As a child we grew up with all kinds of herbal infused stew concoctions as food, drinking medicinal herbal tea’s made of leaves, root and spices to invigorate and/or recuperate bodily functions and boost immune system. Lighter infusions such as tisane for alleviation or purification for cold, headache, stomach upset, bowel stimulation and other minor or chronic ailments. The later better known as Chinese detox teas are a popular medicinal category tisanes.
Chamomile GouQi Zi Tea
I just prepared Chamomile (Camomile) GouQi Tea, an infusion (of dried herbs, fruit blends) used as a beverage or for medicinal effects also known as Tisane. Today I am drinking it as to rejuvenate myself and enjoying its fragrance and beauty of flowers and berries in my cup.
Tisanes are infusions that don’t contain true tea leaves (Camellia Sinensis). They are made from flowers, berries, peels, seeds, leaves and roots of other plants. In the World of Tea all “true tea’s” leaves stem from the plant Camellia Sinensis.
We do call many herbal and fruit brews “tea’s”, a drink, remedy, or extract prepared by soaking tea leaves or herbs in liquid known as infusions or Tisane. The process of extracting certain active properties as with Tisanes are characterized or indicated by ingredients of plants parts, either the flower, leaves, flower, root, bark, seed and spices.
Very well known are Chamomile, Mint, Lavender and ginger infusions. These are single used plant parts, but often tisanes are made from multiple parts of the same plant or blends of several plant types and can be classified as medicinal.
While some tisanes have long histories of medicinal use, the well known infusions (e.g. Mint as refreshing and Lavender as a natural sleep aid) are popular consumed for enjoyment and relaxation. In Asia especially China, Chinese Traditional Medicine Tea’s are daily consumed as a part of lifestyle and for their medicinal effects and benefits since many recipes and/or blends are high in antioxidants and nutrients.
There are two types of chamomile commonly used for teas, the “true” chamomile, or German chamomile, Matricaria recutita, which is most widely used and Roman chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile.
Chamomile medicinal benefits; boost the immune system, to help relaxing sleep aid, treatment for fevers, colds, stomach ailments, and as anti-septic an anti-inflammatory. As a child suffering bronchitis I was prescribed to use as a vapor it alleviates cold symptoms and asthma. Because of its medicinal properties and best known for its calming and soothing qualities, it is wonderful to sip just to ease away stress and discomfort.
In Chinese Chamomile tea 洋甘菊茶 Yánggānjú chá, to make a cup of Chamomile tea it’s important to use water that is very hot but not boiling because boiling water can destroy the therapeutic properties of the Chamomile herb. For more info on organic Chinese Chamomile Tea read full text here.
Known side effects of chamomile: “Like any supplement or herbal product, talk to your doctor before adding chamomile supplements to your diet. Potential interactions include: aspirin, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, sedatives and any blood thinning medication (Coumadin, Plavix, Pradaxa, aspirin, Lovenox). Chamomile has the potential to interact with other supplements”.
Chinese GouQi Zi 枸杞子
GouQi Zi 枸杞子 also called GoJi or wolfberries, is hugely important and popular herb used throughout Chinese cuisine, yields a number of health benefits used in Chinese traditional medicine. The Chinese Wolfberry is one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits around and has anti-aging properties, for greater benefit it is often used in combination with other herbs. GouQi Zi – GoJi berries have an orange-reddish color, the dried berries have a similar shape and chewy texture as raisins with a slight sweet -sour note giving a mild tangy aftertaste.
Modern research confirms Gou Qi Zi’s jack-of-all-trades status by demonstrating positive effects on the immune and cardiovascular systems, including an anti-neoplastic effect against cancer cells. So every time they trot out a new ancient “superfood” from the jungles of some exotic land to squash into some overpriced mega-ultra-power-bomb-health-drink, inform yourself thoroughly before splashing out the cash. For home made remedies just add few berries to your infusion, soups or stews cheap and cheerful, as for inspiration search for Chinese herbal medicine recipes.
As for the benefits of medicinal health tonics, for Westerners who are not familiar with Chinese medicines in general I would strongly suggest to visit a TCM doctor first before starting to experiment on yourself as a guinea pig. Herbal medicines have health benefits and side effects, if not properly used or wrong administration of herbal medicine causing danger to health.
Especially marketeers popularizing GoJi drinks and teas have not your health but high turnover as their objective, caution is needed as in consuming large quantities and possible drug interactions. “Too much of a good thing, can make you sick, it is Balance that matters most”.
For first time buyers in Europe I would recommend to visit qualified TCM practice, Chinese herbal medicine shops or Chinese Supermarkets rather than local Health Food stores. Health food stores purchases the product based on promising marketing information without proper knowledge yet of medicinal properties and uses. You can read more about GouQi Zi medicinal qualities and other Chinese herbs in English here for information.