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Why do Chinese Drink Hot Water? Exploring Its Surprising Benefits

If you ask a Chinese person why they prefer hot water, they will often tell you that it’s because it’s good for their health.

If you catch cold in China, Chinese will tell you to drink more hot water and you will be fine very soon.

In contrast to the Western practice of serving cold beverages with meals, in China, it’s more common to be served a hot cup of tea.

Why do Chinese People Prefer Drinking Hot Water over Cold Water?

1. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Theory behind Drinking Hot Water

According to traditional Chinese medicine, drinking hot water has numerous health benefits.

  • TCM practitioners believe that drinking hot water helps to improve digestion, boost the immune system, and detoxify the body.
  • They also believe that drinking hot water can help to reduce painful muscle contractions, regulate blood flow, and promote healthy skin.

2. Cultural Practices around Drinking Hot Water in China

Apart from TCM’s theories, there are several cultural practices and beliefs around drinking hot water in China.

  • Firstly, it is believed that drinking hot water helps to balance the body’s internal temperature, which can be beneficial in cold weather conditions.
  • Secondly, many Chinese people believe that drinking hot water can help to prevent and alleviate common colds and flu.
  • Finally, Chinese culture places great emphasis on the concept of “yang and yin,” where hot water is considered to be “yang” and cold water is considered to be “yin.” It is believed that drinking hot water can help to balance the yin and yang in the body, leading to better overall health.

3. Drinking Hot Water vs. Cold Water: The Scientific Evidence

While traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the benefits of drinking hot water, scientific research has also shown that drinking hot water can have a positive impact on the body.

According to a study published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, drinking hot water can improve digestion and circulation, relieve congestion, and aid in weight loss.

Chinese Tea also helps with weight loss. Learn More Here.

In contrast, drinking cold water can have negative effects on the body, such as causing blood vessels to constrict and leading to digestive problems.

In some cases, drinking cold water can also increase the risk of developing respiratory infections, especially in individuals with weakened immune systems.

4. Historical Reason

During a cholera epidemic in northern China in 1862, it was believed that boiled water consumption by historically wealthier southerners was the reason why the south was spared.

This led to the promotion of drinking hot water in public health campaigns by both Nationalist and Communist governments.

Today, boiling water before drinking it is considered essential in China, even in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Tap water in mainland China is not safe to drink, and consuming it without proper precautions can lead to severe diarrhea.

Hot Water Techonology:

Almost every school, business, and government office in China has a hot water dispenser for drinking (called “kāishuǐ qì” in Chinese).

These dispensers come in different sizes and can be small enough to fit on a kitchen counter or large enough to require a boiler room.

In workplaces, boiler rooms function as small kitchens or break rooms for employees.

At home, tea kettles are more common than hot water dispensers.

Chinese tourists often complain about the lack of hot water dispensers or tea kettles in foreign hotels.

Chinese thermos technology is highly advanced and can keep water hot for a long time.

Large thermos bottles called “rèshuǐpíng” can keep water at hot temperatures all day long.

Chinese students often fill up a large thermos with hot water and bring it back to their room for convenience.

That’s what I did when I was at universtiy.

You will see this at almost every Chinese airport for people to get hot water wherever they go.


In conclusion, drinking hot water is a common cultural practice in China that has numerous health benefits according to traditional Chinese medicine.

It is believed that drinking hot water can help to improve digestion, boost the immune system, and promote healthy skin, among other benefits.

Additionally, scientific research has shown that drinking hot water can have a positive impact on the body, while drinking cold water can have negative effects.

As such, it is no surprise that Chinese people prefer drinking hot water over cold water.


Why dont you drink cold water in China?

  • In China, it is believed that drinking cold water can be bad for your health as it can disrupt the balance of your body’s internal temperature.
  • This is especially true in traditional Chinese medicine where it is thought that cold drinks can cause digestive problems and negatively impact the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Why do Chinese not use ice?

  1. Health concerns: Some Chinese people believe that consuming cold drinks or foods can be harmful to their health, causing a range of issues from sore throats to digestive problems. As a result, they prefer to avoid adding ice to their beverages.
  2. Cultural preference: In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that consuming hot or warm liquids can help to balance the body’s internal temperature and promote overall health. This preference for warm drinks may extend to the use of ice as well.
  3. Infrastructure: In many parts of China, the quality of the ice is not considered to be very high, and there may be concerns about the safety and cleanliness of the ice-making process. Additionally, some establishments may not have the infrastructure in place to produce and store ice safely and efficiently.
  4. Taste: Some Chinese people simply prefer the taste of beverages without ice, as they feel that the ice can dilute the flavor of the drink. This is particularly true for teas and other hot beverages, which are highly valued in Chinese culture.

Why Chinese drink hot tea with meals?

Drinking hot tea with meals is a common practice in Chinese culture.

It is believed that drinking hot tea can help with digestion and prevent the oil and fat from the food from accumulating in the body.

Additionally, drinking tea can help to cleanse the palate and refresh the taste buds between dishes.

In traditional Chinese medicine, different types of tea are also believed to have different health benefits and can be chosen to complement specific types of food.

Finally, in Chinese culture, serving hot tea to guests is a sign of hospitality and respect.

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