A Post about Qi, and your thoughts
Whenever I get a cold/head flu/allergies, as I am sure some of you do, I lose my sense of smell and taste. Usually I discover my lack of taste after setting up a tea session, so I waste my decent tea in this state and the next day I’ll drink cheaper stuff until I regain taste.
But something struck me the other day about the qi/or energy I get from tea. These same teas I have when I can taste I can feel happy, stoned, energetic, etc. but when I can’t taste there are no pharmacological/psychological effects.
This says something really interesting about meeting tea halfway. You have to be in the mood, the mindset and have the full experience of drinking good tea to feel its good energy. This makes me really interested in discussing this side of tea. I believe it comes with time and skill and requires someone to be in the right mindset, which you figure out where that is for you from years of drinking. It isn’t necessarily elitist, but a fact that like any hobby, things reveal themselves to you later.
Any thoughts on this discussion?
I find it worthless to buy a tea for its qi because I almost never feel this. It is a great rarity for me to feel qi from most teas, even some that were famed for their qi by other people. It is clearly not a drug or pharmacological effect for it would then effect everyone the same. Qi is as subjective an experience about tea as is the enjoyment.
I’ve also thought about how it could all be placebo. Tea makes me happy, you throw in a decent amount of caffeine and I am mostly having a better time than I was before my tea session just due to the enjoyment it brings and I confuse that with some sortve property within the tea.
This would also give weight against the sick theory. I am not enjoying the tea obviously when I can’t taste it, and am even in a worse mood than before cause I am wasting tea/know I can’t have a session for a bit.
That is possible, someone feels the qi because they believe they will. Someone else doesn’t believe they will feel an effect and they don’t.
Things classified as drugs will have specific effects and will effect everyone, not that everyone will feel drunk after the same amount of alcohol but they will all feel it’s effects where qi one person will feel the effects and another will not.
I am the exact opposite. I feel the qi too often, so need to limit my puerh. I now try to buy low-key sheng in order to be able to drink more.
AllanK by your claims, then all people with ADHD would never need to switch medications after a couple years when they stop working. I’d rather say that drugs are ‘supposed’ to do xyz.
I have a strong & robust constitution. The only time I feel the effects of caffeine are when I drink significant amounts of coffee. I can drink several litres of tea throughout the day, be unaffected by its caffeine, and sleep like a log. Clearly the ‘drugs’ in tea affect different people differently and in case of qi I believe it has both a subjective and objective aspect.
A comparison between alcohol and qi doesn’t have a thing to do with drugs for ADHD. You are inventing things I did not say.
you said “Things classified as drugs will have specific effects and will effect everyone”…I was referring mostly the latter part “will effect everyone” and used ADHD medications as an example, when people with ADHD need to switch medications because their Ritalin no longer effects them. Not inventing anything, perhaps misunderstood, or I could have worded it differently.
If you notice I was comparing alcohol to qi specifically. Where you consider my post to have something to do with drugs for ADHD I don’t know because I don’t recall posting anything about drugs for ADHD. And alcohol does effect everyone about the same, but by blood alcohol level not the number of drinks. Two people with the same blood alcohol level will both have the same trouble driving a car for instance. Where qi is in my opinion not a drug at all. The Chinese believe it to be the energy of the tea plant for instance. If Qi were a drug you would expect people to all feel it to some degree depending on how much had entered their blood stream. But in my experience qi doesn’t work that way.
Interesting observation, I wouldn’t have though about it because I generally drink cheap teas that don’t give me “qi” feelings when I’m sick.
The other thing is your senses are most likely not optimal when you’re sick so that’s why you might not be able to taste or feel other effects as easily.
Technically, the body’s qi is usually in a weakened state when we’re sick so if we were getting qi from another source (like certain foods), we’d be more energized and be able to sense things more.
Mindset is definitely a factor for how we experience tea, from brewing to tasting.
I agree “you have to be in the mood, the mindset and have the full experience of drinking good tea to feel its good energy.”
Taste and smell are connected, when your nose is runny/congested you lose the ability to perceive the complex flavors of food, and why you can’t appreciate tea. But what about all those people (w2t) who say don’t chase flavor? Makes you wonder, do they know something more? Perhaps qi and taste are not connected?
OP said “but when I can’t taste there are no pharmacological/psychological effects.” I would edit this to read “there are no (perceived)…effects”. Tea has been scientifically proven to have effects. Whether you perceive them or not is a relative ‘experience’, but your lack of sensitivity doesn’t inhibit these things from occurring.
