Bellflower root or Campanulaceae

Ingredient Name: Bellflower root, bell flower, balloon flower, Campanulaceae or Radix Platycodonis

Chinese Name: 桔梗 (jié gěng)

Another “root” to add to the collection.  The Chinese love to use a variety of plant, flower and herb roots and truth be told, for me, they all look and smell the same.  While most roots are considered in the repertoire of Chinese medicine, the usages do vary from season to cause.  I would definitely take caution when using the various types of roots available from your herbalist and definitely use in moderation.

What is this?
  • The dried root of the bellflower
  • It is commonly used in Chinese medicine
  • The flower is found in China, Korea, Japan and Eastern Siberia
  • The roots when dried are beige in color and are long and shriveled looking

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash the dried roots in warm water before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • Commonly found in wet marts in Hong Kong from the herbalist or dried food vendor

What is the cost?

  • Bellflower roots are relatively affordable

Any benefits?

  • Excellent in aiding in coughs and sore throat
  • It is said to help nourish and moisten the lungs
  • Great for quenching thirst

Any precautions?

  • Consume in moderation (only 2-3 slices per soup or drink)
  • Excessive consumption can result in mild nausea and/or vomiting

Additional Information?

  • Dried bellflower roots can store in tightly sealed contained for up to 6 months
Snow Pears (Dried)

Snow Pears (Dried)

Ingredient Name: Snow Pears or Pyrus Nivalis (dried)

Chinese Name: 雪梨幹 (xuě lí gàn) or 梨干 (lí gàn)

This is a great natural additive to any soup or drink, although it is more commonly used in drinks rather than soups.  You can do a combination of dried or fresh snow pears in both soups and drinks and this is almost a great staple to have “just in case” you feel like making a soup but the stores are closed or it’s a typhoon or snow storm.  And of course, no one is to stop you from eating it if you’re in dire hunger.

What is this?
  • An edible fruit grown from pear trees
  • It is usually round and found to grow well in cooler temperatures
  • The snow pear is often firm in handling and is often associated with being on the more sour and tangy side of taste
  • Snow pears are known to be a “cooling” fruit
  • It is often dried with the skin and seeds and dried in disks the size of diameter of the pear

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash the dried snow pears in warm running water
  • Use directly in soups and drinks

Where can I buy this?

  • Commonly found in wet marts in Hong Kong from the herbalist or dried food vendor
  • It is sometimes available in packages in supermarkets (although more as a snack than as an additive to soups or drinks)

What is the cost?

  • Dried snow pears are very affordable costing around $1-2 HKD for 2-3 slices

Any benefits?

  • Pears have 0 fat and provide a healthy intake of natural sugars
  • Pears are also packed with Vitamin A, C and E1
  • They contain excellent amounts of copper and potassium and are packed with carbohydrates
  • Pears also are the least allergenic of all fruits and is often found as a first foods for babies
  • They are said to assist with the lower of cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Pears are excellent laxatives due to their high fiber content

Any precautions?

  • Pears, especially Snow Pears, are known to be a “cooling” food
  • Women who are pregnant or menstruating should take caution when consuming Snow Pears

Any substitutes?

  • “Crystal” pears can also be substituted for Snow Pears in soups
  • Apples are also an ideal substitute

Additional Information?

  • Dried Snow Pears store very well in a sealed container
  • They can be kept in refrigeration for up to 3 months
Fu Ling or Tuckahoe

Fu Ling or Tuckahoe

Ingredient Name: Fu Ling, Zhu Fu Ling, Tuckahoe, White Tuckahoe, Poria, Indian Bread, China Root

Traditional Chinese Name: 茯苓 (fuling) or 雲苓 (yún líng)

What is this?
  • The dried and unprepared wood decay fungus which develops a large deposit (or sclerotium) of fungi clumped together
  • It is most commonly known to be used in Chinese medicines
  • This herb is collected between July & September and is most commonly found in China
  • It has an outer layer of a brown skin and usually a white interior and is quite solid in density
  • Often used in teas and drinks (especially in the summer)
  • It is sweet and light in nature, but tasteless in flavor

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage to ensure all dirt and soil is removed

Where can I buy this?

