大暑(Dàshǔ) is the 12th solar term of the 24 solar terms. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 120° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 135°. Dàshǔ usually starts around July 23th (7/22-7/24) and continues to about August 7th. It is the time of year with the longest duration of sunshine, highest average temperatures, and greatest and most frequent rainfall and thunderstorms. Because of these weather characteristics, tea buds grow extremely fast, so tea can be picked twice within three months.
Summer teas are mostly dark in color, and the leaves are thin and hard. As the temperature rises, the ultraviolet rays become stronger, causing the aroma of the tea to weaken. Conversely, the taste of astringency and bitterness increases. That’s why summer tea is usually used as low-value commercial tea or the raw material of bottled tea. Some tea farmers do not even harvest summer tea, instead using the leaves and stems as fertilizer for tea trees, a good method to protect tea trees and extend their lifespan.
The fact that summer tea cannot become a high-end tea does not mean that it is worthless. In the middle of summer, eating bitter foods is good for health and can eliminate heat in the body. Heatstroke symptoms such as fatigue, lack of concentration, profuse sweating, thirst, nausea, etc. are likely to appear during this high temperature period. From the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine health care, if you stay in an air-conditioned room for a long time and drink ice or cold food to cool off the heat, it will affect body's heat dissipation function and allow cold air to penetrate the body. The high temperature of summer may cause loss of appetite, and excessive fatigue may also easily cause stomach problems. Therefore, light and easily digestible food should be the mainstay during these hot spells.
To counteract the negative aspects of hot weather, the diet should include edible loofah, cucumber, winter melon, watermelon, and other kinds of melons and mung beans. These are the best choices to cool off the summer heat. In order to stimulate appetite and reduce gastrointestinal irritation, small amounts of herbs or fruit can be added to tea. Besides relieving the negative effects of high temperatures, herbs also add flavor to tea beverages.
If you are suffering from the heat, try adding one of these herbs to your oolong tea:
Hawthorn is rich in vitamin C and carotene, which can help enhance immunity, prevent ageing, and regulate menstrual pain. Hawthorn tastes sour, and the reported benefits include stimulating appetite, aiding digestion, inhibiting bacterial activity, and avoiding diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Careful though - people with bad digestion must use it only sparingly. Pregnant women should not consume it at all, and it should not be taken while eating seafood.
Chrysanthemum has a cooling effect on the body. It has an unusual taste between sweet and bitter. Some of the reported medical effects include suppressing a hyperactive liver, improving the eyesight, and it is used as an anti-inflammatory and for detoxification. It is an herb for clear heat, and it can protect eye health, improve dizziness, and treat headache and symptoms of wind-heat type cold.
However, because of its cooling effects, pregnant women and people with allergies, weak spleens, and stomach problems need to use it with caution.
There are many species of Mentha (also known as mint), of which Peppermint and Spearmint are the most commonly used varieties. The main components of mint are menthol and menthone. They have the effect of stimulating the central nervous system, so they can help to improve mood and mental alertness.
Mint salves have a refreshing effect, as do edible products, which are also antipyretic and can aid the digestive system during the Major Heat period.
In contrast to Peppermint, Spearmint's main ingredient is carvone, which has a lighter taste and sweeter aroma which is more suitable for making tea. However, taking a large amount of peppermint or spearmint may cause coldness because of its cool-natured quality.
Mint tea should be avoided at bedtime to avoid excessive stimulation and difficulty falling asleep.
Pineapple jam: Pineapple (500g) cut into small pieces, bring to a boil with brown sugar (50g) and rock sugar (70g) over medium-low heat. Continuous stirring is required during the process until the sauce is about to dry, add 30ml of lemon juice. The pineapple jam is done, it needs to be sealed and refrigerated.
Make a cup of tea, add some pineapple jam and ice cubes according to taste, and you have a cup of delicious pineapple iced tea.
Simple cold brew tea is a good choice for the Major Heat period, especially for oolong tea which is semi-oxidized which can refresh and help digestion. It’s very easy to make cold brew tea – mix tea leaves (6-8 grams) with cold water (1 liter) and refrigerate 4-8 hours.
For all of the herbs and tea beverages mentioned, the base tea can be green tea, oolong tea or black tea according to your preference. Let’s spend the Major Heat period trying out all these different tea beverages!