Savoured for their delicate sweet taste, Chinese red dates and longans may appear unassuming in appearance, however these little sweet packages are more than just a fruit that people enjoy snacking on, they are also treated as a traditional herbal medicine. For centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), red dates and longans have been used in tandem for their blood and qi replenishing properties. And when combined with ginger and hawthorn, these four ‘warm’ in nature herbs help to dispel cold ‘han’ in the body.
Dr. Helena Hua Sun (International Medical Excellent Paper Winner and council member of WFCMS) from The Sun Chinese Medical Centre has shared a recipe to a warming sweet soup that helps promote replenishing the body’s blood and qi, whilst also dispelling cold.
Here’s a simple breakdown of each TCM ingredient as well as its nature and therapeutic actions:
A sweet red fruit that is ‘warm’ in nature and is a tonic herb usually used to help with qi deficiency. Tonifies the spleen and stomach qi, as well as blood by nourishing and replenishing the qi, yin and yang of the body when it is deficient or weak.
Another sweet fruit with white flesh that is ‘warm’ in nature, and is a tonic herb used to help nourish the blood when there is a deficiency. In addition, it is a herb used to relieve fatigue.
Fresh ginger is a ‘warm’ natured TCM herb that helps to dispel coldness by warming and circulating qi. It helps to counteract external cold that can invade the body by inducing heat and increasing the flow of warmth to the capillaries, which in TCM understanding, helps to expel the external environment from the body, and prevent it from invading further.
A little sour and sweet, hawthorn berries are ‘warm’ in nature, and is a TCM herb that has properties which aid in digestion due to its high enzyme content.
Dried when ripened, lotus seeds are a ‘neutral’ TCM herb that doesn’t affect the balance of the body. It is a herb that helps to tonify the spleen by nourishing and replenishing its qi, strengthen the kidneys and is also used to help stop diarrhoea.
Dried Lily Bulbs:
Taken from the lily flower, dried lily bulbs are a TCM ingredient that is ‘cold’ in nature. It is a tonic herb that is used to help with yin deficiency (when one is lacking in qi, blood, yin and yang). Whilst its ‘cold’ nature helps to clear heat, dried lily bulbs also helps to stop coughing by replenishing the lung’s yin deficiency.
If the days are getting cooler on your side of the hemisphere, and you’re looking to rejuvenate your body with a warming soup, try this TCM red date and longan soup.
This soup is considered more ‘heaty’ due to the warm nature of the ingredients. Please check with your TCM practitioner beforehand to see if this TCM soup is beneficial to your body’s condition.
- 5 dried red dates
- 5 dried longans
- 10g of fresh ginger
- 5g of hawthorn
- 20g of lotus seeds
- 15g of dried lily bulbs
- Brown sugar or crystal sugar to taste
- Cut red dates into smaller pieces, and place in a bowl with dried longans, hawthorn, lotus seeds and dried lily bulbs. Soak these ingredients in water for at least 1 hour.
- Take a small piece of ginger (approximately 10g) and cut into thin slices.
- Take a pot and fill approximately with 8 cups of filtered water and bring to a boil.
- Drain the bowl of soaking ingredients and place into pot of boiling water.
- Add sliced ginger and allow the ingredients to come to a rolling boil.
- Then cover and turn the heat to low, and allow the soup to simmer for around 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, add brown sugar or crystal sugar to your taste, and continue to let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes until all ingredients are well cooked and softened.
- When finished, serve desired amount in a bowl and enjoy warm. All ingredients except for the ginger can be consumed.