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How to Use Bird’s Nest to Alleviate Coolness

How to Use Bird’s Nest to Alleviate Coolness

Like the concept of ‘heatiness’, ‘coolness’ only made it into official English dictionaries as recently as 2016 (thank you, Oxford English Dictionary, for being more culturally-inclusive!). In contrast, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Indian Ayurvedic knowledge, both among the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, have believed the need for balance between food and body types for centuries.


What does ‘Cool’ Mean?

In this instance, ‘cool’ does not mean ‘popular’! Rather, it is one of five energy categories under TCM, and it means that the food is more predominantly yin. Having too much yin in your body is said to cause ailments related to the nature of yin (dark, negative, moisture, coldness, etc), such as fatigue, depression, muscle or joint aches, fluid retention, or stuffy noses. 

That does not mean yin is bad. According to TCM and the concept of dualism of yin-yang, contrary forces are inter-connected, inter-related, and complementary, and neither can be appreciated without the other. So yes, you still need yin, just maybe a smaller amount of it if someone tells you your body is too cold.


The ‘Energy’ in Food

Where the Western concept of a balanced meal encourages you to eat portions of every food group with fruits or vegetables on the side, traditional Chinese medicine takes note of the intrinsic energies of certain foods and how their consumption will affect our body’s internal 'QI'. A balanced food intake is still important, but with TCM, you’re looking to balance the energies of the different foods you eat, and to counter-act food that is too ‘hot’ or too ‘cold’ by also consuming food of an opposing nature. That means if you eat something ‘hot’, you should also eat something ‘cold’ to avoid adverse effects on your body’s qi. Otherwise, you run the risk of aggregating certain illnesses.

TCM categorises various food items into five main groups according to their intrinsic energy, namely cold, cool, neutral, warm, and hot. Bird’s nest drinks are comfortably in the middle - they’re neutral! - which means plain bird’s nest won’t make your body too hot or too cold.

Of course, our qi is affected by more than just our food intake. The seasons, the weather, or even your surroundings have the ability to affect your qi too. But short of moving to a totally different country, your food intake is probably the cheapest and easiest way to keep your qi in balance.


Is it the Same for Men and Women?

Yin qi is considered ‘female’ and yang qi is considered ‘male’, and yet both exist in both men and women. Don’t be confused - think of it yin and yang as attributes, and not actual sex-defining energies. Neither our sex nor gender dictates a monopoly on yin or yang qi. What’s more, the amount of yin and yang we have can fluctuate throughout the day, and we lose qi when we age!

To top it all off, the yin in women’s bodies fluctuate with every menstrual cycle, which means we have a high intrinsic concentration of yin during and directly after our periods, right up to ovulation, after which our yang qi starts to rise until the cycle repeats itself. Men, of course, do not menstruate, though their yin and yang still fluctuate due to external factors. Remember: yin and yang are attributes, not definitions of our physical identity. However, our individual tolerances to different levels of yin or yang may allow us to stomach higher levels of either energy without feeling any symptoms.

That said, how can we regain balance?


Regaining Balance: Reduce Coolness

Okay, so maybe someone told you your current bodily pain and suffering is caused by your body being too ‘cold’, and now you know they don’t mean your internal body temperature. Adjusting your diet is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to balance our yin and yang. If you’re too ‘cold’, you should consume foods that are ‘warm’ or ‘hot’ to achieve that balanced state - or you can make a naturally-neutral food ‘warmer’ to suit your current dietary needs. (PS: This does not mean you have permission to eat only deep-fried foods!)

By itself, bird’s nest is a largely ‘neutral’ food that is neither yin nor yang. That is the reason bird’s nest can be prescribed for many different scenarios and is gentle on the body for people of all ages. Using neutral-energy bird’s nest as a base, you can add ingredients in any number of combinations to make it ‘warmer’ and thus more effective at combating ‘coolness’. Here are some warm-energy bird’s nest combination recipes you can try:


Bird’s Nest with Ginger & Red Dates

For ginger to help you combat coolness, you’ll need to use old ginger to heat up your body. Young ginger will do the exact opposite - it cools you down even more! - so make sure you choose the correct type of ginger for your bird’s nest drink. Old ginger roots are more fibrous and spicier, without the pinkish tint or green shoots that characterise young ginger.

What you need:

  • Additional ingredients
    • A few slices of old ginger root
    • 3x red dates (or adjust as desired)


  1. Warm up `GeGe’s freshly-boiled bird’s nest drink` by letting the closed bottle sit in a container of warm water for a few minutes.
  2. Peel the ginger with a paring knife or spoon if required. Julienne the ginger.
  3. Wash ginger and jujube, then add them into water at a low simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Add them to warmed `GeGe’s freshly-boiled bird’s nest drink`. Serve.


Bird’s Nest Milk Pudding

If you’re looking for a savoury dessert, why not try making some bird’s nest milk pudding? Milk is ‘warm’ and has a mild taste that won’t steal attention away from the star of your dish, the bird’s nest. Julienne some old ginger for extra crunch and ‘heat’ if desired!

What you need:

  • Additional ingredients
    • 10g pudding powder
    • 2 tablespoons of water
    • 320ml of milk
    • 150ml whipped cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
    • A few slices of old ginger root (julienne)
    • 60g sugar (to taste)
  • Sauce ingredients
    • 1 tablespoon syrup
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Add pudding powder into water. Stir gradually.
  2. Pour milk and sugar into a pot and cook under medium heat.
  3. Pour pudding liquid into the pot, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils.
  4. Add whipped cream and vanilla into the mixture. Stir, then filter the mixture.
  5. Mix in `GeGe’s freshly-boiled bird’s nest drink`.
  6. After the mixture cools down, pour into a pudding mould. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  7. Mix lemon juice and syrup. Pour sauce onto the pudding before serving.


Bird’s Nest with Sea Cucumber & Apricot

You can try this warm, fruity combination of sea cucumber and apricot if you’d like to enhance the texture and taste of your bird’s nest drink. Both sea cucumber and apricot are ‘warm’ foods and will influence the neutral-energy bird’s nest accordingly.

What you need:

  • Base ingredient
  • Additional ingredients
    • 10g sea cucumbers
    • 14g apricots
    • Cornstarch (small amount)
    • A few slices of old ginger root (julienne)
    • Spring onion (diced)
    • Water


  1. Warm up `GeGe’s freshly-boiled bird’s nest drink` by letting the closed bottle sit in a container of warm water for a few minutes.
  2. Soak and rinse the sea cucumbers thoroughly, then blanch them in water with ginger and spring onion. Cut up the sea cucumbers.
  3. Remove the skins of the apricots. Soak in water, then drain. Drop apricots into 1/4 bowl of fresh water and mash apricots into a paste. Strain the sauce then add a small amount of cornstarch.
  4. Boil sea cucumbers in water for 5 minutes. Remove and add into warmed `GeGe’s bird’s nest drink`.
  5. Mix in the apricot sauce. Serve.



Enjoyed what you read? Why not find out more about the exact opposite matter: `how to alleviate ‘heatiness’?` Also, if you have any other delectable and warming bird’s nest recipes you’d like to share, feel free to `leave a comment`!

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