Similarly, if a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound? Laws of physics say yes it does.
To add to my comment, tea appreciation takes into consideration your entire sense of health and well being in order to maximize the experience of a tea session. If you want to appreciate teas to the fullest, you must keep yourself healthy and mentally alert. If you’re dulled by illness, mental fatigue, stress, etc, then you can’t fully appreciate tea. See a connection to lifestyle…?
I will also add that after a big steak dinner and a few beers, I do not feel drunk or even feel a buzz. But if I take a breathalyzer, BAC will be over the legal limit. My perception of being drunk/buzzed is irrelevant to my physical state of actually being drunk…measured by my BAC.
I like this point of view. It does seem that the more attention I’m giving to the tea, the more I notice its qi. I think illness sort of overshadows any cha qi in the same way that eating food overshadows the effects of alcohol.
Qi tends to put me in a meditative mood, so I totally agree with the whole mindset argument. For me I always feel it, but I feel it much more if I go with the flow rather than fight it. When I fight it, it tends to make me feel tired.
I think you are describing the effects of theanine which crosses the blood-brain barrier and increases alpha waves in the brain, which is what happens when someone meditates. Theanine also increases serotonin and dopamine in the brain. chaqi is something else. People who chase the effect you’re experiencing are the people who try to use tea as a drug-like substance, and actually, this would be a chemically induced state of being.
Qi is life force. It is not a chemical in tea as some people seem to think. It can be derived from a great many things, not just tea. I only say this because people are arguing over it like it’s a drug. The tastes in tea, not the flavors, are still present when sick, which can be very pleasing by themselves, but if your happiness is derived from the flavor of tea, then perhaps that is what creates the feeling of Qi for you.
Qi is a concept developed before modern science. I think both definitions are correct.
No they aren’t. Qi is a non-corporeal and immeasurable concept. it cannot be defined by science any more than something like love could be, even though both are generated by chemicals.
Maybe it’s possible to ask for clearer input on this; if the qi effect isn’t transmitted or caused by chemicals what is causing it? A friend of mine says she can see people’s auras, and I guess there could be room for phenomena out there that we’ve not even begun to define or understand, but I’ve never been remotely clear on the nature of the cause of this one if it’s not chemical.
Qi (or chi) is basically a core concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Chinese define it as a life energy that all living beings have (not just humans).
See here for more info: http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/principles/qi.html
Aside from saying the molecules in our body, it’s incredibly tough to put into scientific terms to describe the cause because modern science is an entirely separate framework that is dependent on measurement, trial and error, and repeatable results.
Science doesn’t really have an explanation we can use for this because they can’t get consistent results to form a solid conclusion based on their hypotheses. They can’t get consistent results because every individual’s body reacts very differently. So even if there’s a large sample size, the difficulty is figuring what to even measure and how.
So anyway, back to the question. Qi is energy so the real question is where does energy come from?
Science says food. We convert the food we eat to energy. But how and where does that initial energy to even convert food come from in the first place? For those who require a less abstract explanation, science says ATP molecules in our body.
Edit: Another way to make sense of qi is to view it in a different perspective. We must understand the origins of this concept and how it was used then translate it to how that understanding can be applied now.
When we feel and experience qi, we are feeling the movement of energy in our body.
Here’s the thing, it couldn’t be any clearer where we are getting the energy we use for life functions. The sun radiates energy to the earth, plants collect that through photosynthesis by turning simple molecules into more complex ones, with different carbohydrates being the versions we use for energy. We eat that, sugar, or a starch, any form, then we break the compounds to simpler forms and in a final step glucose as blood sugar is converted to components to “power” cells. Or we eat an animal that did the same thing, and use the complex compounds storing energy in their bodies as an energy source, breaking that down instead. We also require oxygen. Our sensations are just the function of our nervous system, a feedback system providing input about what’s going on in cells designed for sensation.
