Heat Clearing Herbal Tea

Soup Name: Heat Clearing Herbal Tea

Traditional Chinese Name: 清肝火茶 (qīng gān huǒ chá)

Introduction:
The literal translation of “qīng gān huǒ chá” is clear liver heat, however this tea has various uses and is meant for people with extreme heat or fiery feeling in their bodies.  Symptoms includes a dry, sore throat (not from screaming or shouting), dry eyes (so when wind blows against it, there is a stingy sensation), cold sores inside or out of the mouth, a sore and or painful rib feeling and or overall feeling of heatiness.  It was recommended to me by my herbalist when I developed an extremely sore throat with no associated cough (as cooling teas should be avoided if there is a cough).  As ugly as this drink looks or even tastes without added sugar, it helped relieve the heatiness in my body and in a few days, helped “cool” my throat.

What Ingredients are required?

1 large piece of dried chinese foxglove (about 3 inches in diameter)
4-5 long pieces of dried white peony root
20g of dried bamboo
10 pieces of dried Creeping Liriope Root Tuber
5 pieces of dried Lucid Asparagus Root
rock sugar (to taste)
2-3 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Boil water
  2. Rinse ingredients in warm water briefly (except rock sugar)
  3. When water boils, add all ingredients together
  4. Boil for an hour on medium heat
  5. Strain ingredients from liquid
  6. Add rock sugar and let dissolve
  7. Cool in fridge or with ice (optional)
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Excellent soup for relieving heatiness
  • Helps cool the body and relieve sore throats, sore bodies and dry body conditions (because of being overheated)

Any precautions?

  • People with sensitive stomachs (otherwise known as cold stomachs) should avoid overly cooling herbs
  • Pregnant woman in their first trimester take caution as cooling ingredients can cause contractions
  • After consumption, you may notice frequent urination (this is normal) as your body is also detoxifying

Bamboo (Dried)

Ingredient Name: Bamboo (dried), dried bamboo sticks

Chinese Name: 竹 (Zhú)

Dried bamboo is not a common ingredient found in Chinese soups.  You will more often find cooked and edible bamboo in stews, dishes, soups and dim sum.

What is this?
  • A type of perennial evergreens in the true grass family
  • Used in Asia and South East Asia as a food source, building material or a raw product
  • Tall, flexible plants that grow to various heights depending on the breed of bamboo
  • The edible portions are normally the shoots (newly coming out of the ground) and found in dishes, stews and soups
  • The dried bamboos are not often used in an edible format, but used to boil drinks, soups etc….

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse dried bamboo in warm water

Where can I buy this?

  • Available in fresh marts in Hong Kong
  • Also sometimes available your at your herbalist

What is the cost?

  • A bag as picture above cost around $5 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Has a naturally sweet taste and is a low-calorie source for potassium
  • Used in Chinese medicine to treat infections and helps with healing

Any precautions?

  • Dried bamboo are not edible – so be sure to properly strain your herbal teas or drinks

Any substitutes?

  • Sugar cane is a good substitute for dried bamboo (especially when boiling drinks or herbal teas)

Rehmannia root or Chinese foxglove root

Ingredient Name: Rehmannia root, Chinese foxglove root, Sheng di huang, Radix Rehmanniae

Chinese Name: 生地 (Shēng dì)

A very interesting and scary looking Chinese medicine.  My herbalist recommended this to me for my “cooling” tea to rid me of my “fiery” condition of sore throat and heaty body.  I had to ask him a few times what it is and then spell it for me in the simplest of Chinese terms, but I managed to come to a good understanding of this ingredient.  This will make any water, soup, tea, drink BLACK – so beware.  It’s not a bad thing, but sometimes black and dark things aren’t the most pleasant things to drink – well, except for black coffee for some people and cola.  But in Chinese medicine, black is usually associated with bitter.

What is this?
  • The root of the Chinese foxglove plant
  • The root is harvested in the spring or autumn, dried in the sun and sliced into usable portions
  • This plant is most commonly found in China and the root is a common Chinese medicine ingredient
  • It is known as a “cooling” ingredient with sweet and bitter properties
  • The root is almost black in color and will certainly make your soup or tea black
  • Found in various forms such as dried (as picture above) or powdered

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • Most herbalists will carry this ingredient
  • Chinese medicine stores

What is the cost?

