fast.  This applies to all radishes (white or green), winter melon, carrots, potatoes, lotus roots, pumpkin, squash, most melons.
  • Use an oil scooper for the foam and oil that accumulates as a result of cooking meats.
  • Using meats will change the flavour of the soup, this is especially common for beef and mutton or lamb (meats with heavier flavours), so depending how flavourful you like drinking your soup, try both (beginning and end)!
  • This also applies to the types of vegetables used with some being heavier in flavour.  Great hot pot vegetables include:  lettuce, siu choy or napa cabbage, cabbage, watercress, bok choy, spinach.  Some with stronger flavours such as wolfberry leaves do change the flavour of the soup base!
  • Get creative with the ingredients!  Most anything that you can boil can be used for hot pot!  The ones we love as a family include:  all forms of tofu, konjac noodles (or potato noodles, or all noodles!), all types of seafood (shrimp, fish fillets, crab or lobster, clams), all types of fish or beef or tofu cakes or balls, deep fried fish skin, all sorts of dumplings.
  • I will always keep boiling water ready in case we need to top up our soup.  Be sure to add either hot soup or hot water to maintain the steady temperature of the pot (instead of cold water).
  • And one more, the customized dipping sauce.  THIS IS SO KEY!  I love how we get to individualize whatever you need.  See below as I explore this! 

Making amazing dipping sauces for hot pot!

OK, trying to be as comprehensive as possible for the options you have when it comes to dipping sauces for hot pots.  Mind you, some Regions or Asian cultures don’t use dipping sauces,  but some other Regional versions have a billion options!  Try them all!

Ingredients for dipping sauces:

  • soy sauce
  • sweet soy sauce
  • hoisin sauce
  • satay sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • hot oil
  • hot sauce
  • sesame sauce
  • sesame oil
  • peanut butter
  • black vinegar
  • black garlic
  • fresh diced garlic
  • fresh diced ginger
  • fresh diced green onions
  • fresh diced shallots
  • fresh diced spicy peppers
  • fried diced garlic
  • fried diced shallots
  • raw egg
  • any others I may have missed?  Would love to hear!

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Tea Name: Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 止咳茶 (zhǐké chá) – direct translation here is “anti-cough” tea.  There are many teas that have earned the right to this label, so it’s just easier to use it as such instead of labeling all the...

How to make vegetarian green and white radish carrot Chinese herbal soup packs

Tea Name: Vegetarian Green and White Radish and Carrots Chinese Herbal Soup Packs Traditional Chinese Name: 紅青蘿蔔湯 (hóng qing luóbo tang). Literal translation is "red pale radish soup".  The red means the carrots (usually), the pale means the green radish (usually),...

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Tea Name: Spleen strengthening damp removing herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 健脾祛濕茶 (jiàn pí qū shī chá) – direct translation here is “spleen strength remove damp” tea.  This is also quite a generic name in terms of the function of the tea rather than the...

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Soup Name: Fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli and napa cabbage (optional vegetarian-styled) Traditional Chinese Name: 鹹蛋集菜湯 (xián dàn jí cài tāng) – direct translation here is "salty egg vegetable soup". Nature:  Neutral Taste: Salty and sweet (You can read...

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Tea Name: Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 止咳茶 (zhǐké chá) – direct translation here is “anti-cough” tea.  There are many teas that have earned the right to this label, so it’s just easier to use it as such instead of labeling all the...

GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

Is your fish too fishy for soups? How to use fish in Chinese soups

Is your fish too fishy for soups? How to use fish in Chinese soups

Is your FISH too fishy for your soup? 
HERE’s How to use Fish in CHINESe SOUPS 

Thank you for your questions!  These make great topics for me to explore further and share my love of making soups and the best way to do it!  So if you have any comments or questions, or would love to be features, do leave a comment in any of my social channels, links all below.

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

You can explore more about some Traditional Chinese Medicine theories in these posts.

Thank you for the question!

This is a great observation and question from a follower.  I kind of took for granted that because I knew how to use fish, that it would be common knowledge, but now that I think back on it, I actually avoided using fish for a large part of my cooking career because of this exact thought about “fishy” fish.

 

Throughout my journey, I’ve learned there are so many ways to address the “fishiness” in using fresh fish in soups.  The Japanese versus the Koreans versus the Chinese and even versus the South East Asians all have different methods in which to handle fish.  I’ve explored a few in this video on YouTube.

