Chuanxiong

Ingredient Name: Chuanxiong, Szechuan lovage, lovage

Traditional Chinese Name: 川芎 (Chuānxiōng)

What is this?
  • A fundamental herb in Chinese medicine
  • This herb belongs to the carrot family, is native to East Asia and is a perennial herb with massive fist-like rhizomes
  • The rhizome itself is irregular shaped and brown in color
  • You can find this root available as dried, powdered, sliced, tablets, capsules and even root oil

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in warm water for 10 minutes and rinse before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • Some wet marts will have this in the herbal shops
  • Chinese medicine shops will definitely have this as well (and it does come in various sizes, shapes and forms)

What is the cost?

  • This is not an expensive herb
  • It is commonly sold together with other ingredients (for the tea, drink or Chinese medicine you want to make)

Any benefits?

  • Chuanxiong helps with the circulation of the qi
  • It aids in expelling wind from the body
  • It is antibacterial, antiviral and can act as an anti-inflammatory agent
  • One of the valuable properties of this plant is it pain killing ability
  • It is commonly used to improve blood circulation (such as irregular menstruation or amenorrhea)
  • Chuanxiong is also good for reducing abdominal pain, head pains, head aches, pain due to injuries

Any precautions?

  • Take caution when serving to children (use in moderation as with all Chinese medicine)
  • It is recommended that pregnant women also avoid this herb (but conversely is used in postpartum treatment to eliminate excess blood)
  • If you’ve got a naturally warm body, use with caution as sometimes “warm”  ingredients or soups will make you heated
  • Be sure to purchase from a reputable source

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place (up to 6 months)

Fried Licorice Root

Ingredient Name: Mizhi Licorice root, Fried Licorice (Liquorice), Sweet root, Chinese Licorice, Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Traditional Chinese Name: 灸甘草 (jiǔ gān cǎo)

What is this?

  • This is a variation of the Licorice root, but is prepared with honey and fried
  • The root of the licorice plant which is extracted and dried
  • Common Chinese herbal ingredient and often found in Chinese medicines
  • Mainly grown in China (Eastern & Northern parts)
  • Slightly sweet in flavor
  • The fried version is said to be more effective on the stomach and relieving diarrhea

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water prior to use

Where can I buy this?

  • This is available in most Asian supermarkets
  • Also available in Chinese herbals stores

What is the cost

  • 10 g cost around $2-3 HKD
  • Extremely affordable

Any benefits?

  • Used to aid cough, sore throat, asthma and remove phlegm
  • Helps in detoxifying the body
  • Helps relieve diarrhea
  • When it is fried, it is considered warm

Any precautions?

  • People with heart disease or high blood pressure should be cautious about using licorice

References

Atractylodes or Bai Zhu

Ingredient Name: Atractylodes, atractylodes lancea, bai zhu, dong zhu, xia zhu

Traditional Chinese Name: 白朮 (bai zhu)

What is this?
  • This is the rhizome of a plant in the genus that is similar to that of the daisy
  • The rhizome is dried and the stems and roots are cut from it
  • The atractylode is a common Chinese herb and is bitter and warm in characteristics
  • It is used to treat dampness (ideal for the Spring), reduce sweating, promotes digestion and acts on the spleen and stomach
  • It is primarily used in Chinese medicines more than soups (used in teas)
  • Good condition bai zhu is slightly sticky to texture and moist

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in warm water for 10 minutes and rinse before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • Some wet marts will have this in the herbal shops
  • Chinese medicine shops will definitely have this as well (and it does come in various sizes)

What is the cost?

  • This is not an expensive herb
  • It is commonly sold together with other ingredients (for the tea you want to make)

Any benefits?

  • It is used to treat dampness (ideal for the Spring), reduce sweating, promotes digestion and acts on the spleen and stomach
  • It is slightly warm, but does also remove heatiness (by carrying some heat out of the body through elimination of dampness)
  • It improves the overall immune system
  • Atractylodes is also anti bacterial and helps lower blood sugar levels

Any precautions?

  • Take caution when serving to children (use in moderation as with all Chinese medicine)
  • If you’ve got a naturally warm body, use with caution as sometimes “warm”  ingredients or soups will make you heated
  • Be sure to purchase from a reputable source

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place (up to 6 months)

 

Chrysanthemum (Dried)

Chrysanthemum (Dried)

Chrysanthemum (Dried)

Ingredient Name:

Chrysanthemums, Mums, Chrysanths

Traditional Chinese Name:

菊花 (jú huā)

This ingredient is cooling and bitter sweet.

