3 Tea Recipes for the Festive Season

Jujube Minhong with Wolfberry tea

Minhong black tea prepared with jujube water, topped with wolfberries

As winter sets in, seasonal festivals offer us opportunities for rounds of parties, gatherings and reunions. To some, it is busy preparations, to others, it is opportunities for a little bit of indulgences. Tea is not only easy to serve and a lighter alternative to entertain, it is also the antidote for overdoses of fats, carbohydrates, ( well, food ) and, with some other ingredients, alcohols as well.

I have developed three recipes for you here that are not only great for entertaining, but also good health companions through the ups and downs of the festivals. I have designed each with specific character and purpose.

The 3 recipes are:

Almond Cream Longjing — a satisfying tea for the warmth of cream and sugar, but balanced with a green tea.

Jujube Minhong — a great tasting digestive and a supplement for those with cold hands and feet. A push for the Qi, in another word. A suitable tea even for the folks “down-under” in the southern hemisphere in their summer right now, because of its clean, crisp gastronomic quality.

Ginger Wuyi Shuixian — modified from a traditional recipe, it is a quick fix for indigestion, hangover and colds and flu.

Almond Cream Longjing

What you need to make two large cups of the drink:

  • Non-sweetened almond powder: 2 flat tablespoons
  • Longjing green tea: 8 ~ 10 grams
  • Full cream milk, half & half, or cream: 5 tablespoons (2 if cream), or to your person preference
  • 85°C water for brewing: 500 ml (or roughly two large cups) and more for warming teapots and cups etc
  • Brown sugar: to your personal preference
  • Two teapots
  • Two cups
Almond Powder

Packaged almond powder for drinking and cooking. Made from Chinese almonds that are more pungent and sharper in taste. This is a popular Taiwanese brand.

This recipe is inspired by a very old tea drinking style, much older than the history of Longjing, when much coarser tasting green tea was produced for the folks. There was no almond powder or granulated sugar either. People put all the raw ingredients in a mortar, that included the rough tealeaves, the whole almonds, and the sugar lumps, and any other grains, condiments or spices, and ground them into a rough powder before adding hot water to whisk them into a lime green tea soup. I did that a few times myself and think it is a bit too unrefined for the modern tongue.

You can simply stir powdered green tea, such as a matcha, with almond powder in hot water for the purpose, like some tea drink vendors do in Taiwan. This is convenient when you have to prepare for a large crowd. However, if you would like the taste finer and more special for a cozier time, here is my way of doing it:

  1. Pre-warm one of the teapots
  2. Put in the tealeaves and then about 430 ml (a tad less than two cups) of the hot water to infuse the tea for 5~6 minutes. Now you may notice that I am recommending a higher temperature than the guideline in the measurement guide. That is because I want the tea a bit sharper to balance the strong tastes of the other ingredients. You may want to go as high up as 90°C if you want more tea taste
  3. In the other pot, put in the almond powder and 70 ml of hot water to stir into a smooth paste
  4. When the Longjing is infused, decant into the pot with the almond paste and stir slowly to homogenize
  5. Serve in large pre-warmed cups with the cream and sugar

Jujube Minhong Black Tea

What you need to make two large cups of the drink:

  • Dried jujubes: 6~8
  • Minhong tealeaves (such as a Xiaozhong or Bailin Gongfu): 4~5 grams
  • Raw sugar: one heaped tablespoonful, or to your preference, optional
  • Dried wolfberries: 16, or to your preference, optional
  • Fresh ginger root: a small slice, optional
  • Water 650 ml
  • A small deep saucepan with cover
  • A strainer
  • A prewarmed teapot
  • Two large prewarmed cups
  • Two teaspoons

Jujube is a staple ingredient in the Chinese kitchen and a basic TCM herbal

This is a great tea for those who have cold hands and feet and for women after period. Good also for those with poor digestion.

Both jujubes and wolfberries are available as fresh fruits nowadays but they are not to be used in this recipe. The dried form should be used for both the taste and the salutary TCM values. They are available in traditional Chinese herbal shops and health food stores. Some cities have them even in markets and grocery stores.

