Traditional recipes are finding new relevance and popularity in modern times, says DIANA LAM.
For centuries, many in the East have been widely enjoying the benefits of ancient herbal teas and soups. Made with an array of dried natural ingredients, the combinations for teas and soups are endless. Yet, there’s one Chinese herbal recipe that’s caught the eye, or more accurately, the taste buds of those in the West. This classic recipe is typically used to alleviate colds, increase energy, stimulate blood flow and facilitate overall good health. It begets the question: What’s in this herbal formula that piques the palettes of Westerners?
The ingredient list is simple: Chinese red dates, goji berries, codonopsis roots, licorice roots and astragalus. The cooking method, even simpler: Place the five herbs into a pot and let it boil for 30 minutes on medium heat. However, a more in-depth look into each ingredient sheds insight as to why we should perhaps all be brewing this recipe too.
Chinese red dates
Grown in China for over 4000 years, these dates are known for their sweet flavor and numerous health benefits. Chinese red dates are commonly consumed as a snack or in teas, soups and meals. It is believed to help protect the liver, improve sleep, reduce cholesterol and prevent cancer as it’s rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. According to a 2017 study conducted on animals, consuming this powerful fruit may also improve memory and protect brain cells from damage.
Goji berries (Wolfberry)
These little red berries have grown in popularity over the years and are considered a superfood in the West for many health benefits. It is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, iron, zinc and antioxidants. Many consume the berries to improve vision, regulate blood sugar, aid in weight loss and boost the immune system. Participants in a study conducted on goji berry consumption have reported an increase in energy, sleep quality, focus, calmness and overall well-being.
Similar in appearance and function to ginseng, but less potent. Its beneficial in boosting vitality, encouraging blood flow and strengthening the spleen and lungs to assist in better Qi (energy) movement. It is also believed to relieve fatigue and improve immune systems.
Licorice root (Gan Cao)
Licorice root is said to detoxify the spleen, relieve fatigue and improve overall Qi (energy). Many consume the root to alleviate pain, coughs, sore throats, fatigue and more. They are typically used in herbal recipes as a harmoniser to balance other herbs.
Astragalus is an immune building plant that’s part of the Leguminosae (beans and legumes) family. For many years, it has been used in the East to boost immune systems, act as an anti-inflammatory, slow or prevent the growth of tumors, protect the cardiovascular system and aid in better sleep. On top of that, many also consume this plant for its anti-aging properties. Although little scientific research has been conducted to prove such claims, many still swear by this herb.