The Five Elements of Tea

Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, and the key to its effectiveness is to choose a combination of plants based on the particular symptoms and characteristics of the patient, guided by the various theories of traditional Chinese medicine. One of the most influential theories is the principle of jun-chen-zuo-shi(君臣佐使).

The Principle of Jun-Chen-Zuo-Shi

The jun-chen-zuo-shi principle is a traditional Chinese medical theory that states that the herbs used in a herbal formula should be divided into four categories: jun, chen, zuo, and shi. The jun (emperor) herbs treat the main cause or primary symptoms of a disease, while 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.

Five Elements Theory and Tea

Based on traditional Chinese medicine theory, tea is not just a simple beverage, it is also considered a medicine. There are six major types of tea: Black Tea, Yellow Tea, Green Tea, White Tea, Dark Tea and Oolong Tea, and each tea type is associated with a specific element. The five elements include Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth, and they are interrelated and interdependent. Tea is believed to be beneficial to health because it helps to balance the five elements in the body.

Support Cycle, Control Cycle, and Weakening Cycle

The five elements theory also includes the support cycle, control cycle, and weakening cycle. The support cycle is a nurturing relationship between the two elements, while the control cycle is a relationship in which one element controls another. The weakening cycle occurs when there is an imbalance within the controlling cycle, where what is destroyed, injures the destroyer.

For example, Wood is supposed to control Earth to make our body balanced. If we have too much earth energy in our body, the wood energy will weaken and cause wood organ diseases. To heal this problem, we need to get more wood energy and balance the earth energy.

The Relationship Between Five Elements, Tea, and Health

In traditional Chinese medicine, human beings must follow the laws of nature to live a long and healthy life. The Tao Te Ching, a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism, describes a key principle of Tao: ren fa di (人法地)– Man follows the ways of Earth, di fa tian (天法地) – Earth follows the ways of Heaven, and tian fa dao (地法道) – Heaven follows the ways of Tao, and dao fa zi ran (道法自然) – Tao follows its own ways as nature. The only solution to achieving this goal is to follow the five elements law.

In the ancient Chinese medicine book Huang Di Nei Jing, also known as The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, which is the most important ancient text in Chinese medicine, it is recorded that from ancient times, the root of life has been closely bound up with the heavens, and the root is Yin and Yang. To keep Yin Yang in balance, it’s all within the Qi of heaven and earth balance. Qi in Chinese means energy or natural force which fills the universe.

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