Chinese jujube and goji tea (红枣茶)

One of the strictures of Chinese postpartum retreat (zuo yuezi) is that women must not drink water for a month after childbirth.  This does not mean she should not drink fluids; it is important for lactating mothers to drink at least two to three liters of fluid a day. Rather, she should instead drink soups, Chinese medicine, Chinese herbal teas and weirdly enough, water distilled from rice wine.

During my first few days in hospital, I forgot about this rule once or twice.  I was thirsty, so went and filled a thermos full of (warm) water.  Only later did a realise that most new mothers came to hospital equipped with special herbal teas for bottles of distilled rice wine water (Mr Taiwanxifu later bought me some so I could try).  Once home, my postpartum doula (yuepo) fixed me a large pot of Chinese herbal medicine and another of Chinese herbal medicine infused pork rib soup.  I lived on this for over a month, and during this time did not touch ordinary H2O once.

Having lived through the ‘thou shalt drink no water’ experience, I have reflected on why zuo yuezi forbids plain water.  I suspect it is part of using every available opportunity to increase the nutrients that a women receives.  Many of the drinks and fluids have properties that help assist lactating mothers produce milk, and often also have warming and restorative effects.  Some of the fluids, such as those containing barley water, have a diuretic effect (important after all that pregnancy swelling).  Perhaps also there is concern about ingesting too much water; witness people who have died from drinking too much water when exercising in hot weather because they did not get sufficient electrodes.  And before plumbing and filtered water, drinking ordinary water may have been unsanitary.

A popular type of tea during zuo yuezi is a simple concoction made from Chinese red dates (jujubes, 红枣) and goji berries (aka Chinese wolfberries or gouji).  Goji berries have become popular in recent years as a super food; they are indeed high in antioxidants and have natural healing and anti-ageing properties.  In Chinese cuisine they are usually paired with Chinese red dates.  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, both help to restore liver and kidney energy (weak after childbirth) and have restorative, warming properties.  Chinese red dates help rejuvenate the blood, and have eighty per cent more vitamin C than grapes and apples.  And all dates, including red dates, also have lactogenic properties.

Goji berries (left) and Chinese red dates (right)

Goji berries (left) and Chinese red dates (right)

In addition, the combination of Chinese red dates and goji berries is believed to help insomnia and anxiety.  Let’s face it: caring for a newborn baby who rarely sleeps longer than 3 to 4 hours a a time (if you are lucky) is tiring.  And while a new baby is a source of joy, dealing with a crying baby can be so stressful that it throws an unfortunately high percentage of new parents (both mothers and fathers) into postpartum depression.  So why not try a cup or two of soothing, warming jujube and goji tea?

This tea is delicious, and naturally sweet, when made simply from Chinese red dates and goji berries.  Some people add a little bit of brown sugar or honey, but I don’t think it is necessary unless you have a real sweet tooth.  But you can augment it with slices of ginger (especially useful in winter), and you can also add Chinese herbs the most popular for confinement being dong guai.  (It is best to consult your Chinese Traditional Medicine practitioner before taking any Chinese herbal medicine as it is not suitable for everyone.) 

Red date tea can be made with dried longan, sometimes served at weddings as an auspicious drink to wish the couple a large and happy family.  In this form, it is served more as a sweet soup rather than a tea so that people can spoon out the sweet longan flesh.

Basic red date tea:

Ingredients

2 liters water
1/2 cup jujube (Chinese red dates, also known as hongzao — 红枣) — around 15
1/4 cup goji berries (also known as gouji or Chinese wolfberries — 枸杞)

 Method

Rinse the red dates and goji berries in water.  Put them in a saucepan with two liters of water, and bring to boil.  Simmer and cook for around 45 minutes.  Turn off the saucepan and allow to cool.  Serve warm.

Me serving up a sweet bowl of longan, red date and goji soup

Me serving up a sweet bowl of longan, red date and goji soup

With longan

  1. Shell around ten dried longans.  Place in a bowl and cover with warm water, and allow to sit for around ten minutes.  This will help the longans expand and wash them of any remaining outer shell.  With a small paring knife, cut the flesh away from the kernel. 
  2. Add the longans to the red dates and goji berries as per the method above.
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About taiwanxifu

‘Taiwanxifu’ (pronounced ‘shee foo’) means ‘Taiwan daughter-in-law’ in Chinese and has been my nickname ever since I married my Taiwanese husband, Sam. I love sampling Taiwanese food, even local specialties such as stinky tofu, pigs blood cake and Taipei beef noodle soup with offal. But there are many other options on the menu. Promise!
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11 Responses to Chinese jujube and goji tea (红枣茶)

  1. Pingback: Papaya, snow fungus and Chinese red date soup (木瓜銀耳紅棗湯) | Taiwanxifu 台灣媳婦

  2. Pingback: Papaya, snow fungus and Chinese red date soup | Taiwanxifu 台灣媳婦

  3. C;ara says:

    May I know how many Red Dates are there and what are all the flavours. I would like to know the naturally sweet(very) kind of red date. Thank you for your information.

    • taiwanxifu says:

      Hmmm. I don’t know the answer to this. I use a type of Chinese red date called ‘hongzao’. It is naturally sweet and usually served in soups and teas, rather than on its own as with the middle-eastern dates usually sold in ‘Western’ countries.

  4. Dfg says:

    Should the red dates, goji berries and longans be removed before serving? Thanks!

    • taiwanxifu says:

      It depends entirely on personal preference. I usually remove the red dates and goji berries when I am making this tea with just the two ingredients. But I often leave the longans in because then I can eat them as well. Actually, all the ingredients are edible but often people prefer just to drink as a tea without having to flesh things out.

  5. Deepika says:

    Hi Can you please suggest How many times I can take this drink in a day? I am from India, not sure if my body will accept this, any side effects or anything I should take care here !!

    I am a working lady, and I need to study for my exams as well but some how I feel very sleepy all the time thats why cant concentrate on my studies any drink for that as well.

    I am pure vegetarian so please suggest something without egg, meat or any flesh.

    Thanks!

    • taiwanxifu says:

      I think you are pretty safe to drink this throughout the day. It is quite warming, so best drunk in winter (warm) or when you have your period. It is also good for people who suffer from anxiety.

  6. Bloom says:

    It’s better to use clay pot for Chinese soup as some herbs may react to metal.

  7. Pingback: Dose #42 – Longan and Red Date | DAILY DOSE OF ART

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