Zoey Gong is a chef, nutritionist, and the founder of Five Seasons TCM, a wellness brand that aims to educate and share the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) food therapy. She also offers cooking classes utilizing Chinese medicine philosophy. Gong spoke to us about TCM and a variety of culinary teas she has produced to help promote wellness and healing.
Please tell us your background as a TCM chef and nutritionist.
ZG: I am from Shanghai, China, but now I live in Brooklyn and work as a TCM chef and nutritionist. After two breast tumors, constant skin rashes, amenorrhea, and joint pain, I embarked on a journey to find healing. I hold a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and a Bachelor of Science in global public health, a 200-hour yoga certification, a meridian yoga therapy certificate, and a registered dietitian candidate. Currently, I’m pursuing my Master of Science degree in traditional oriental medicine.
What are some basic differences between how Western society and the Eastern cultures view food?
ZG: The western view is largely based on numbers: the amount of protein, vitamins, carbs, and so on. Even the diagnostic methods that describe our health are number based. While in TCM, numbers are rarely mentioned. It’s more about imbalances and root causes, rather than just the manifestation on the surface. The “energy” of food means the thermal nature, flavor, and meridian affinity of a food. In other words, it means the effect that food can have on our body. For example, watermelon is a cold food that is sweet and enters the bladder meridian. That’s why we shouldn’t have it too much in cold weather and it is great at cooling heat and promoting urination, fantastic for those of us who have a lot of heat in the body.
You offer a variety of culinary TCM teas on your website. Tell us more about them.
ZG: Yes, these tonics are made with herbs and dosages that are safe for long term daily use. They are made from exclusively Chinese medicine herbs that have been used for a very long time and have shown efficacy in treating imbalances. We put them in tea bag form for easier consumption. You can even make bone broth with them! We have nine tonics on the website, each of them targets different areas of wellness, such as liver health, inflammation, energy, and sleep.
Why did you choose Five Seasons TCM to be a women-owned brand?
ZG: It just happened like that. I believe it was some strong feminine energy attracting each other and creating beautiful things.