Here are some tips for using fish in soups:

  • You can either pan-fry or blanch your fish with ginger to minimize the fishy taste.  I prefer pan-frying because it really creates that fragrant smell and enhances the flavors of the soup!
  • Use a fish bag!  This is important especially if you’re using small fish.  This will help keep the fish together and the bones from disintegrating all over the soup.
  • I tend to use fish for quick boils soup as they cook really fast and begin to break down and shred the longer it boils, especially if the water is bubbling more, or use a fish bag.
  • I’ll use fish with bones in to keep the fish intact.  If you want to use filets, flash boil them or do a genuine quick boil (20 minutes or less) on medium heat.  This type of fish is used less for the taste of the broth and more as a protein in the soup.  
  • In general though, Chinese will use pork (pork shank or pork bones) along with fish (to add more flavours).
  • There are so many types of fish to use in soups such as:  Grass carp, salmon bones, all types of fish heads (bass, grouper, carp).

The great thing about understanding how yin and yang is balanced is that this also pairs with the cooking styles of Chinese soups!

You can follow this post on “How Different Styles of Chinese Soups are Made“.

 

EQUIPMENT USED

To answer your questions on what equipment I'm using, I've built a section here where you can find and explore what I'm using to make soups.  Ingredients are a little harder, but I will do my best as I source them around.  However, you can always message me on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Facebook, and I will reply and try to point you in some direction!  

A great help for fish or small bones in soups, including small ingredients such as barley, fox nuts, spices just to keep everything together.

A MUST HAVE in the kitchen!  Energy saving, cost effective, and perfect for busy chefs!  Check out my article here that explains it.

Another MUST HAVE in the kitchen for soups!  It's so fine that it will scoop off the top oil and foam layer when using meats in your soup!

I use these types of stove top safe tea pots to make most of my herbal teas!

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Tea Name: Vegetarian Green and White Radish and Carrots Chinese Herbal Soup Packs Traditional Chinese Name: 紅青蘿蔔湯 (hóng qing luóbo tang). Literal translation is "red pale radish soup".  The red means the carrots (usually), the pale means the green radish (usually),...

Strengthen spleen and remove dampness with this warming Chinese herbal tea

Tea Name: Spleen strengthening damp removing herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 健脾祛濕茶 (jiàn pí qū shī chá) – direct translation here is “spleen strength remove damp” tea.  This is also quite a generic name in terms of the function of the tea rather than the...

How to make fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli, tofu, and napa cabbage

Soup Name: Fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli and napa cabbage (optional vegetarian-styled) Traditional Chinese Name: 鹹蛋集菜湯 (xián dàn jí cài tāng) – direct translation here is "salty egg vegetable soup". Nature:  Neutral Taste: Salty and sweet (You can read...

What to eat in Taiwan… here’s to cycling and eating my way through Taiwan!

If you're planning to visit Taiwan, here are a few key things you should look for during your visit.  I've been to Taiwan many times and every time, it feels like the first time!  The food options are many and continue to evolve and change with every visit! For...

How to soothe a cough with this Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea!

Tea Name: Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 止咳茶 (zhǐké chá) – direct translation here is “anti-cough” tea.  There are many teas that have earned the right to this label, so it’s just easier to use it as such instead of labeling all the...

How to make vegetarian green and white radish carrot Chinese herbal soup packs

Tea Name: Vegetarian Green and White Radish and Carrots Chinese Herbal Soup Packs Traditional Chinese Name: 紅青蘿蔔湯 (hóng qing luóbo tang). Literal translation is "red pale radish soup".  The red means the carrots (usually), the pale means the green radish (usually),...

Strengthen spleen and remove dampness with this warming Chinese herbal tea

Tea Name: Spleen strengthening damp removing herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 健脾祛濕茶 (jiàn pí qū shī chá) – direct translation here is “spleen strength remove damp” tea.  This is also quite a generic name in terms of the function of the tea rather than the...

How to make fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli, tofu, and napa cabbage

Soup Name: Fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli and napa cabbage (optional vegetarian-styled) Traditional Chinese Name: 鹹蛋集菜湯 (xián dàn jí cài tāng) – direct translation here is "salty egg vegetable soup". Nature:  Neutral Taste: Salty and sweet (You can read...

What to eat in Taiwan… here’s to cycling and eating my way through Taiwan!

If you're planning to visit Taiwan, here are a few key things you should look for during your visit.  I've been to Taiwan many times and every time, it feels like the first time!  The food options are many and continue to evolve and change with every visit! For...

How to soothe a cough with this Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea!

Tea Name: Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 止咳茶 (zhǐké chá) – direct translation here is “anti-cough” tea.  There are many teas that have earned the right to this label, so it’s just easier to use it as such instead of labeling all the...

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FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

Chinese Herbal Tea Ideas for Traveling!

