Why 5 elements is the key for brewing tea?

January 27, 2021

Why 5 elements is the key for brewing tea?

In ancient Chinese medical science, the key to Chinese herbal medicine is to choose a combination of plant species based on the particular symptoms and characteristics of the patient and guided by the various theories of traditional Chinese medicine. There are many schools of thought on the causes of disease and the best way to formulate herbal medicines to tackle them.

One of the most influential theories is the principle of jun-chen-zuo-shi(君臣佐使). The jun (emperor) herbs treat the main cause or primary symptoms of a disease. The chen (minister) herbs serve to augment or broaden the effects of jun, and relieve secondary symptoms. The zuo (assistant) herbs are used to modulate the effects of jun and chen, and to counteract the toxic or side effects of these herbs. The shi (courier) herbs are included in many formulae to ensure that all components in the prescription are well absorbed, and to help deliver or guide them to the target organs.
So based on this theory, to choose which elements as the emperor, which elements as minister, assistant or courier for different person become a very important key to choose right tea for different people to drink.

As we mentioned in our online course - Foundations of Chinese Tea, no matter what different kinds of names of teas you get, there are always has six major different kinds: Black Tea, Yellow Tea, Green Tea, White Tea, Dark Tea and Oolong Tea. Based on the traditional Chinese medicine theory, tea is original is a medicine, it’s not a simple beverage, and different teas relate with different elements, has different medical benefits:
Basically the five elements include: Metal / Wood / Water / Fire / Earth.
The five elements are actually not only relating each other, also support or control each other. So between those five elements there are support cycle and control cycle and weakening cycle are existing.

The support cycle ( In Chinese called Sheng) is the relationship more or less like one gives another the nutrient as the supporting relationship, it’s sort of very nurturing relationship between the two.

(Fire is support Earth / Earth support metal / Metal support Water/ Water support Wood / Wood support Fire)

The control cycle (In Chinese called Ke) is the relationship more or less like just as the name’s meaning: control. When one is controlling other is too much, or doesn’t have the energy to control good enough (both are imbalance way), then the one which supposed be controlled will often imbalance, then it will be causing us lots of health disease.

(Fire is control Metal / Metal is control Wood / Wood is control Earth / Earth is control Water / Water is control Fire)

For example: In traditional Chinese medicine theory, Wood can comb the earth energy, let earth move smoothly, at same time can avoid to have too much earth energy to grow over too much metal)

The weakening (insulting) cycle (In Chinese called Wu) is an imbalance within the controlling cycle, where that, what is destroyed, injures the destroyer. The imbalance follows along the opposite route of the controlling cycle; each element can insult the one that normally restrains it. The reverse of the controlling cycle normally occurs when the balance is broken, especially when one element is insufficient.

For example: Wood suppose to control the Earth to make our body in the balance. But, If we have too much earth energy in our body, the wood energy will turn to weak, then will causing us some wood organs diseases, because of wood weakness. To heal sort of problem, we need to get more wood energy and comb the earth energy to reach the balance.

So when we trying to check if our body health enough in the balance situation, we need to check support cycle, control cycle and weakening cycle at the same time.

How 5 elements relate with tea?

In traditional Chinese medicine believe human beings want to live longevity need to follow the nature’s law, which means the Sky(Heaven), Earth and Man must be match all together, In The Tao Te Ching, is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism also had described a key principle of Tao:

ren fa di (人法地)– Means man follows the ways of earth

di fa tian (天法地) - The earth follows the ways of heaven

tian fa dao (地法道) - Heaven follows the ways of Tao

dao fa zi ran (道法自然) - Tao follows its own ways as nature

The only solution can reach this goal which is follow the 5 elements law.

In ancient Chinese medicine book Huang Di Nei Jing(黄帝内经), translate into English called The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine, which is the most important ancient text in Chinese medicine as well as a major book of Daoist theory and lifestyle. In this book has very clearly explanation how important the five elements relate with human prolongation of life.

In this book, it recorded:” From ancient time (it has been thought that) the root of life is closely bound up with the heavens and root is Yin and Yang.”  Only Yin Yang in balance, we can be healthy and live in longevity. To keep the Yin Yang in balance, it’s all within the Qi of heaven and earth balance. Qi in Chinese means the energy or natural force which which fills the universe. The Chinese believe in three powers of the universe: Heaven, Earth and Human. Heaven has heaven Qi, Earth has earth Qi, Human has Human Qi. And Heaven Qi is the most important of the three, consisting of forces exerted by heavenly bodies, such as sunshine, moonlight, gravity and energy from the stars. Weather, climate and natural disasters are governed by heaven Qi. If we don’t follow the heaven Qi’s rules will give rise to the invasion of Evil- Qi into the body and damage our health.

Because of heaven Qi’s key is evolves into the Five elements, to keep Yin Yang healthy balance in our body is to follow the rules of Five elements. To follow five element rules to keep our body healthy balance by using different kinds of teas, need to focus three major important keys:

• Which organs and teas relate what elements.

• The key of heaven Qi relate to five elements we need to follow is weather.

• Our emotions relate each of five elements, understanding how to control the emotions by using five element theory is also important to keep our Qi in healthy balance.  

After understand how five element works relate human body, then we can know how to choose correct teas to brew in the accurate way for keeping our healthy in the well balance.

So, how to choose correct tea correspond each of five elements to keep our organs and emotions in healthy balance in different weather with different tea brewing method is the key for brewing tea.

If you are interested in exploring more in-depth details about which type of tea belongs to the Five Elements and how to properly brew tea according to the Five Elements theory to achieve a true balance of the Five Elements of Yin and Yang for our bodies, check out one of the world's few most highly rated online tea courses:

• ITA Certified Online Course - Ancient Chinese Science & Art of Brewing Tea 

• Tea book 5 Element Tea

More you can learn from our Online Tea Courses

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