Not too long ago I went to a Chinese Dim-Sum restaurant and had this “calming” tea made out of flowers that completely blew my mind. As I was drinking it I felt a very pleasant warm-hug feeling rush through my spine, and my whole body felt very at ease and soft. I soon discovered that it all had to do with the magic of the main ingredient in the tea: Chrysanthemum flowers.
The next day I rushed to Chinatown to my favorite Chinese herb spot, Sun’s Organic Garden, to ask about this flower tea and all its benefits. Stay with me to hear what I learned..
First of all, chrysanthemum tea is a herbal tea (caffeine free) that has been used for hundreds of years in Chinese medicine. In China each flower has a symbolic representation, and chrysanthemum flowers stand for respect and honesty. Chrysanthemums are also known as autumn flowers because they remain alive during the fall and winter; a time when the other flowers wilt and die. They are very resistant to the cold, which means that drinking chrysanthemum flower tea is the best thing you can do when it’s cold because it will give you its winter thriving capacities! It’s used mainly to treat respiratory problems (it strengthens the lungs) and high blood pressure (lowers blood pressure), and is also very good for reducing inflammation in the body and calming your nerves.
Even though colds and fevers are caused by cold conditions (cold weather), according to Chinese Medicine, a cold is actually a condition of excess heat in the body. Exterior cold turns into heat and settles in the body in one of the organs: stomach, lung or intestines producing symptoms such as high fever, sweating and thirst. Chrysanthemum tea is a natural coolant that helps lower body temperature and balance excess heat in the body. It helps treat signs of other excess heat imbalances like: thirst, red face, red eyes, constipation, fever, pimples, acne, red skin rashes, urticaria, any burning sensations in the stomach or in the urine, and extreme mental nervous restlessness (heat in the heart). Common causes of EXCESS heat in the body are:
- Too much hot-energy food (will talk about hot energy food in another post)
- Long term emotional distress (stagnation of energy which causes Liver or Heart Heat)
- Excess of Yang/ masculine/ contractive energy in body. (becoming too uptight and rigid in our ways)
This tea physically and metaphorically teaches us to chill out, to calm down, and to take moments in the day to just sip and breathe. Try it out! (Maybe it can start to replace your cigarette break 🙂 )
According to Chinese medicine, chrysanthemum tea calms down the nerves, but also makes you feel more alert. It encourages you to cultivate a special kind of alertness; one that is clear and focused, yet also relaxed.
Therefore, we can say that Chrysanthemum is the cool honest tea!
- Chrysanthemum flowers are packed with antioxidants, specifically Vitamin C, which helps alleviate the heavy-head feeling and congestion you get when you have a cold. It also has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and prevents bacterial infections in the body.
- Improves skin tone and texture: There are high amounts of beta-carotene present in the yellow part of the flower. This nutrient is very helpful in treating skin problems and increasing immune power. Beta-carotene ignites a healthy glow that begins on the inside and zaps aging by acting as an antioxidant (substance that reduces oxygen damage caused by UV light, pollutions and other environmental hazards like smoking). Skin tone is a sign of health, and it reflects your diet and environment; chrysanthemum tea enhances both skin color and texture, bestowing a healthful luminescence.
- Purifies the blood: Helps remove toxins from the blood, improves blood flow and stimulates circulation.
- Treats insomnia: Chrysanthemum tea helps you go into deep sleep!
- Serves as a digestive aid: When taken with meals, it really helps digestion, especially the breakdown of protein and fats. So it’s especially good if you drink it after having a heavy meal.
- Strengthens the lungs and helps in relieving respiratory problems such as shortness of breath. Also relieves sore throat (good for smokers).
- Detoxifying: These flowers are really powerful and effective at cleansing and detoxifying the liver. So yes, good for hangovers!
- Good for the eyes: Drinking this tea also eliminates redness, itchiness, and dryness in the eyes.
The eyes are nourished by the essence of all five organ networks, and thus differentiated into five organ specific zones which may reveal important diagnostic information. The eyes as a whole, however, represent the opening of the liver, and are thus considered to be more closely linked to the liver than to any of the other organ networks. “Liver qi (energy) communicates with the eyes,” states the Neijing, “and if the liver functions harmoniously, the eyes can differentiate the five essential colors….If the liver receives blood, we can see. The liver channel branches out to the eyes. Both liver qi and liver blood flood the eyes to maintain proper eyesight. A person’s eyesight may therefore also serve as an indicator for liver function.
You can easily make this tea simply adding 3-6 dried flowers to 8 oz of hot water (1 cup) and letting it steep for 5 minutes, and voila!
If you want to make the blend that I made in the photo (and the one I tried at the restaurant) which is the traditional way this tea is made, then add:
- dried ginger
- dried licorice root
- jujube (chinese red date)
- green tea (for a caffeine kick!)
- and of course, the chrysanthemum flowers
I really recommend this spot in Chinatown to buy your chinese herbs and flowers! Sun’s Organic Garden.
PHOTOS BY: Sandra Arenas