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Improve vitality with Chinese herbal teas

Most of the time when we think of herbal tea, the first things that come to mind are chamomile tea or a simple peppermint tea. In Asia, herbal teas take on quite another meaning. Herbal teas are often serious medicine, prescribed by medical practitioners or used as part of an intensive home-remedy program for the prevention and/or treatment of everything from colds and headaches to indigestion and arthritis.

The American Journal of Chinese Medicine recently published an article by one of the world's authorities of Chinese herbs, Dr. S. Y. Hu, an 89-year old Harvard University botanist of Chinese descent. Dr. Hu divides all tea into two major types (1) ready-made refreshment teas, known as liangcha and (2) medicated tea, packed in boxes or bags.

  1. Liangcha tea has been proved from research conducted in the 1930s to prevent contagious diseases in Southern China. Two well-known brands of liangcha are available in American Chinese stores: (a) Wong Lo Kat and (b) Er-shi-si-wei.
  2. Medicated teas are sold in pre-parceled amounts. They are stronger and very bitter, and are used for improving vitality and preventing illness. Dr. Hu includes among these (a) Panacea Harmonizing Tea (b) Ho Yan Hor (c) Kanlu Tea and (c) Five Flowers Tea.

From a scientific point of view, until recently there was no definitive work on the botanical sources of Chinese medical teas. Thanks to the American Journal of Chinese Medicine and researchers like Dr. Hu that is quickly changing.

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