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Chinese and Western Culture: Hot Water vs Cold Water

Why do Chinese people drink hot water? Many westerners find it so interesting that they always see Chinese people carry a vacuum cup no matter which season it is. If you go to a restaurant in western countries, they usually serve you a cup of cold water, sometimes even with ice. And every time when Chinese people ask the waiter if they can change to hot water, actually they may receive a strange look from the waiter or people nearby. Hot water? Seriously?

For lots of Chinese people, nothing is more common than drinking hot water every day. But for most of the Westerners, the idea of drinking plain hot water is really odd since they drink cold water even in winter. Why do Chinese people drink hot water? Hot water vs cold water, which one is better? Follow us to find an ideal answer.


Water Quality

Water became a matter of civic debate by the 1930s in China, while the water supplies were polluted. In order to prevent people from infectious diseases, the Chinese government suggested people to drink boiled water, because they considered it a way to kill off microbes and bacteria. They always boil water daily and store it in a thermos to keep the water warm for the day. Even now, you can find hot water dispensers everywhere, in schools, factories, and government departments across the country.


While for western countries, as a result of the loss from severe plague, they took water quality seriously from then on, so that people can drink water directly from the tap rather than having to boil it.


Eating Habits

It is well known that Chinese people prefer hot meals every day. Moreover, some parents always teach their children to drink hot water with meals, because they think mixing cold liquids with hot meals is really bad for the stomach, and cold liquids may solidify fats in your stomach, which can cause digestive problems, whereas hot liquids aid in digestion. 

According to the eating habits in western countries, they prefer “raw” food, so they also prefer their water “raw”. At the same time, they are fond of hamburgers, cheese and fried stuff, which are all with high calorie. As a matter of fact, they need cold drinks to cool them off.



Chinese people all believe that hot food is better to the stomach. Based on the traditional Chinese medicine, cold food may decrease the temperature of your internal organs which causes chill into your body, makes you easily suffer from cold. Hot water can warm your internal organs, keep the Yang in your body. Thus, hot water can warm your stomach, by this way, your stomach will function well, and it gives less chance to gastrointestinal diseases.

Since Chinese people prefer hot meals every day, they also used to have hot drinks with it, because it’s better for digestion. That’s the reason why waiters always serve you a glass of hot water or hot tea when you are in a Chinese restaurant.


Medical Basis

Under the influence of traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese people consider drinking hot water as a kind of panacea. They think hot water increases blood circulation and helps decrease complications associated with cramps and indigestion. It washes away the coldness clogged up in one’s body, and thus eases pain.

On the contrary, for most westerners, the idea of drinking hot water is odd enough. They believe that drinking hot water may weaken your body immunity. If you used to drink hot water, the body is unable to stand water below your body temperature after a long period of time. That is to say, the body endurance and stress capability decline, which goes against to the state of natural survival.


Weight Loss

Well, drinking hot water does do good to your metabolic system, however, whether it creates enough of a change to cause weight loss is questionable. But it’s no doubt that any type of water can provide your body with hydration, which helps your kidney flush waste products and toxins from your body and provides a medium for all of the biochemical and metabolic processes in your body.

Above all we must mention that hot water helps you increase your body temperature and also the metabolic rate, while increased metabolic rate makes your body use more calories, helps your stomach and intestines stimulate. Drinking hot water helps you to keep fit.


Traditional Chinese Medicine Health Cultivation

Western people find it weird that their Chinese friends always tell them to drink more hot water when they’re not feeling well, no matter what the reason is, fever, stomachache or even in low spirits. When you ask Chinese people the reason why they like hot water so much, they might give you the same answer, it’s good for your health. However, does hot water really work? Or it’s just exaggeration? Let’s talk about the main functions of drinking hot water from the standpoint of traditional Chinese medicine.


Yin-Yang Philosophy

According to the traditional Chinese medicine, healthy is due to an internal balance of Yin and Yang. In the Yin-Yang theory, water is Yin-type while hot stuff is Yang-type, drinking hot water can enrich Yin and tonify Yang in your body, it keeps Yin and Yang in equilibrium.

If you have cold symptoms or other Yin-type imbalances such as frequent chills, thirst, depression, sleepiness, bloating or retention of fluids, hot water plays the role of the Yang and brings your body back into balance. Doctors of traditional Chinese medicine always tell patients to drink more hot water, they call it method of resolving exterior.



Do Chinese people drink boiled water when it’s just boiled? The answer is absolutely no. Although there are people from some parts of China who prefer high temperature water, most Chinese people drink boiled water which is warm since high temperature water may burn your esophagus.

On the basis of traditional Chinese medicine, drinking a glass of warm water in the morning helps kick-start the digestive system. Warm water or hot water stimulates blood circulation, helps detoxify your body and promotes your digestive system.

Why do Chinese people drink hot water? You may have an answer in your mind from the above discussion. Actually, no matter hot water or cold water, the best way to stay healthy is to choose what’s the most suitable way for your own body, according to your personal dining habits and lifestyle.


Experience Chinese Culture with Top China Travel

The discussion of drinking hot water in China and cold water in the west may help us know more differences between Chinese and western culture. But the best way for you is to experience Chinese culture on your own. View cultural tours below for some inspiration.

Drink Tea in Chengdu People's Park


Not interested in these tours? Read more China cultural tours, or you can just tell us what kind of Chinese culture you prefer and have a tailor-made tour. Don’t stress out, let Top China Travel help you with the tedious planning.