Walking to work today (with blue skies and in bright sunlight mind you!) thinking about something quintesstentially Chinese: hot water. Okay, hot water is of course not only limited to China, luckily, but the way they use it here is quite Chinese I would say. They drink it. Without any added flavor. Except perhaps for some other chemicals that are in the water here naturally (or not so naturally).
Anyway, I remember that when I started to drink hot beverages, I would drink tea, but with sugar. Not with milk, I did not like English tea like that. And also no green tea, because it was too bitter. Then, when I was 11 we went to China for the first time. None of us, except for the local guides, could speak Chinese (and I dare say my English was quite spotty then too) so most of the times there was no sugar. Furthermore I discovered that there was often not even tea or any flavor in the pot. Plus the water was boiling hot, so that even a full table of foreigners mostly only finished half a pot of tea.
All this mystery continued for a while, but did not leave me unmoved. Sugar disappeared from my tea routine. Milk entered it in the form of milk (bubble) tea (that is milk powder though, not liquid milk) and scorching temperatures no longer became a match for my tongue and mouth.
So after having ample of experience drinking tea and hot water, I am officially trained. I can mostly drink any water directly after it has been boiled, can drink it with or without a flavor and drink loads of it. This is especially helpful in China since you can get a refill of your tea ad infinitum. I heard my friend complain that the Starbucks in the Netherlands charges 30 cents (eurocents!) for it. Ridiculuous!
The advantage of hot water is that you have a hot drink, which does not have too strong a taste and can neutralize other tastes. Very handy in China where strong flavors reign and the tongue can sometimes get a bit too much coming at it.
Also, Chinese teas have so many varieties and flavors. No bitterness in green tea. It is amazing, the best. Although I am too lazy to cook it at less than boiling temperature. I do remain a foreigner of course.