Chinese Herbal Tea Ideas for Traveling!

Chinese Herbal Tea ideas for Traveling

(A TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE)

When we think Traditional Chinese medicine or herbal teas, we think of something that’s hard to make, difficult to drink, and full of unknown ingredients.  However, there also exists is beautiful happy medium where Chinese herbal teas can be delightfully delicious, easy-to-make, readily-accessible, and travel ready!  Read on for more!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

Welcome to the TRAVEL SERIES for Chinese Herbal Teas!

Since travel is back on and my work requires me to be back in the air, I’ve started to create and take with me some Chinese herbal teas to help with my health, condition, and scale back on coffees and regular teas, substituting them with a more natural choice of drinks.  

A few key reminders that help with travel:

  • I will always bring a thermal flask with me everywhere I do.  You can fill up with hot water in the lounges, any restaurant, or in Asian airports, anywhere in the airport (seriously, HKIA or Hong Kong International Airport has hot water dispensers everywhere!)
  • I will also pre-create my teas and add all the ingredients for 1-2 cups of tea together
  • I tend to bring ingredients that don’t spoil easily and have good dry shelf live (such as dried flowers)
  • Double check that the hotel or place you’re staying in has a fridge you can use, such as a mini fridge or bar fridge.  The ingredients tend to be small enough that you can slot them in between the drinks.  This is great for dried ingredients such as dried red dates, or longans, or wolfberries.
  • I will also sometimes bring with me small portions of honey or rock sugar to supplement some of the teas 

See the mind and body as connected and whole rather than separate.  See the organs as connected and shared, rather than as individual organs.  Think of yourself as one unit, one system.

You are whole.

 

The great thing about understanding how yin and yang is balanced is that this also pairs with the cooking styles of Chinese soups!

You can follow this post on “How Different Styles of Chinese Soups are Made“.

 

WHERE YOU CAN BUY THESE TEAS & MY POT!

This is the type of stove top safe tea pot that I use for making my teas!  This is great because it's dishwasher safe, it's an all-in-one, easy-to-clean pot that I use. 

I bought these amazing eco friendly individually bagged pu'er tea which I carry to the office or on travel!  You can find these on amazon and they come highly rated!

I have also tried these oolong versions of the individually bagged teas!  You can also get this from amazon.  They are amazing!

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

For further reading, I’ve found some more scientific and published articles.  Here are some to read up on: 

EXPLORE MORE

How to make vegetarian green and white radish carrot Chinese herbal soup packs

Tea Name: Vegetarian Green and White Radish and Carrots Chinese Herbal Soup Packs Traditional Chinese Name: 紅青蘿蔔湯 (hóng qing luóbo tang). Literal translation is "red pale radish soup".  The red means the carrots (usually), the pale means the green radish (usually),...

Strengthen spleen and remove dampness with this warming Chinese herbal tea

Tea Name: Spleen strengthening damp removing herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 健脾祛濕茶 (jiàn pí qū shī chá) – direct translation here is “spleen strength remove damp” tea.  This is also quite a generic name in terms of the function of the tea rather than the...

How to make fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli, tofu, and napa cabbage

Soup Name: Fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli and napa cabbage (optional vegetarian-styled) Traditional Chinese Name: 鹹蛋集菜湯 (xián dàn jí cài tāng) – direct translation here is "salty egg vegetable soup". Nature:  Neutral Taste: Salty and sweet (You can read...

What to eat in Taiwan… here’s to cycling and eating my way through Taiwan!

If you're planning to visit Taiwan, here are a few key things you should look for during your visit.  I've been to Taiwan many times and every time, it feels like the first time!  The food options are many and continue to evolve and change with every visit! For...

How to soothe a cough with this Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea!

Tea Name: Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 止咳茶 (zhǐké chá) – direct translation here is “anti-cough” tea.  There are many teas that have earned the right to this label, so it’s just easier to use it as such instead of labeling all the...

How to make vegetarian green and white radish carrot Chinese herbal soup packs

Tea Name: Vegetarian Green and White Radish and Carrots Chinese Herbal Soup Packs Traditional Chinese Name: 紅青蘿蔔湯 (hóng qing luóbo tang). Literal translation is "red pale radish soup".  The red means the carrots (usually), the pale means the green radish (usually),...

Strengthen spleen and remove dampness with this warming Chinese herbal tea

Tea Name: Spleen strengthening damp removing herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 健脾祛濕茶 (jiàn pí qū shī chá) – direct translation here is “spleen strength remove damp” tea.  This is also quite a generic name in terms of the function of the tea rather than the...

