Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Chinese Obsession with Water

As someone who spent seven summers at summer camp on the Gulf Coast {read: HOT!} I am obsessed with making sure I, and everyone around me drinks enough water. It is the cure for EVERYTHING at camp. A camper comes to you with a headache? Drink water! A stomachache? Drink water! Her arm fell off? Drink water!


But let me tell you: I have NOTHING on Chinese folks. EVERY ailment, every single one, can be fixed by drinking hot water. Pharmacists will tell you that. Doctors will tell you that. Your students' parents will tell you that. I'm constantly getting looks for requesting cold water, and often get gentle reminders from my co-workers that hot is better. Your stomach will feel better, they say, if you drink less cold water. That is why it probably hurts in the first place!


A few anecdotes:

1. I went to the doctor a few weeks ago to finish a vaccine series. In the U.S. you get a little hand out telling you all about your vaccine. Not in China. I got some advice: drink extra water today. Right.

2. Lately my lips have been CHAPPED. I carry Chapstick everywhere I go. Everyone, from my wonderful dry-cleaning lady to parents to my co-teacher urge me to drink water. My lips are chapped, friends, not because of the dry air, the cold, or the strong wind. No. They are chapped because I don't drink enough water.

Lesson learned. Drink more water.


  1. Interesting they feel so strongly about it. Again, pretty pictures.

  2. I wonder hot the 'hot' water thing developed? Perhaps it became ingrained in society during a time when boiling water before drinking was still a thing (or at least more important than drinking cold water to prevent heat stroke)?

    1. I think that's part of it. It's definitely a part of Chinese medicine as well. There is a belief that the stomach is very hot, so putting cold things into it is not a great idea, and especially not cold water.