  • Relatively affordable
  • As pictured above, 2 pieces I purchase cost me $3 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Helps remove heatiness in the body and cool the blood
  • Relieves sore throats, dry mouths and helps cool the body to eliminate thick, green mucous caused by heatiness
  • Can help reduce a low-grade fever
  • Can help eliminate and reduce cold sores in the mouth and tongue
  • Nourishes the “yin”

Any precautions?

  • As it is cooling, it should be avoided by pregnant women in their first trimester (or even throughout a pregnancy) as it stimulates menstruation (it is also known to be used to prevent or terminate pregnancies)
  • Avoid if you’re lactating (breastfeeding)
  • Avoid using or consuming this ingredient if you have spleen problems, diarrhea or lack of appetite
  • Limit exposure and use for children

Saiga Antelope Horns

Ingredient Name: Saiga antelope horns, Saiga horns

Chinese Name: 羚羊絲 (Líng yáng sī)

I do not condone the poaching and killing of animals (much less endangered ones) for their parts because of traditional medicinal beliefs.  I actually bought this ingredient as part of a package from the wet mart because I wanted to boil something “heat” relieving for myself (because of a bad sore throat and the obvious over-heated symptoms of thick-green mucus and fiery throat).  And of course, little did I know what the ingredient was until I got home and did some research and then went back to speak to the herbalist and he told me “yah, this is a rare and much coveted ingredient in Chinese medicine!”   Nonetheless, I’ve boiled it, drank it and my sore throat is gone, but do not think I will buy it again.  The thing with doing it once is that you learn from it and honestly, once you know most of the ingredients, you can buy them separately (without pre-packaging) and ensure you’re not buying stuff that could get controversial.  So that’s my 2 cents on the parts of endangered species.  However, I will still share what this ingredient is for your own learning (and mine!).

What is this?
  • The horn of the saiga antelope (which is a rare and highly prized ingredient in Chinese medicine)
  • The saiga is an antelope with medium-sized horns that are found only on the males
  • It is an endangered species to date and commonly found in areas in Asia such as Mongolia
  • The horns are found in various forms such as dried, thinly sliced (or flaked as pictured above), ground into a powder, or cut into tiny pieces
  • The horns are white/beige in color
  • China is the largest importer of the saiga horn and often uses the raw horns in various derivatives of this Chinese medicine

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse the dried, flaked version in warm water before use
  • For powders, mix in water as directed

Where can I buy this?

  • Chinese herbalist stores
  • Chinese medicine specialty stores
  • Not too commonly available in North America, more so in Asia

What is the cost?

  • The cost varies as it is a pretty rare ingredient, but it is not cheap

Any benefits?

  • Said to be an excellent painkiller and antibiotic
  • A diverse ingredient that is used to treat many ailments such as headaches, fever, congestion, delirium (although there is no reliable scientific studies that prove this)

Any precautions?

  • Be sure you’re purchasing from a reputable source as there are quite a few “fake” or not genuine products available
  • With your purchase, you’re also promoting the market of saiga antelope horns, which will further reduce their already limited numbers (did I just say that!?)

White Peony Root

Ingredient Name: White peony root, Chinese peony, Bai shao yao, Paeonia lactiflora

Chinese Name: 白芍 (Bái sháo)

What is this?
  • A commonly known traditional Chinese medicinal ingredient
  • The roots of the white peony flower are collected when matured to about 3-4 years
  • The white peony roots are collected, cut, boiled and dried and cut to various lengths (2-4 inches in length) before usage or distribution
  • It is white/beige in color with a consistent color throughout
  • It is known to address “liver” diseases and conditions
  • The white peony flower is mainly grown in China
  • This ingredient is considered slightly cold with properties such as bitter and sour

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water prior to use
  • Add directly to soups or drinks when water boils

Where can I buy this?

  • In most wet marts in Hong Kong
  • Available in your Chinese herbalist or Chinese medicine store

What is the cost?

  • Relatively affordable and common Chinese medicinal ingredient
  • As pictured above, 5-6 sticks cost around $5-8 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Ideal in treating pain associated with menstruation and cramps
  • Often treated with hot flashes when mixed with calcium (so ideal for menopause)
  • Nourishes the “yin” of the body

Any precautions?

  • A cooling ingredient may contradict those with a cooler body, so take caution
  • As it is a cooling ingredient, women who are pregnant in their first trimester should avoid or minimize consumption