How to make fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli, tofu, and napa cabbage

Soup Name: Fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli and napa cabbage (optional vegetarian-styled) Traditional Chinese Name: 鹹蛋集菜湯 (xián dàn jí cài tāng) – direct translation here is "salty egg vegetable soup". Nature:  Neutral Taste: Salty and sweet (You can read...

What to eat in Taiwan… here’s to cycling and eating my way through Taiwan!

If you're planning to visit Taiwan, here are a few key things you should look for during your visit.  I've been to Taiwan many times and every time, it feels like the first time!  The food options are many and continue to evolve and change with every visit! For...

How to soothe a cough with this Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea!

Tea Name: Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 止咳茶 (zhǐké chá) – direct translation here is “anti-cough” tea.  There are many teas that have earned the right to this label, so it’s just easier to use it as such instead of labeling all the...

GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

How food flavours affect your health from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective

How food flavours affect your health from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective

HOW FOOD FLAVOURS AFFECT YOUR HEALTH

(A TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE)

There is a Chinese Medicine phrase that states “Food and Medicine come from the same source”.   If you think about it, it totally does!  All of the ingredients found within Traditional Chinese Medicine are from organic sources and you can literally “eat” any of them, whether it’s from an animal (or an animal by-product), plant source (including roots and beans), or anything from the ocean (even coral and seaweed)!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

Some principles of diet from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective:

  • Foods are also classified in physical temperature.  The literal measurement of temperature of the food in degrees Celcius of Fahrenheit.  
  • Foods also carry taste categories (they usually have two):  bitter, sweet, salty (or savory), pungent, or sour.  Spicy isn’t a taste category, but can be classified in nature.
  • Time of consumption based on our meridian cycle (or flow of energy depending on the time of day).  This can usually be classified as morning, noon, or night.

Why does taste matter (from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective)?

In the end, TCM is about finding balance in the person as a whole.  While I know primarily it addresses more the physical construct of the body, it also does support the mental portion in some ways such as calming the spirit and calming the mind.

Paying attention to temperature, nature, and flavour will help you on your journey to a healthy body and mind.  It just makes things easier and can help you make informed choices about what to eat, how to cook, and how much to eat, targeting specific opportunities or challenges in your well being. 

For example:

  • I want to cover temperature first (even though I know this article is about flavour).  As the stomach is the first place where food is received for true processing (in which it’s converted to a vital nutrient), cold foods will put a strain on the stomach as it will then need additional energy to heat it as the digestion process needs warmth.  This then means this energy is pulled from other organs and parts of the body that could have otherwise be used for something more useful.  And, we have control of what temperature the food goes into our body!  You can check out this video on why I drink warm water (all day long) and especially first thing in the morning when I wake!  Honestly, I even drink warm water on a run or ride… it’s weird, but did take some getting used to!

Examples:

  • Bitter foods are known to be cooling in TCM.  That means, they are more yin (instead of yang) and help with excess yang or yin deficiency.  Examples of bitter foods that have strong cooling effects include bitter melon, which is known as a super cooling good, especially if used in soups.  This also includes turnips, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, celery, radishes (you know the white radishes are also super cooling!).  You can taste the slight bitterness in these foods, especially when they are raw and reduce in bitterness once cooked, but they still do retain their cooling effect.
  • From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, bitter herbs mirror bitter foods in that they are cooling and can clear heat, while sour herbs and foods are astringent (in that they can shrink or tighten cells or skin, can remove oils, and are antibacterial.  

Sour, bitter, and salty ingredients and  Chinese herbs increase yin in the body, focusing on having more internal effect and having a downward movement.

Sweet, pungent, and neutral ingredients and Chinese herbs increase yang in the body, focusing on outward movement and having more external effects.

 

