Dear China. I love you. (Live from Hong Kong)

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I don’t know about you, but I just LOVE Chinese food. Don’t be alarmed. I’m not talking about the westernized-MSG-laden versions we see at home which can lead to obesity and heart disease. I’m talking about good, honest, natural Chinese food. The kind that is steeped in history and culture. The kind that is mainly steamed and mainly veggie based. The kind of tea that aids your digestion and overall wellbeing. The kind of food that you share with friends instead of ordering your own giant plate. Eating REAL Chinese food is truly a joy.

Do you know that there is no word in the Chinese language for calories?! This is revolutionary! Instead they look at food as a way to nourish your body, which is why so much of Chinese medicine is grounded in foods and different herbs. For example they know that chilli will aid digestion and dispel colds. And garlic will counteract toxins. And all of this is done to get energy smoothly circulating around your body.

To the Chinese, tea is the King of herbs. Not only does it form an important part of Chinese culture, it is also drunk daily and is good for health and wellbeing. For thousands of years this culture has enriched the lives of Chinese people. Tea contains valuable components such as vitamins, amino acids, protein and minerals. Moreover, tea helps digestion, eliminates toxins and lowers blood pressure. Even Western researchers believe that maintaining Chinese tea drinking could help to prevent cancer. For me, the health benefits are magnificent, but what I love about all Chinese food and drink is the history. There is always an ancient reason WHY. I mean, not fell out of a tree and got smart-kind-of-smart. We’re talking like THOUSANDS-OF-YEARS-smart. Chinese people are believed to have enjoyed tea drinking for more than 4,000 years. The story goes that Yan Di, one of three rulers in ancient times, tasted all kinds of herbs to find medical cures. One day, as some herb he had ingested was poisoning him; a drop of water from a tea tree dripped into his mouth and he was saved. And so began the tradition of Chinese using tea as herbal medicine.

Finally, aside from the magnificent food and the delicious tea I have to say that one of my true joys in China is watching an early morning Tai Chi session. Tai chi gives you a sense of balance, calm and peacefulness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of sweating it out at the gym and anyone who knows me will testify that when I’m running I’m in my happy place. But we must remember that these exercises can be stressful on our bodies and this gentle exercise focussing on breathing can help to reduce stress, bring mindfulness and give us unfounded energy. Balance is the key to everything.

After many years travelling to China and Hong Kong I have a real passion for the culture, the history, the food and the people. I mean, I REALLY love this place. My Chinese ‘sister’ taught me to say 很开心. Which technically means you are very happy. But the beauty lies in the true meaning, which is to say your heart is open to happiness. Which is how I feel about China. And it’s what I practice every day.

I have meandered around a few key topics today. But I promise you the lessons are simple. I encourage you to bring an honest approach to your eating. I invite you to make herbal tea a daily ritual. I hope you can bring balance to your busy life. And above all I ask you to practice gratitude every day and live your life with an open and happy heart.

Hong Kong. Over and out.

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