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 soup is an easy and sweet soup that is perfect to warm you up on a chilly autumn or winter’s day. Chicken is considered to be very nourishing (補) and can give your body a good kick of healthy heartiness (this is similarly recognized by Westerners who drink chicken noodle soup when sick). To sweeten the soup, red dates are added. We also suggest adding a palmful of wolfberries to boost the qi or “chi” which is ideal for cool weather. Carrots round out this simple yet delicious soup. You can see from the photo that this recipe results in a rich, deeply-colored broth and I can assure you, it’s tasty, too! (Yes, I’m drinking as I type this post.) Depending on whether you use a fresh, whole chicken or alternatives, the difficulty of creating this soup can vary from 1-star (from pre-washed and cut chicken with minimal preparation) to 4-star (whole chicken from scratch).
Add red dates to your soup water and bring to a boil
When the water boils, combine all the ingredients together
Boil on medium-high for at least 1 hour
A warm soup that is perfect for autumn or winter
Chicken is very nourishing (補) and creates a healthful soup
Red dates are an excellent source of Vitamin C
Red dates are also used in throat-soothing drinks
Wolfberries are high in antioxidants and contain 6 essential vitamins, Beta-Carotene, Calcium, Potassium, Iron and Zinc
Wolfberries are also known to enhance the qi or “chi” in your body
Any tips or precautions?
Whenever using real, whole chicken, it’s useful to have an oil scooper on hand to help scoop out the fat and any large or small particles that float to the top of your soup. I usually need to use the scoop two or three times — once after the soup is fully boiled and still hot and there is an abundance of oil floating on the top, then once again after the soup has cooled slightly and you have additional oil and particles that have had time to float to the surface, and usually once again upon re-heating (possibly the next day).
Feel free to drink the same soup the next day after re-boiling. I like to make an extra big pot and any that isn’t finished can be drank and finished off the next day.
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.
The key highlight of this tea is the wood ear. Wood ear in Traditional Chinese Medicine is known to reduce hypertension (lower blood pressure), support blood flow and circulation, tonifies and nourishes the blood and Qi, and alleviates coughs, moistening the lungs and removing phlegm.
To make this super potent, after you boil the tea, remove the wood ear and slice into small pieces and serve as a snack (or with the tea).
I’ve also made wood ear salads, which allows you to still consume wood ears with more diversity in your diet!
For post partum:
This tea I drank as a confinement tea and within the first 0-5 days of confinement to help eliminate the lochia. It’s a simple tea with 3 ingredients (the meat is optional if you’re vegetarian) and very easy to make. It’s a sweet, slightly tart tea and must be drank hot/warm. It’s one of the better tasting teas I know available for confinement! You can boil a whole big batch for 5 days worth, refrigerate and then reheat when needed or boil fresh batches everyday. It is recommended to drink 1-2 glasses a day (depending if you’ve got other teas or soups already filling your tummy!). Do not add additives like sugar or salt. Keep it clean, light and natural.
Soak your dates and wood ear for 10-15 minutes in cool water
Boil your soup or tea water
When the water boils, add all the ingredients together and boil on a medium boil (covered) for 1.5 hours
Serve hot/warm directly as is
You can pre-soak the wood ear first thing in the morning. This will soften until you need to boil them.
Be sure to buy and use pitted red dates as the seeds are quite fiery (not in a good way). Some red dates come pre-seeded, but if not, you can use a sharp knife and remove them or halve them first and remove.
Red Dates (also known as jujubes, or Chinese dates)
Traditional Chinese Name:
红枣 (hóng zǎo)
This is a MUST HAVE in your Chinese soup (or cooking) pantry! These little round, shriveled bright red fruit can come in a variety of sizes, cuts, shapes, and with or without seeds. The fresh fruit itself is seeded in its mature state produced by the Ziziphus zizyphus trees, which are commonly found in Asia and some parts of Europe and India. In Chinese cuisine, it’s actually one of our staple ingredients and I keep some in my kitchen pantry all year round. They are found in Chinese soups, desserts, stews, and dishes, as well as eaten as dried snacks and in teas.
How do I prepare it?
The only preparation needed for dried red dates is to rinse with warm water and to pit the seeds if needed. To remove the seeds from the fruit, I use a pair of clean scissors and just snip them away (see video of the Red Dates and Longan Chinese Herbal Tea for preparation of the red dates). You can buy them pitted or unpitted at your local Chinese supermarket or wet market.It’s quite interesting to observe the varying firmness and hardness of these dried fruits. You’ll find red dates that are softer and squishier, so much easier to cut.
Where can I buy it?
You can purchase red dates 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?
A package costs around $3-5 CAD
However, if you buy direct from the Chinese dried food stores, the prices will also range depending on the quality of the dried red dates and whether they are pitted or not, with pitted being more expensive.
Red dates are known to assist in maintaining healthy blood pressure and assist the stomach and spleen in poor appetites
It is also commonly used to address stress in drinks and teas
Due to its sweetness, it is soothing to the throat and used to treat sore throats
Red dates are an excellent source of Vitamin C
A common ingredient found for Chinese confinement
Be sure you are buying red dates from a reputable source as some red dates do carry diseases
For soups, use pitted dates. The seeds are known to create “fire” in the body and not usually ideal
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
The dried red dates is one of them! Check it out in my video to learn more!