Of all the herbal tonics in China, none is as well known as the medicinal tea called the Eight Treasures Tea (Ba Bao Cha), the base of which was created during the Tang Dynasty. However, it wasn’t until Li Shizhen changed some of the ingredients and added a few more that it really became one of the most traditional tonics in Chinese history.
Eight Treasures Tea is popular in part because of its many health benefits. It is known as an elixir in China because it helps improve blood circulation, raise energy levels, boost the immune system, clear lightheadedness, aid liver function and breathing, help remove dark under-eye circles, hydrate dry skin, fight fatigue, and can help women maintain a regular menstrual cycle.
There are many different varieties of Eight Treasures Tea, with different recipes made in different dynasties, depending on the availability of ingredients. The more common ingredients according to Li are:
- Green tea: Jasmine green tea brings out a more floral flavor.
- Dried chrysanthemum flowers: 1-2 tbsp
- Goji berries: 4-6 berries
- Dried Chinese red dates: 2 fruits
- Dried Dragon Eye (Longan): 2 pieces
- Licorice root: 1-2 pieces
- American ginseng: 1-2 roots
- Dried fruit: You can use 1-4 pieces of apples, oranges, or raisins depending on size.
- Rock sugar
Li also mentioned you can add sesame seeds, lotus roots, peanuts, or walnuts. The portions are not set, so you can add more or less as desired.
This tea is ideal to make in a pot instead of just a cup because of all the ingredients. Combine all ingredients except the green tea in a pot, and pour enough boiling water over them to cover completely while leaving some room at the top of the pot.
Unlike tea, the longer it brews, the better, as the taste will be sweeter and more nutrients will come from the herbs, 5-10 min. After you think it is almost ready, in a separate cup, make the green tea as you would normally, a bit stronger than normal. After brewing, pour the tea (straining out the leaves) into the pot with the other ingredients. It is now ready to drink and serve.
Note: If pregnant, please consult your doctor before using the ingredients listed above.