Put the Kettle On

Winter is in full force in Upstate New York, and that means freezing temps, cloudy skies and a whole lot of snow and ice.

Yeah, it’s cold.

A lifelong resident of New York, the cold never bothered me when I was younger. I ran hot, rarely wearing long sleeves or sweatshirts and never wearing a jacket if it was above 30 degrees. I remember once in college (in Plattsburgh, one of the only places in New York colder than Rochester), wearing nothing but shorts and a tank top in front of an open window in January (that dorm heating).

But that is no longer the case, and these days I often find myself reaching for another layer or blanket to snuggle under. But a girl can only wear so many pairs of pants (4 is my record) before you have to seek other ways to keep warm.

Enter, tea.

I grew up with tea as a staple in my house. Most days, my mom would brew a pot and simmer a pitcher of tea to drink throughout the day. Our tea cabinet was always stocked and we even had a loose-lead tea infuser. I’ve reached for tea whenever I want something warm that isn’t coffee, or needed an herbal pick-me-up.

But recently, tea has ad a bit of resurgence in my life. I recently purchased an electric kettle that boils water in minutes and frankly, the tea game is changed. When my fiancé participated in sober January, we made a stop in the tea aisle at Wegmans to add a few new flavors.

Today, the entire top shelf of my lazy susan is dedicated to our tea collection. We have it all; black tea, white tea, herbal tea, low caffeine tea, extra caffeine tea, tea to wake you up and tea to help you sleep. We have chai, green, pomegranate, lemon, peppermint, orange, cinnamon and a few mixed blends.

The health benefits of tea are well-documented and studied. (Pro tip: milk in your tea reduces the antioxidant levels by up to 18%!) But tea continues to surprise me.

In a recent newsletter from Melissa Urban, founder of the Whole30 and all around wonderful human, introduced to me the practice in traditional Chinese medicine of maintaining balance in the body through mindful consumption of food, including increasing consumption of hot food and drinks in the winter months.

This stems from the belief of the five natures of food. “In traditional Chinese medicine, food is divided into five natures, called “siqi”: cold, cool, neutral, warm and hot. The nature of food is not determined by their actual temperature, but rather by what effects they have on a person’s body after consumption. When a person continually eats one type of food, it creates an imbalance in their body, and affects their immune system. Thus, one of the keys in Chinese medicine is to keep our body “neutral.”

In the winter, when temperatures plummet and the wind chill drags the Mercury down further, it becomes more important to eat warm and hot foods, in order to restore balance to our body. In Melissa’s newsletter, she discussed how a 30-day experiment of mindful consumption of only warm and hot foods helped her to feel more energetic and less “freezing all the time.”

With this in mind, I set the kettle on. I invite you to do the same.

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