Ingredient Name: Wolfberry leaves (also known as goji berry leaves, barbary matrimony vine leaves, bocksdorn leaves, Duke of Argyll’s tea tree leaves, red medlar leaves or matrimony vine leaves)
Traditional Chinese Name: 枸杞 (gǒu gǒu)
Yes, this picture is of the wolfberry plant! It was grown in my mother’s backyard vegetable garden and for the sole purpose of soup production. I used to drink this soup all the time as a child and it still brings back fond memories of my great soup past. However, I never (and still don’t) enjoy eating the leaves, but they do make for a healthy and rich soup. The taste is very distinct and it’s either you love it or hate it. The Chinese say that the taste is very “golden”.
- Young shoots grow to be about 2-3 m in height with heart shaped light to dark green leaves
- They grow in bundles with a very strong and firm bark or stem
- A relatively easy plant to grow and are suitable for growth in most regions (they often grow wildly in fields)
- They are slightly cold in nature and the leaves are slightly bitter to taste
- Leaves are often used in Chinese herbal teas and soups (or as a leaf vegetable in dishes)
How do I prepare it?
- Remove from stem and rinse in warm water
Where can I buy this?
- Most Asian supermarkets will carry this produce fresh
What is the cost?
- Wolfberry leaves are very affordable with a few dollars (CAD) per large bunch
- Has an effective to remove heatiness
- It aids in reducing thirst and has a calming effect on the body (thereby eliminating anxiety)
- Extremely high carotene content
- Excellent source of Vitamin E
- Some species of wolfberries and leaves are known to contain a toxic ingredient called Atropine (naturally occurring)
- Not many concrete studies are available on the benefits of wolfberries and their leaves
- Said to be slightly cooling, so precaution to be taken with women who are pregnant in their first trimester (as cooling ingredients cause contractions)
- Fresh wolfberry leaves can keep for up to 3 days in the fridge