Chinese Red Date Tea / Jujube Tea 红枣茶 “Hóngzǎo Chá”

Chinese red dates or jujube (known as hóngzǎo 红枣 in Mandarin) have been used for over 2,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine, often prescribed to increase a person’s “qi” 气 or “life energy”. The concept of “qi” in Chinese culture is similar to India’s “prana” प्राण ; both focus on the vital life energy that flows through the human body.

Dried red dates are boiled with water to make a basic red date tea (known as hóngzǎo chá 红枣茶. “Hóngzǎo”   红枣 means “red dates” and “chá” 茶 means “tea” in Mandarin). Variations of this basic tea would feature the addition of other ingredients depending on various factors such as the weather, state of health etc. For instance, ginger would be added during winter, as ginger is believed to be warming, thus helping to provide warmth and immunity during the cold winter months. Goji berries 枸杞 “gǒuqǐ” (also known as wolfberries 杞子 “qǐ zi” ) and dried longan 龙眼 “lóngyǎn” are commonly paired when making the tea for new mothers during the month-long confinement period (zuò yuè zi 坐月子) to help restore and replenish strength and immunity.

The tea can be drunk hot or cold, depending on circumstance; during cold months, and for new mothers, it is often drunk hot. During sweltering, summer months, the tea finds favor chilled.

The tea is sometimes sweetened with honey or rock sugar, however, this is not necessary as the dates are naturally quite sweet.

Version 1 (Basic red date tea)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dried Chinese red dates
  • 2-3 cups water (Adjust quantity of water to your preference. For a stronger tea, reduce the quantity, for a lighter tea, increase the quantity)
  • Honey to taste (optional)

 

Method:

Wash the red dates.

Combine water and dates in a pot.

Over low heat, bring water to a boil, then let simmer until dates are soft. The liquid will turn into a reddish-golden color.

Add honey to taste if desired.

Stop heat and serve.

 

Version 2 (Red dates, longan and wolfberry tea)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dried Chinese red dates
  • 1/2 cup longan
  • 1/2 tbsp goji berries
  • 2-3 cups water
  • Honey to taste (optional)

 

Method:

Wash the red dates, longan and goji berries.

Combine the red dates, longan, goji berries and water in a pot.

Over low heat, bring water to a boil, then let simmer until dates are soft. The liquid will turn into a reddish-golden color.

Add honey to taste if desired.

Stop heat and serve.

 

Version 3 (Red dates and ginger tea)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dried Chinese red dates
  • 1 inch piece ginger – sliced
  • 2-3 cups water
  • Honey to taste (optional)

 

Method:

Wash the red dates.

Combine the red dates, ginger and water in a pot.

Over low heat, bring water to a boil, then let simmer until dates are soft. The liquid will turn into a reddish-golden color.

Add honey to taste if desired.

Stop heat and serve.

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