I read that page on qi but to be honest it reads like an early model of human functions from the time of the ancient Greeks, about different humors or aspects that sort of map onto functions but was long ago replaced. Check this out:
…it was the Greek physician Hippocrates (460–370 BC) who developed it into a medical theory. He believed certain human moods, emotions and behaviors were caused by an excess or lack of body fluids (called “humors”): blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Next, Galen (AD 129 – c. 200) developed the first typology of temperament in his dissertation De temperamentis, and searched for physiological reasons for different behaviors in humans. He classified them as hot/cold and dry/wet taken from the four elements.4 There could also be “balance” between the qualities, yielding a total of nine temperaments…
We no longer believe that, because the models of bodily functions improved, but it seems we can’t cast off the ancient Chinese system because there might be something fundamental in there we could lose, a part that’s still right. Actually that’s correct, in a very limited sense, they were observing human body function for a long time so the patterns couldn’t be completely wrong, but the model definitely could be almost entirely wrong. It’s conceivable there are still parts we’re not absolutely clear on better described by that system, like in the case of my friend seeing auras (the colored halo around a person’s head), or maybe not at all. I think the leap I’m not following that other people are taking is feeling that they are somehow more “spiritual,” and tuned into such things, and then they accept all of the model (just not literally), because it matches what they experience, even though the model is clearly mostly wrong.
I’m saying wrong, but they’re basically describing digestion, breathing, nerve function, immune system, etc., it’s just in a poetic way that is only right to the extent it gets mapped back on to what we now know is really occurring. At the finer level of detail of how it works it’s wrong. To some extent our own models also fail, for example we can’t explain how the brain works completely. We only know parts of that, what a neuron does, what different sections do, how some regulating chemicals work, about development and plasticity, etc. I’m not saying that I personally have it all figured out, I’m really just trying to find the space where any of it makes any sense, and as of yet I’ve not got to that. Some of it surely does, beyond being a poetic model of what we already model better.
Right, but what about the step where we break compounds into simpler forms?
And yeah, TCM is a bit similar to the ancient Greek model in that regard. I agree with what you’re saying in that we can’t cast off TCM because it’s based on thousands of years of observation and a lot of those concepts are still widely used today among Asian people.
Where misconceptions arise, in my opinion, is when people make it spiritual and mix it with many different things. Whether something works or doesn’t from a health perspective is just that, does it work or does it not? Can it be applied to more than one person if used in the right way? I try to think of things that way to avoid being misled.
The poetic terms that you’re referring to were simply the only terms or analogies back in those times. The fact is there’s right and wrong in both Chinese and Western medical models.
I do have to say though, when it comes to the study of tea, modern science has ways to go in terms of explaining the effects various teas beyond basic stuff like antioxidants, catechins, anti-inflammation, etc. That research is still rather limited.
This makes for an interesting point, to some not relevant or meaningful, but I think this distinction cuts to the center of what often remains vague. Either qi is just a reference to the effects of chemicals in tea, compounds acting as drugs, or else it’s something else. What else it might be is hard to even imagine. From the sounds of this portrayal it’s similar to “the Force” in the Star Wars movies.
Love might work well as an example. It’s more or less a feeling based on social relations status, even if that status is not part of an existing interpersonal connection recognized by both parties. If you think you are in love then to some extent you are, although people not knowing themselves on the lowest level of being and causation is normal, so it’s possible to shift that assessment in retrospect. Maybe compounds in tea do act as drugs—obviously some do—but beyond that to the extent that the sum of the experience could be greater than the parts someone could be experiencing qi. Or qi really could just be drug-like effects, and that other read could just be complete nonsense. I lean towards accepting the former but it’s not as if I’m somehow a good reference on the subject.
I used to doubt Qi very much. I’d always hear about people getting “tea drunk” from this or that. I drank those same teas, and sometimes felt a mild sense of well being, but it could never be attributed to anything beyond me just liking the tea. Then I got my first raw puerh cake, and after three cups of that out of my 100ml gaiwain, it really hit me. It wasn’t a “I’m not good to drive” sort of impairment, but instead a heightened sense of well being and mild physical sensation as well, similar to a first drink, but not as profound.
Raw puerh is the only tea I’ve ever experienced this with, and it’s not every raw puerh. young teas seem more likely to cause it, and I’ve certainly never experienced it with ripe puerh.
For some people it seems to happen with almost every tea. I won’t name any names, but I have seen vendors taste their own teas, and then speak highly of the Qi. Although I can’t prove it, I suspect that these claims are exaggerated, to generate hype for marketing purposes. Maybe other people are just more sensitive to it than I am as well.
I have also seen vendors advertise that a tea has potent qi. But I generally ignore such ads because even if they are telling the truth it doesn’t mean I will feel the qi from that tea it means they felt qi from that tea. No two people will experience the sensation of qi in the exact same way.