Rock Sugar (also known as Rock Candy)
Traditional Chinese Name:
冰糖 (bīng táng)
This ingredient is neutral and sweet. It targets the lungs and spleen.
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One of my favourite sweeteners for Chinese herbal teas and desserts!
I never knew this, but as I was learning TCM formally, this is one of those ingredients where you didn’t think it really pulled any weight to help with finding balance in the body, but it does!
It actually tonifies the Qi and moisturizes the lungs and helps clear the lungs and remove phlegm! This is why it’s often paired nicely with some of the lung nourishing and healing Chinese herbal teas and tonics. I’ve also seen it as an additive for those drastically bitter Chinese tonics that my Chinese doctor prescribes for me!
Structurally, it’s a type of confectionary composed of large sugar crystals compiled together. Rock sugar comes in a variety of colours such as varying tones of yellow to clear.
How do I prepare it?
- No preparation needed for usage.
- Be sure to keep your rock sugar in a dry place. This ingredient has a great shelf life as well so long as it’s dry. This is perfect for your Chinese soup pantry!
- Depending on size, you can break it with a butcher’s knife or simply knocking it on a cutting board. This allows you to be choiceful in how much you’re using.
Where can I buy it and cost?
- You can buy rock sugar in any supermarket, they come prepackaged in bags
- You can also purchase this from wet marts in Hong Kong in bulk
- Prices range depending on $10-$15 / 100 g. Although I have seen some more expensive ones depending on colour.
What are the benefits?
- Rock sugar is amazing for tonifying Qi, nourishing and moisturizing the lungs and spleen
- It’s also used to eliminate phlegm so is often found in Chinese herbal teas
- Rock sugar has great shelf life and can be stored for many years in dry conditions
- Store in dry conditions so the sugar remains solid and doesn’t melt (which it will if it’s stored in sunlight or warmer places)
- Use sugar in moderation. I tend to add a bit first, taste test, and then add some more. Some of the Chinese herbal teas already have sweetened ingredients such as snow pears, apples, or monk fruit