  • Pungent foods and herbs such as cinnamon, peppermint, garlic, ginger, chili, black or white pepper, help disperse and remove obstruction of the Qi and blood in our bodies.  They help push the Qi and blood through the body and are particularly good for clearing colds, flus, and infections our bodies by opening the pores and promoting sweat, which helps eliminate the unwanted pathogens from the body.  This is why if you eat a lot of ginger, you’ll definitely start feeling warm and sweating. 
  • This spicy sweet ginger tea can be quite pungent and punchy if you have enough ginger!  Depending on how spicy and strong you’d like it, add more ginger (either grated or sliced makes it even more potent!).  This tea is a combination of sweet and pungent in taste, but definitely gets the blood flowing and warm!  
  • Sweet foods from a Chinese medicine perspective is different from that of a Western view of sweet.  It’s not the same chocolate or white sugar sweet that you taste.  The taste of these “sweet” ingredients are more subtle, gentle, and lingering in the mouth and throat.   Sweet includes ingredients such as red dates, ginseng, carrots, lamb, licorice, sweet potatoes, fruits and meats also fall into this category.  And the key is that this sweet is consumed in small, controlled amounts and small quantities.  In moderation really!  Small amounts of sweetness in our diets and in Chinese medicine help tonify the body, but too much sweet will dampen the body
  • This red and blue dates tea is a great example if a tea that tonifies the blood and Qi and is slightly sweet (and a bit sour) to taste!
  • Salty foods from a Chinese medicine perspective provide a diuretic effect, eliminating water from the body, and reducing swelling and lumps in the body.  Salty ingredients can include meats (remember foods can have 2 flavours, so meats can be both sweet and salty), seaweed, all seafood, and even salt itself.
  • Sour ingredients are function opposite to pungent ingredients in their support to the body, which can include reducing excess sweating, slowing down flow of blood and Qi, especially if it comes to bleeding or diarrhoea.  Sour ingredients include lemons, vinegar (both black and white), unripe fruit, crab apples, or dried hawthorn are some examples. 

The great thing about understanding how yin and yang is balanced is that this also pairs with the cooking styles of Chinese soups!

You can follow this post on “How Different Styles of Chinese Soups are Made“.

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

For further reading, I’ve found some more scientific and published articles.  Here are some to read up on: 

EXPLORE MORE

How to make vegetarian green and white radish carrot Chinese herbal soup packs

Tea Name: Vegetarian Green and White Radish and Carrots Chinese Herbal Soup Packs Traditional Chinese Name: 紅青蘿蔔湯 (hóng qing luóbo tang). Literal translation is "red pale radish soup".  The red means the carrots (usually), the pale means the green radish (usually),...

Strengthen spleen and remove dampness with this warming Chinese herbal tea

Tea Name: Spleen strengthening damp removing herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 健脾祛濕茶 (jiàn pí qū shī chá) – direct translation here is “spleen strength remove damp” tea.  This is also quite a generic name in terms of the function of the tea rather than the...

How to make fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli, tofu, and napa cabbage

Soup Name: Fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli and napa cabbage (optional vegetarian-styled) Traditional Chinese Name: 鹹蛋集菜湯 (xián dàn jí cài tāng) – direct translation here is "salty egg vegetable soup". Nature:  Neutral Taste: Salty and sweet (You can read...

What to eat in Taiwan… here’s to cycling and eating my way through Taiwan!

If you're planning to visit Taiwan, here are a few key things you should look for during your visit.  I've been to Taiwan many times and every time, it feels like the first time!  The food options are many and continue to evolve and change with every visit! For...

How to soothe a cough with this Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea!

Tea Name: Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 止咳茶 (zhǐké chá) – direct translation here is “anti-cough” tea.  There are many teas that have earned the right to this label, so it’s just easier to use it as such instead of labeling all the...

How to make vegetarian green and white radish carrot Chinese herbal soup packs

Tea Name: Vegetarian Green and White Radish and Carrots Chinese Herbal Soup Packs Traditional Chinese Name: 紅青蘿蔔湯 (hóng qing luóbo tang). Literal translation is "red pale radish soup".  The red means the carrots (usually), the pale means the green radish (usually),...

Strengthen spleen and remove dampness with this warming Chinese herbal tea

Tea Name: Spleen strengthening damp removing herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 健脾祛濕茶 (jiàn pí qū shī chá) – direct translation here is “spleen strength remove damp” tea.  This is also quite a generic name in terms of the function of the tea rather than the...

How to make fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli, tofu, and napa cabbage

Soup Name: Fragrant salted egg soup base with vermicelli and napa cabbage (optional vegetarian-styled) Traditional Chinese Name: 鹹蛋集菜湯 (xián dàn jí cài tāng) – direct translation here is "salty egg vegetable soup". Nature:  Neutral Taste: Salty and sweet (You can read...

What to eat in Taiwan… here’s to cycling and eating my way through Taiwan!

If you're planning to visit Taiwan, here are a few key things you should look for during your visit.  I've been to Taiwan many times and every time, it feels like the first time!  The food options are many and continue to evolve and change with every visit! For...

How to soothe a cough with this Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea!

Tea Name: Chinese orange monk fruit herbal tea Traditional Chinese Name: 止咳茶 (zhǐké chá) – direct translation here is “anti-cough” tea.  There are many teas that have earned the right to this label, so it’s just easier to use it as such instead of labeling all the...

GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

FOLLOW US AND SHARE.