How to cook Chinese herbal tea
Cooking raw Chinese herbs do not have to be complicated. Many herbs are "food grade" and can be found in an Asian market. They can easily be mixed and matched, and adjusted to your taste. Check out our tea book for more reference to some common recipe combinations: Chinese Herbal Tea: simple recipes for everyday wellness.
To cook herbal tea, the simple way is to slice or chop them and pour hot water over your formula in a French press or a teapot for a few minutes. You can also cook on a stove top to extract more nutrients from the herbs because of the higher heat and longer cooking time. After initial boiling of water, bring the heat down to a slow simmer for 15 to 30 minutes depending on the herbs and the strength of the tea you like. For lighter herbs like flower or leaves, steeping as tea is a good choice. For heavier herbs like root or branch, cook on a stovetop is better.
In Chinese medicine, there is an old method saying you should cook until the water is reduced to 1/3. Drain the liquid as the first pot of tea, then cook again with the same herb for the second pot of tea. You can mix them both and drink one half (1 cup) in the morning and the other half (1 cup) in the evening. That is just a general rule for cooking Chinese herbal medicine. For home cooking as food therapy, it does not have to follow exactly. Because of the evaporation of water in the cooking process, make sure you have enough water to cover the herbs plus an inch or two, to begin with.
How to cook Ginseng ( Ren Shen )
Below is our video demonstrating some ways of cooking Chinese herbal formulas, including cooking a Ginseng root. To cook Ginseng, you can steam it separately and then thinly slice it. Then you can add them easily to soup, tea, or meal. One easy way is to add Ginseng to an electric rice cooker and cook together with rice. It will flavor the rice and soften the Ginseng root at the same time. So nothing is wasted.
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