Why do Chinese people drink hot water?

Chinese Culture

For many Chinese people, nothing is more common than drinking straight hot water every day. But many outsiders have scratched their heads at this custom.

During this year’s annual political Two Sessions currently underway in Beijing, a photograph has repeatedly appeared on television showing waiters at the conference hall pouring hot water into the cups of senior officials. Some used the water to make tea while many others drank it straight, the Los Angeles Times reported.

This has led some Western media to cover the ordinary practice.

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While many may view the thought of drinking hot water odd, many Chinese view the custom of drinking ice water as equally bizarre and even unhealthy, the Los Angeles Times wrote.

Some argue that the custom of drinking hot water is derived from China’s ancient tea culture, since hot water is needed to brew tea. However other tea-drinking countries such as Japan and Korea seem, anecdotally at least, to not drink as much hot water as the Chinese.

Boiled water greatly reduces the bacteria in tap water. Some people argue that the simple sterilization method has actually saved China from many major plagues in history such as the Black Death. Even today, the hygienic practice is still something in urgent need in some parts of the world.

Some also say that it was a 1950s public information campaign in China calling on people to drink hot water to improve health that led to this custom. During this period people built many boiler rooms that provided hot water to residents.

An increasing number of Chinese doctors are encouraging more people outside China to take on the habit of drinking hot water, especially for women when they are menstruating, as it is more soothing to the stomach than cold water.