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What is Kuding Tea?

By Mandi Rogier
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Kuding tea is a traditional Chinese tea typically made from the leaves of the ilex kudingcha, a type of holly plant. Other names for this drink include bitter tea, solitary leaf, gaolu tea, fuding tea or, chading. The leaves are twisted together into a distinct shape that is long and thin, resembling a nail or spike. Most drinkers only need about three of these leaves to achieve the desired potency.

This tea is believed to possess many medicinal properties. It is generally consumed for its health benefits only, and not for its taste. Kuding tea has a very bitter flavor. Though the first bite of bitterness is followed by a slightly sweet taste, most tea drinkers do not enjoy the taste enough to consume this tea for that reason alone.

One of the best known properties of this tea is its purported ability to lower blood pressure. It is believed to do this by increasing healthy circulation throughout the body. This effect may also help to bring down inflammation in various parts of the body.

This type of tea is also considered to be an effective weight loss aid. Fans of the drink tout it as an extremely effective weight loss treatment. Many believe that it can help to both decrease one’s body weight and to maintain a healthy weight once it has been achieved. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim, however, and some believe the tea only eliminates water weight rather than helping one reduce actual body fat.

Some individuals may drink Kuding tea to treat a cold or flu as well. It is said to assist in clearing mucous and fluid from the head and sinuses. This tea contains many antioxidants, which can help cleanse and detoxify the body.

As is the case with many teas, Kuding contains caffeine. This is one of the few drawbacks to the beverage, as those who do not tolerate caffeine well will probably be unhappy with the tea. Aside from the bitter taste, this tea has no other adverse side effects.

For those who are trying Kuding for the first time, it is recommended that only one or two leaves be used in the first pot of tea, to reduce the bitterness. Kuding tea leaves can be infused multiple times. The water should be boiled for a longer period of time with each subsequent infusion.

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Discussion Comments
By anon996111 — On Jul 11, 2016

The first time I drank a cup of Kuding tea I had intestinal cramping and diarrhea for about four hours. Is this a side effect, or was this just a coincidence?

By anon973908 — On Oct 14, 2014

First time I tried ku ding was a few years ago. It was from a pu'er sampler that I got on eBay from Charlie (the best pu'ehr seller there). I experienced something amazing - a state of pure mental clarity - after the first sips of the tea. Wow!

Since that time, I 've tried all ku dings out there, and they are good, but very bitter, so I couldn't drink them on a regular basis; that bitterness ties me up.

However, that first ku ding pu'er wasn't so bitter at all. I asked Charlie if he could get it for me, and he started selling it separately from his sampler. Oh, this tea is awesome! For me, it works much better than any nootropic supplement.

By anon358124 — On Dec 09, 2013

Good kuding has very little caffeine in it. Even being as sensitive to caffeine as I am, I can still drink kuding with no ill effects. I've even come to love its taste and drink four cups of it every day.

I have lost weight since I started a few months ago, but I think drinking the bitter kuding four times a day for my health has made me more aware of my unhealthy choices so I've been eating better, exercising more and sleeping better. I don't the think the tea has anything, physically speaking, to do with it.

It does seem to get rid of mucus pretty well, though. Gross story.

By anon329562 — On Apr 10, 2013

I suffer from painful joints. Someone recently introduced me to the tea. I would like to know if it has helped anyone with a similar problem and if this may worsen my condition because I am also taking pills for it.

By anon275606 — On Jun 19, 2012

I take kuding every day, for general well-being and it's great. My health insurer loves me for not using my health benefits because of kuding! My advice is to wait until it's cold, then gobble it up! That's the only way I could overcome the taste and smell when I started taking it.

By anon275605 — On Jun 19, 2012

I have been taking kuding for four years, and I discovered it by chance when I was really sick with flu. The Chinese grocer in my neighbourhood suggested it, and I'm so grateful she did! It is great for a whole lot of ailments, including stomach discomforts. My experience with all Chinese teas since I've been using them for over 10 years, is that if you don't watch what you eat and exercise regularly they won't perform miracles, but may help you maintain the state you are in.

In short, don't expect to go wild on food every day, and think Chinese tea will undo the damage. Whereas if you treat yourself once a week to whatever your heart desires, you can safely say that the teas are a great weight control aid. I'm living proof.

By lonelygod — On Jun 25, 2011

I suffer from high blood pressure and it sounds like Kuding tea is a great way to manage your blood pressure levels naturally. I am currently taking pills for my blood pressure and wonder if anyone knows if mixing the tea with the pills would be dangerous?

I am always very careful when trying new herbal medications because they often have problematic interactions with regular drugs. I wouldn't want to make my situation any worse by taking something that makes my blood pressure too low. Do you think that an ordinary family doctor would have knowledge of Kuding tea and its interaction with pills, or should I perhaps consult a Chinese doctor?

By wander — On Jun 23, 2011

Does anyone have any experience with using Kuding tea for weight loss? I know that green tea has been shown to help in weight loss because it helps to flush the body of toxins and works as a diuretic purging extra water from your system.

It seems that from reading this that Kuding tea would work in a similar manner.

I did a little research and it seems like Kuding tea for weight loss doesn't have any scientific backing so it would be great to hear if it has actually worked for anyone. Losing water weight is OK, but it would be great if it actually helped you to tackle fat too.

By burcidi — On Jun 22, 2011

I'm not a summer person. The heat affects me a lot, I feel dehydrated, tired, sleepy and feel down in general. I don't know anyone who is affected by the summer season as I am.

I have read about this tea from several sites and I'm wondering if it would help me with any of these symptoms? I usually don't have any hot drinks in the summer because I feel like it will make me more thirsty. But I've read that kuding tea eventually cools the body down and it is said to hydrate and lessen thirst. I also think it has vitamin C. I just learned from this article that it as caffeine and that might help me with my sleepiness.

Has anyone who has tried this tea seen any of these benefits I mentioned? Does it really help with hydration? I would love to hear some feedback about it before I go out and buy some.

By fify — On Jun 22, 2011

I'm a teacher and I get a sore and dry throat from talking so much in my classes. One of my friends recommended this tea to me. She said that it's especially good for the throat because it has a lubricating effect. Apparently, in China, people who have to speak a lot for their profession and cigarette smokers have kuding to relieve their throat.

I couldn't find it at the Asian store near where I live but found lots of online stores who had it and bought some from there. I made the mistake of putting too much tea leaves the first time and it was terribly bitter and I was sad that I wouldn't be able to drink it. But then I made it again, first with one tea leaf and then with two and it tasted much better.

Just like with any new drink, you need some time to get used to the taste. I had a hard time adapting to green tea at first too. Now, kuding actually doesn't taste as bitter to me as it first did. I think I got used to it and it really does help my throat a lot. I actually take some with me to school and prepare it during lunch time. I feel that my throat is less dry and I feel replenished to continue with lectures. I highly recommend it!

By serenesurface — On Jun 22, 2011

I agree that kuding tea is not an everyday drink. It is more like medicine, and that's how I use it. I have it when I have an upset stomach, if I've caught a cold or flu and after final exams. I don't know if there are any studies which show this, but I think that kuding tea improves immunity too. When I drink it several times a week in winter, I don't get sick and I usually don't have good immunity.

But I can only drink kuding tea during winter or when I'm actually sick and when my mom prepares it for me with honey. Otherwise, it's not something I want to drink, just because it tastes like medicine to me.

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