When a virus, cold, or flu has you down, my go to hot drink is usually a Chinese Herbal tea that addresses my illness. Lately, I have been tackling yet another virus strain that has left me with a cough and my Chinese Herbalist recommended this easy, smooth, vitamin C packed Chinese tea to address my cough and heal my lungs.
It’s a tea because I don’t use meats or bones, but I don’t actually put any tea leaves in it. The key ingredient is the dried seabed coconut (which is a lung healer and addresses coughs). Also throw in some dried snow pears, dried apricot kernals (north and south), dried lily bulbs, dried tangerine peel, sugared dates, and fresh apples.
According to my Chinese doctor, apples are the only fruit I can consume while with a cough, cold, virus, or flu. They are the most neutral of fruits. In a ceramic pot, boil your water (4 cups worth, which will reduce to 2 cups). When the water boils, add all the ingredients together and cover. Boil on medium for 2 hours until it reduces and the apples become soft.
In the end, you’re left with a slightly tart, slightly sweet, but very smooth and rich tea. You can even eat the apples! For those who don’t like the stuff floating around, you can strain the tea through a thin strainer as bits of apples may be dissolved into the tea (also very yummy!).
Boil your water in a ceramic pot
Half your apples, keeping the skin on (so they don’t completely disintegrate into the tea)
When your water boils, add all the ingredients in together
It started with a cold. My whole family had it, being passed from one person to the other. My symptoms were light though, feeling primarily fatigue throughout a two week period, until the end. I developed this mildly itchy (but highly irritating) cough that just wouldn’t go away, even with cough syrup. So I went to find my Chinese doctor and herbalist who asked me a few questions, asked me to show him my tongue and recommended this mild tea designed to squash that pesky cough.
A majority of the ingredients are cough attacking ingredients and readily found at your wet marts, herbalist, or dried food stalls. They are primarily leafy and stem based, and not a cooling tea at all, but does address heatiness in the body.
Normally, anything cooling actually stimulates coughing more, so these are warm ingredients that are paired perfectly for anyone who wants to try an alternative solution to the drowsy cough medicine. This tea is mild enough for kids, mild enough to drink back to back, slightly warming, but not heaty, and perfect for vegetarians. On top of the dried herbs, chuck in a slice of ginger for good measure!
This tea is already slightly sweet (due to the sugared dried kumquat) and quite soothing to drink. No sugar needed!
This soup or tea is completely designed for the dry, cold, dry, cold, super dry, or super cold winter conditions. It’s a vegetarian (meatless) moisturizing tea suitable for the whole family and tastes super yummy.
You can consider adding fresh snow pears or fresh apples to sweeten it further, just take caution with the amount of rock sugar you add. It’s a combination of the all the ingredients that help being moisture to the lungs, body, skin and internal organs. You can drink this to your heart’s delight!
Do note that snow pears are mildly cool ingredients, so not recommended if you’re in confinement or need to avoid cooling ingredients.
Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 1 hour Total time: 1 hour 15 mins Serves: 2 cups
2 dried snow fungus, soaked and cut into quarters (removing the center, see video below)
Soak the dried snow fungus in warm water until it is completely covered. Let it sit for about 15 minutes until it has become soft and large. Using a pair of scissors, cut it quarters while removing the hard yellow middle.
In a separate bowl, soak in warm water the dried tangerine peel for 5 minutes.
Once the tangerine peel softens, using the face of a knife, scrape off the darker side of the peel (this is the bitter part) just slightly.
Start to boil your tea water
When the water boils, add all the dried snow pear, apricot kernals, tangerine peel, dried dates, dried lily bulbs together.
Boil on medium heat for 1 hour.
In the last 5 minutes, drop in the rock sugar and mix.
Serve and enjoy! Ideal to drink hot in the winter time!
The ingredients are pretty common in Hong Kong or your local Asian supermarket. And you can buy them in bulk and store them in a dry, sealed container for many months – or in the fridge for even longer.
Preparing the Snow Fungus (video)
For snow fungus, you’ll need to soak them in warm water for some time – pretty much until they explode into giant balls. Normally, people don’t eat the hard middles, but you can still cut it out and put it in with the soup. The tricky thing with snow fungus is that it dissolves into the soup. This means, the soup gets thicker and stickier the longer you boil it with snow fungus (scientifically speaking is that the viscosity of the liquid increases). You can remove the snow fungus halfway through if you don’t like it so thick.
My herbalist suggested I drink a simple tea made of red dates during my period. It’s super easy to make, as the dates are already sitting in the fridge and you just add hot water. Some people will boil it with a few other ingredients, such as wolfberries and fresh ginger slices. This is also an ideal confinement drink if you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth – replace this in place of coffee or tea to avoid the caffeine, but get the benefits of the blood replenishment.
This nice slightly sweet and very tart tea was introduced by my herbalist who suggested I make it for my dad (while he was visiting HK). The tea is designed for people who would like to lose weight, reduce the fat content in their bodies, reduce blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and help clear the blood of the impurities that come with a not so healthy diet. That’s not to say my dad’s not healthy, but he does enjoy all foods – so this tea will help balance out a delicious, heavy meal and aid in digestion. The tea is super tart, so you can add either apples or a sprinkle of sugar to sweeten it up. It’s best drank either at room temperature or hot.
This drink is literally called “Open Voice Tea”. I’m not posting the ingredients to this tea because I don’t actually know them all. I bought this as a prepackaged “tea” from my Chinese doctor because I lost my voice due to a cold or cough or throat infection (I’m not sure because it’s been a long 4-week marathon of illness). What you will notice in this tea is that there are these GIANT, MEGA flies in them. I have yet to figure out what breed they are and what are the uses, but my Chinese colleagues at work have told me that it’s common to drink these flies when one loses their voice (so it’s not completely a wacko’s idea of a joke). The tea tastes pretty minty and thoroughly bitter and I didn’t enjoy it one bit. I’m not sure whether it worked or not, but I did eventually get my voice back after drowning myself in Chinese medicine because all else failed. You can buy this prepackaged from your local herbalist or Chinese doctor and it cost around $30 HKD per pack. I’m not a fan of Chinese medicine, but I couldn’t help post this very interesting discovery.
What ingredients are required?
Ask your Chinese doctor or herbalist if such a tea exists. I didn’t delve too deeply into the ingredients because I was in a rush and just wanted something to give me my voice back. I will write this section if and when I have time to go back to dissect it.
How do I prepare it?
Put all the ingredients into a cup
Add boiling water to the brim and steep for 5 minutes
Drain or pour out the tea only
You can drink the tea a few times by adding boiling water back into the original cup (repeat above instructions)
It’s supposed to help you recover your “lost” voice – literally
I drank 2 cups in a period of about 3 hours and started getting dizzy right after (ie: felt like I was on a floating high – oscillating around the office)
Take caution if you don’t think you can handle too cooling ingredients (definitely ask the Chinese doctor)