I’m a huge fan of this dried herb!  You can find it commonly used in Chinese restaurants as a tea which you can order, at supermarkets as bulk, at Asian herbal shops, and even in some western herbal tea blends.  When seeped, it turns the liquid into a bright clear yellow.  You can actually eat the flowers if you’d like, but they do disintegrate quite a bit and can be difficult to drink with all that stuff floating around 🙂

The chrysanthemum flower is widely known as a cooling ingredient in both Chinese food and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  If you’ve got lots of “hot air” (yeet hay) or feeling very heaty, this is the go to herbal drink.  It’s actually very common in Hong Kong to find chrysanthemum bottled or boxed drinks.  

This is a perennial flower plant that has many variations (different colours such as white, pinks, yellows) in various shapes and sizes.  It was first cultivated in China for herbal properties and is used in teas, drinks, desserts and various other Chinese dishes.  It is often purchased dried for consumption and has a very distinct taste and scent.

How do I prepare it?

      • You can rinse in warm water first as sometimes there are bugs floating around, but not too long as not to seep out the flavours.No other preparation needed.

What is the cost?

      • The price will range from a few dollars to tens of dollars depending on the size, make, and brand of the dried flowers

      • There are smaller full buds, which tend to be more expensive, or the shredded bloomed ones, which are cheaper
      • In general, one tub of 60 g of dried loose flowers can cost around $8 CAD

Any benefits?

      • This ingredient is considered cooling and great to remove and eliminate excess heat and heat from the body
      • It is particularly targeted to the liver (eyes) and lungs
      • It’s often used to help with fever, colds, and headaches
      • It tends to have a cleansing effect by clearing heat and drying dampness in the body
      • This goes will with honey (added in after you’ve boiled or steeped the tea)

Any precautions?

      • It is cooling, so be careful if you’re cold, feeling cold, or have excess yin

      • Not suggested as part of postpartum or confinement consumption as it’s cooling

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Luo Han Guo

Luo Han Guo

Luo Han Guo

Ingredient Name:

Luo Han Guo, Siraitia Grosvernorii, Arhat’s fruit, Monk’s fruit

Traditional Chinese Name:

羅漢果 (luóhàn guǒ)

 This ingredient is slightly cooling and sweet.

 

This fruit grows on a vine plant common to southern China and northern Thailand and is often used dried in soups and teas.  There are normally 2 versions of this dried fruit you can find in the supermarkets, a very dark brown version (more dry) and a golden version (less dry and less pungent).

This dried herbal ingredient is considered cooling and is sweet to taste.  It’s actually a great sweetener to teas without needing to add any sugar.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this herb is great for eliminating coughs, nourishing and moisturizing the lungs, and replenishing yin.  It can help cool both the body and the lungs and targets the lungs and large intestines.

I’ve used this both in soups and teas.  It creates a dark color to the soup and has a particularly sweet taste to it.  I’d recommend trying a quarter first (I used 4 cups of water for teas and 3L of water for soup).  You would want the soups to be more dilute because the soup is more savory than sweet.  Try it!

How do I prepare it?

    For the dried versions, I will rinse under warm water first and pat dry.  Then using the flat side of a knife, smash it.  Literally!  It will break into shreds as the outer shell is very hard and reveal a shriveled core with seeds.  Some use only the shell, but I’ll use both the core and shell.
    For soups, I’ll only use a quarter, but some recipes do call for half if you’d like.  It’s really a preferred taste on how sweet you’d like it.
    For teas, I will also use only a quarter.

Where can I buy it?

      • You can purchase these from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged
      • You can also purchase this in bulk from specialty stores (online herbal shops)
      • The one thing I did notice is that the Chinese prepared ones are different from Western prepared red dates.  So just check to be sure they look like the above photos.  

What is the cost?

      • In Canada, I’ve bought them for 4 for $8 CAD, so around $2 per golden fruit

      • The dark brown ones cost a little less
      • In Hong Kong, I’ve seen them for $5 HKD per monk fruit

Any benefits?

      • A cooling herb designed to cool the body and lungs
      • It targets the lungs and help nourish, moisten, and replenish lung yin
      • It’s designed for yin deficiency primarily (or also dry heat, which is excess yang) and also replenishes Qi and Blood
      • This ingredient is already sweet, so you don’t need much sugar if you’re making a tea
      • It’s packed full of antioxidants and helps detoxify the body
      • Great for addressing dry coughs and sore throats!

Any precautions?

      • It’s a pretty pungent fruit, so taste test how much you’ll need (add less first)

      • It’s also a cooling herb, so consume if you have more heaty conditions

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