  • Most herbal shops will carry this
  • Wet marts in Hong Kong will also sometimes carry this

What is the cost?

  • Relatively affordable

Any benefits?

  • Helps in digestion
  • It is neutral in properties and benefits the heart, lungs and spleen
  • It is ideal for removing damp-heat (ideal for Spring and wet conditions)
  • Excellent for cough symptoms, removal of phlegm,  and dizziness

Any precautions?

  • Use in moderation

Any additional information?

  • Store in a cool, dry place
  • Good for use up to 6 months

Resources

Bulbus Fritillariae Cirrhosae

Ingredient Name: Bulbus Fritillariae Cirrhosae, tendrilled fritillary bulb

Traditional Chinese Name: 川貝 (chuān bèi)

What is this?
  • The dried flower bulb of the Fritillaria plant (which is a perennial herb) that contains about 100 species of this bulbous plant
  • The exact plant is the Fritillariae Cirrhosae, which is one of these species
  • A recognized official drug in Chinese medicine
  • The bulbs are often white-beige in color and around 1-2 cm in diameter and are very light weight
  • Various forms of this herb can be found as dried (as pictured above), powdered or cream

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage to ensure all dirt and soil is removed

Where can I buy this?

  • Most herbal shops will carry this
  • Wet marts in Hong Kong will also sometimes carry this
  • Not commonly found in western supermarkets

What is the cost?

  • Not very expensive

Any benefits?

  • Ideal in removing heat and fire from the body
  • Great for bringing moisture to the lungs and throat
  • Helps in dissolving phlegm and relieving coughs
  • Aids in conditions such as asthma, chronic coughs, bronchitis (or other conditions of the lungs)

Any precautions?

  • The unprocessed and raw bulbs are toxic
  • Pregnant woman should avoid this herb (as there is limited visibility and studies on the effects of fetuses)
  • Limit exposure to children as well (for the same reason as above)
  • Purchase from a reputable source

Resources

Licorice Root or Chinese Licorice

Licorice Root or Chinese Licorice

Licorice Root or Chinese Licorice

Ingredient Name:

Dried licorice, licorice root, Chinese licorice, glycyrrhiza glabra, sweet root, sweet grass

Traditional Chinese Name:

甘草 (gān cǎo)

Nature:  Neutral and associated with the spleen, lungs, stomach, kidneys, and heart

Taste:  Sweet and slightly bitter

You can get started on your Chinese Soup Kitchen Pantry from this video!  

 

 

The licorice is one of the key powerhouse herbs that are used to support lung strength, wellness and health, including an herb that penetrates all the meridians of the body, so these benefits can access multiple organs as well!  Did you know that in Europe, licorice is eaten as a candy?  While in the East, it’s more commonly used in Chinese soups, dishes, Chinese herbal teas, and medicine.  Try just taking the dry root as is and nibbling and sucking on it!

How do I prepare it & store it?

      • For teas, you can use ground licorice root, which is available in Western Health stores, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the dried whole sliced root is usually used (as pictured)
      • Typically no preparation needed.  If I’m using purchased dried licorice (in packages), I will use directly from the bag into my soup, tea cup, or glass stove top safe tea pot
      • These ingredients store nicely in plastic or glass containers (or bags), so long as it’s dry for years!  Be sure that moisture is limited and there is no direct exposure to extreme sunlight.

What is the cost & where to buy?

      • In general, one ounce of dried loose flowers can cost around $1-2 CAD (but I have seen the range quite wide)
      • Dried licorice is commonly found in both Western and Eastern stores (both online and instore), although Chinese Herbal shops will sell them as sliced roots more instead of shredded or powdered licorice (which is the preferred cut for Chinese soups, medicine, and herbal teas)

Any benefits?

      • Dried licorice helps nourish and tonify Qi
      • Licorice helps clear heat (but isn’t a cooling ingredient) 
      • It is also a great herb for clearing toxicity from target organs and the meridians
      • This is a useful herb for dispelling phlegm and relieving coughs
      • Helps stops spasms and alleviates pain

Any precautions?

      • Be sure to buy dried licorice from a reputable and reliable source, either online or in person.  

      • Licorice should be used cautiously if there is excess dampness (or water) in the body

Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?

 

 

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