Eat with the Seasons: Summer

Seasonal eating is a key part of TCM diet and nutrition and it is a bit more than just eating your seasonal farmers market’s produce.

The Chinese calendar divides the year into 24 seasonal points 二十四节气 (also called “solar terms”). These 2-week long seasonal periods make up the 5 seasons. There are certain foods, both dried and fresh, that are more suitable for a particular seasonal point. Since the dietary recommendations for adjacent seasonal points are often similar, and many of you live in climates that may not experience all 24 seasonal points, so we’ve summarized this wisdom into 5 seasons to make the information more practical. 

For example, if you live in the Southern hemisphere, you should refer to “Winter” when you are experiencing “Summer.” 

Let us eat with season and tune-in to mother nature.


Summer Seasonal Points 节气


Beginning of Summer | 立夏 | 05.05 - 05.1

On this day, the sun's rays reach an angle of 45 degrees to the earth. The temperature will rise quickly after it, yet in Northern China weather remains mild, not tropical.


Lesser Fullness | 小满 | 05.20 - 06.0

Lesser Fullness means that the seeds from the grain are becoming full but are not ripe.


Grain in Ear | 芒种 | 06.05 - 06.20

The arrival of Grain in Ear signifies the ripening of crops such as barley and wheat. It is also a busy period for farmers.


Summer Solstice | 夏至 | 06.21 - 07.05

At this time, much of the northern hemisphere receives the most hours of daylight, but it does not bring the hottest temperatures which will come only 20 to 30 days later.


Lesser Heat | 小暑 | 07.06 - 07.21

Lesser Heat suggests the hottest period is coming but the extreme hot point has yet to arrive.


Summer Dietary Key Words

Heart-friendly foods

Fire element

Bitter/light/mildly sour flavors, instead of spicy or sweet

Calming and cooling foods


Late Summer's "Good" Food List

  • Vegetables: bitter melon, silk gourd, summer squash, winter melon, cucumber, tomato, eggplant, mushroom, corn, celery, lettuce, endive, dandelion, endive
  • Fruits: honeydew, lemon, berries, plums, cherry, watermelon, elderberry, peach
  • Protein:  plant-based protein, mungbean, azuki bean, soy milk, gingko nut, yogurt
  • Carbohydrates: millet, pearl barley, oats
  • Herbal: honey suckle 金银花, chrysanthemum 菊花, lily bulb 百合, lotus leaf 荷叶, lotus seed 莲子, black plum 乌梅, mint 薄荷, saffron 藏红花, aged tangerine peel 陈皮, longan 桂圆, prunella 夏枯草
  • Other: ginger, paprika, matcha, coriander, basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme
  • To Limit: alcohol, fried foods, iced coffee, dairy-based ice cream
Written by Five Seasons TCM


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