There are records of the use of Chinese tonic teas as far back as 2500 years ago, one ancient text lists 52 ‘tonic’ herbs recommended for health and vitality. Since then these tonics and teas have been refined and interestingly, are still very much a part of Chinese modern living, still being relied upon by both the old and young, to cure and prevent a wide range of ailments and needs.
The biggest benefits of tonic teas, are that they strengthen and balance the body so that it can fight illness, unlike many modern medicines, which might heal the ailment, but often weaken the body at the same time. Tonic teas are used with prevention in mind, emphasising the promotion of health, strengthening immunity so we are less susceptible to getting sick or vulnerable to what causes disease in the first place.
‘Superfood’ is a buzz word we have been hearing for a few years now, but many of these foods, such as Goji Berries, have been used in Chinese remedies and tonics for hundreds of years. Traditionally known as Chinese tonic herbs, they are said to promote happiness, longevity, and radiance, to help maintain balance in the body as well as increasing stamina and vitality.
Traditionally Chinese herbal remedies are either steeped or boiled in hot water and then drunk. Many of the ingredients can also be found cooked into the main dishes of a meal, during the different seasons.
For us in Western culture, we can also benefit from these simple Chinese ingredients and recipes. Below are two traditional Chinese teas that are known in most households and are used whenever one is feeling under the weather. I have also included two recipes using ingredients that Chinese would add to foods during the change of season or when immune is normally low, like during winter. I’ve incoratorped the ingredients into two drinks, one blended and one juiced. Both are great for building your immune system and energy as well as for helping your body cope with the changes of season. Both are also easy to create and include in your daily routine.
Important Ingredients and their benefits.
Note: All of the ingredients can be found in your local supermarket, Asian grocery store and tea shop
Chrysanthemum tea (can be substituted with Chamomile tea): used to settle the stomach and to cleanse your system, also used to calm the spirit.
Goji Berries, Chinese red dates: both of these ingredients are now considered super foods and are great to add to your diet. They help with the production, purification and circulation of blood. They are also high in vitamins C and D and are a good source of Iron.
Ginger & Turmeric: both are known to reduce pain and inflammation, they help with the flu by killing bacteria and can reduce swelling of the throat. Also used to settle the stomach and stop nausea.
Chili: boosts blood circulation, is known to clear sinus inflammation and is antibacterial.
Lemon: boosts your immune system with Vitamin C and alkalizes your body so infection has no place to live.
Mandarin skin: contains high levels of Vitamin C so helps boost your immune system, helps the flow of blood circulation and is an expectorant for chesty coughs.
Chamomile and Goji Tea
Use: Stomach upset or change of season, calming
1 tsp Chrysanthemum or Chamomile tea
6 Goji berries
3 slices of Ginger
Steep in hot water for 5 minutes.
Asian Pear and Mandarin Tea
Use: Sore Throat, coughs, nausea
¼ Asian pear thinly sliced
2 pieces of Rock sugar
1/3 Mandarin skin
Steep in hot water for 5 minutes.
Red Hot Flu Shots
Use: fights flu, cold, and sore throat.
1 Red Chili
1 cm piece of Ginger
1 cm piece of Turmeric
Juice all ingredients together
Energy Booster Smoothie
Use: boosts energy and strengthens the blood.
A handful of Spinach
2 large Chinese Dates
Water or coconut water
1 tsp Shredded coconut
5-6 Goji berries
Blend ingredients and serve with shredded coconut and goji berries sprinkled on top.