Making Mom’s Traditional Chinese Herbal Tea

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“Drink your tea.” 

It was a message I heard often as a child. Raised in Canada in a Chinese household, traditional Chinese herbal soups and drinks were a staple. My mom would make it every so often as a way to ‘cleanse’ my body from all the McDonald’s I used to eat after school. And, like any normal ten-year-old kid, I wrinkled my nose in disgust as I drank it. 

Fifteen years later and I live hundreds of miles away from home in a small apartment,  work long hours and, not surprisingly, don’t maintain the same healthy eating habits that my mom instilled upon me when I was younger. My diet consists of coffee and takeout. My mom would classify all the foods I ate as 熱氣, pronounced ‘yeet hay’, in Cantonese, which literally translates to ‘hot air’. The term gets its roots from traditional Chinese medicine, but has nothing to do with temperature. It relates to the energies within the food itself and how it makes you feel after eating it. 

According to my mom, too much ‘hot’ food, such as fries, chips, and chili peppers, often leads to flushed faces, inflammation and, for me, acne. Too much ‘cold’ food, of the opposite energy, such as watermelon and bananas, could lead to fatigue, paleness and sore joints. 

Chinese medicine and Chinese diet is all about balance. Eat too much of one, balance it out with the other. Which is exactly why my mom made me several different traditional Chinese teas when I was younger. 

In an effort to balance out my less than ideal diet, I decided to try and make one of the teas my mom used to brew for me. I called her up and she gave me the recipe for Chinese Ginger Tea with Jujubes. I knew I wouldn’t be able to find these ingredients at the nearest Trader Joe’s so I ventured out to my nearest Chinese supermarket. Note, if you need help navigating a typical Asian supermarket, check out this post. 

Once home, I sliced up some ginger, halved the jujubes and tossed both of those along with some Chinese brown sugar (for sweetness) in a large pot with some purified water. I simmered this for 4 hours. 

Once it was done, I strained the tea and sat down with a hot cup of nostalgia. The sharp fragrance of the ginger and jujubes was everything I remembered from my childhood. The tea itself was refreshing and just what I needed to balance out all the fried food I had been eating lately. I’m a bigger fan of cold teas, so I poured the rest into a pitcher and placed it into the fridge for later.

I realized afterwards that it took over 5 hours and a trip to the Chinese supermarket for me to make this tea. And while it made me appreciate the time and effort my mom used to put in, as a working professional, I didn’t have the time to do this often.

That’s when I came across Bo-yi. They took all the work out of making my own tea with their ready-to-go beverages with the same traditional flavors that I love and the same health benefits that my mom would approve of. My favorite flavor so far is their Jujube tea, which tastes similar to the one I brewed. I find it’s even better than the VitaSoy drinks that I love, but tend to avoid due to how sugary they are. The teas from Bo-yi taste and feel healthy and weren’t too sugary which is exactly what I need!

Written by guest, Carrie Law, Founder of East Meets Feast


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