Friday, 4 February 2011


Chinese Red Date Tea/Kinesisk Rødedadler Te/红枣茶[hóng zǎo chá]


- 20 dried red dates
- A handful of dried longans [龙眼] (Chinese dragon eye fruit) (if you want it sweeter, you can add more)
- A handful of goji berries
- 1 honey date (optional)
- 5 pieces of dang shen (red sage root) (optional)
- 2 slices of ginger (optional)
- 1 litre of water

IMPORTANT: The Chinese don’t add sugar to this red date tea. The dried red dates and dried longans contain a lot of sweetness already.

Basically this tea consists of 2-3 main ingredients, namely red dates, longans and/or goji berries. If you have great difficulty finding the rest of the ingredients, just leave them out. You are ready to go even if you only manage to get the red dates. Just make pure red dates tea and drink it :-)

1. Cover and boil all ingredients over slow fire (no. 3 on my stove) for 1 hour or brew it in a slow cooker overnight.
2. Ready to drink or pour it into a thermal flask to keep them warm.

Nutritional Value:

Red dates contains protein, fat, carbohydrates, organic acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, trace of calcium-rich variety of nutrients such as amino acids.

In traditional Chinese medicine, dan shen (red sage root) is considered slightly cold in nature, and is related to the Heart and Liver meridians. It promotes blood circulation, which helps treat irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea; removes heat from the blood (to relieve inflammation); and tranquilizes the mind. It is often used in combination with other herbs, such as peony, Chinese angelica, sandalwood and turmeric to enhance its qualities.

Additional Information:

The Chinese have some very strange beliefs in food nutrition to nurture good health. Take the red date tea, all ingredients are “tonics” believed to have their different functions for maintaining strong health, but in general the Chinese believe that they help strengthening one’s Chi and make the blood circulation better.

The red date tea brings back a lot of memories. It is the drink in China that goes along with eating Chinese dumplings during Chinese New Year’s celebration. I recalled with fond memories that I would always get a cup of red date tea, when we visited my great grandmother from my father’s side of the family in Cluny Road near the Botanical Gardens in Singapore during the first day of Chinese New Year. That was the only time that I get to taste red date tea – once a year, as red date tea is considered an expensive Chinese tonic drink, beyond the means of my family.

My mum visited me in Copenhagen when I gave birth to our son, J, 2 years ago and she brewed lots of red date tea for me. The red date tea is the MUST drink for Chinese women who have just given birth during the confinement month.

Sometimes it is hard to believe whether all these traditional beliefs are true or not. But I do really love all these food and tea, so it doesn’t really matter to me whether they are true or not. However, a recent article in a Danish newspaper called “Søndags Avisen” reported last Sunday that Japan (82 years old), Singapore (82 years old) and China (73 years old) have the world’s top 3 highest life expectancy rates. So, there must be some truth in the Chinese traditional beliefs.

Generally, most developing countries have one of the lowest life expectancy rates, but China is an exception. Japan has long been known to be a country with the most number of centurions. It is surprising to see that Singapore is catching up with Japan in life expectancy rate, given the vast number of food courts in Singapore serving increasingly saltier, sweeter and oilier food, in order to compete for the consumer's dollar.


Picture: Top plate: Red dates and honey Date. Bottom plate: Longans, goji berries and dan shen

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