Teas and tisanes made from chrysanthemum flower have an interesting mix of sweetness and bitterness that soothe our thirst. Chrysanthemum beverages are consumed on a regular basis year round by the Chinese, but it is most popular during the summer because of its cooling and detoxifying properties.
As with Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine that popularized using Forskolin for weight loss, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) tells us that the general properties of food may be determined by its taste to the palate. For example, bitter taste usually indicates that the food has a “cooling” effect on the human body, while sour food is “warming.”
As mentioned, chrysanthemum flower is slightly bitter, and so it has a cooling effect on the body. According to TCM texts, the flower, when consumed, can help to dispel troubling wind (or energy) and to scatter excessive heat accumulated in the body. The Chinese believe that excessive heat in the body can lead to inflammatory problems such as ulcers, acne, hair loss, tension headache and higher blood pressure.
In the Shen Nong Herbal Compendium, it is said that white chrysanthemum flower tea is beneficial to the eyes, skin, and liver. So if your eyes are strained by staring for hours at electronic devices and your skin is dry from exposure to the harsh weather, it may be a good time to have some chrysanthemum tisane. The Compendium also mentions that sore muscles, swelling, sore throat, and fever may be alleviated by drinking chrysanthemum tisane at the onset of the symptoms.
You should be able to get dried chrysanthemum flowers in good Chinese grocers. They do vary slightly in grade, as with all herbs but should not pinch your pocket.
Pure chrysanthemum tisane
This is the purest form of chrysanthemum tisane. It is easy to prepare and great to drink.
- Pour a liter of spring water into a medium-sized pot and bring the water to boil.
- Turn down the heat and add a cup (250ml) of dried chrysanthemum flowers into the water and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Depending on the quality of dried flower you purchased, the strength of the tisane may vary. If the tisane is too mild for your liking, you can always add more and simmer again for another five minutes. However, remember that chrysanthemum flower is slightly bitter to the taste buds, so add a small quantity at a time and until you find your preferred taste.
- Once you are satisfied with the strength of your tisane, turn off the heat and let the tisane cool.
Chrysanthemum and honey
The honey will enrich the anti-inflammatory effect of the chrysanthemum flower.
- Follow the above steps from one to four.
- Sweeten the tisane with a tablespoon of mild honey while it is still warm.
Chrysanthemum and wolfberry (also commonly called “goji berry”)
Chrysanthemum and wolfberry are perfect partners in the tisane. They are both beneficial for the eyes, skin, liver, and the immune system. As you will find out if you try this recipe, their taste complements each other.
Again, this ingredient may be obtained in good Chinese grocers. They are sometimes referred to as Lycium chinense.
- To prepare this beverage, simply follow the above recipe and add one tablespoon of wolfberry into the water along with the flowers.
- If preferred, sweeten the beverage with mild honey to taste.
All the beverages above may be served warm or cold. However, if you choose to serve them cold, refrigerate it instead of adding ice-cubes, which is considered detrimental to health in the TCM point of view.
Wiseman, N. & Ellis, A., Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine, Paradigm Publications, 1996.
Li Shizhen & Luo Xiwen, Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica), Foreign Languages Press, 2003.