Chrysanthemum tea is one of my favorite teas from my childhood while I was growing up in Hong Kong. Whenever the weather got hot (in Hong Kong that was usually from April until October), chrysanthemum tea was a constant in the household. I was also given copious amounts of this tea to drink whenever we ate too much deep-fried foods, mangos, pineapples, spicy foods, etc. As a child, I just understood this as the Cantonese way. Never questioned it. After moving back to New York, chrysanthemum tea became a treat, not that it was hard to find in New York, I’m not really sure why we made less of it…
In the past few years, as allergies have worsened for many people, including myself – I find myself revisiting my childhood favorite again. Fed up with over-the-counter allergy medications not working as effectively as I would’ve liked, I sought relief through traditional chinese medicine (TCM) – specifically, acupuncture. Long story short, I was a skeptic and deadly afraid of needles but I became a believer. In addition to acupuncture treatments, TCM practitioners also believe in healing your body by adjusting your diet. We are not talking about avoiding animal fats, carbs, etc. TCM practitioners view certain foods as having “hot” qualities while others as having “cool” qualities. The idea is that the body internally has natural “hot”-ness and “cool”-ness and the imbalance of such leaves one more susceptible to disease or illness. The goal is to keep the body in balance. For more information on TCM, acupuncture and food therapy, I find that Wikipedia is a great source for introductory knowledge.
This is where chrysanthemum tea comes in. Chrysanthemum tea is a flower-based herbal tea made from chrysanthemum flowers. There are a variety of health benefits related to this tea and it is super tasty to drink.
Some of the health benefits that I have experienced are:
It is a natural coolant and helps to lower body temperature – hence, a must during Hong Kong’s warm months
Helpful in treating acne – according to TCM, excessive acne is thought to be caused by too much “heat” in the body and chrysanthemum tea is a “cool” food which will help balance the body
Provides relief for sore throat – again, sore throat is considered to be caused by too much “heat”
The main reason why I drink it now is that it relieves some of my allergy symptoms, specifically, itchy dry eyes. Chrysanthemum tea is considered to be very good for relieving itchiness and dryness in eyes caused by excess “heat”
This tea is also very easy to make, seep the dried chrysanthemum flowers in hot water for 3-4 minutes and add rock sugar to taste, that’s it! Simple! (Use 6-8 dried flowers for each cup)
Even if you don’t believe in TCM, this caffeine-free tea is delicious in its own right. It has light floral notes that is not overwhelming and sweetened with rock sugar to taste, it is one of the most refreshing summer teas I can think of.