I used to get (without my mom’s notice) dried jujubes for a snack from the wooden cabinet where my mom stored all her dried ingredients. Called red dates by some, these dried fruit is a great ingredient for a great array of Chinese dishes, desserts and soups. Remove the pits if you have an overtly “hot” TCM composition.

Dried wolfberries are used for supplementing a person’s yin foundation in TCM formulae, and some think it boosts libido for both male and female. It is great for all time use in dishes, desserts and soups, even as a snack after marinating with rum or sherry. Refrain from the temptation of having too much all of a sudden though. An unbalanced dietary intake of anything is bad.

  1. Crush the jujubes with the side of a kitchen knife ( and take out the pits, if you want ) before putting them into the saucepan
  2. Add water (and the ginger slice, if you want) to the pan and bring to a boil, covered
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 ~ 30 minutes
  4. Turn off the fire and add the sugar. If you are using a compressed raw sugar slab (use at most half a slab if you are making two cups), add the sugar about 5 minutes earlier before turning off; the slab needs time to dissolve. Make sure you are using real raw sugar and not refined sugar coloured with molasses ( that most people called brown sugar ). If you do not want the strong cane sugar taste in the tea, use rock sugar instead
  5. In the prewarmed teapot, put in the tealeaves. A good Minhong is recommended because they are found to be lower in caffeine than other black tea. This is important because some people like to have this jujube recipe in the late evening or even before bed. The taste also marries better with jujube
  6. Strain the jujube water into the teapot, then cover and steep for at least 6 minutes
  7. Add the wolfberries into the prewarmed cups (optional)
  8. Decant the tea into the cups and serve with a couple of the boiled jujubes in the cup

Ginger Wuyi Shuixian

Raw Sugars

Raw sugar, also called Muscovado sugar, is seen here in granulated form and slab form

What you need to make two large cups of the drink:

  • Fresh ginger root slices, about 1 mm thick: 8~10 large slices (30 g/1 oz), more if you can tolerate the spicy hot taste or if you have a cold or flu
  • Wuyi Shuixian tealeaves: 5 grams
  • Raw sugar: 2~3 heaped tablespoonfuls
  • Green onion: two whole stalks, optional ( for those with a cold or flu )
  • A small deep saucepan with cover
  • A strainer
  • A prewarmed teapot
  • Two large prewarmed cups
  • Water 500 ml

This is developed from a traditional recipe for hangover and colds and flus. Some use salt instead of sugar for the latter ailment. It is a great digestive when prepared with lesser sugar. More sugar is more effective for hangover. Do not use a fine Shuixian though, this strong tasting recipe spoils the tastes of fine teas.

The traditional style Wuyi oolong variety is needed for its TCM quality, so do not use other tea as substitute. The only exception may be deeper baked Phoenix oolongs, but I do not yet have extensive customer feedback from their experience for this one, so I can say only maybe; it works for me.

  1. Put water into the pan and then the ginger slices
  2. Bring to a boil. Add sugar now if you are using the compressed form slab sugar. You may also skip sugar if you want to use salt later. Let simmer for 3 minutes. If you do not slice the ginger thin enough, simmer longer to compensate
  3. Turn off the fire to let stand for one minute or so. If you use this for colds or flu, julienne the green onion and add them immediate before turning off the fire. Please note that the white of the onion needs to be stripped so the contents infuse into the water readily
  4. Meanwhile, put the tealeaves into the prewarmed teapot. Decant the ginger water into the pot and let steep for 5 minutes
  5. Serve in prewarmed teacups with the raw sugar, if you have not add the compressed form in the simmer. Or salt if you use this recipe for easing colds and flu. However, some people find the sweet one is effective also for colds. You may also substitute the green onion with lemon slices

Now, before you rush out to get the ingredients, prepare a cup of any fine tea to sip it straight for all its great taste, and benefits of digestion, fat-metabolism, detoxification, and maybe most importantly, tranquility. Remind yourself more often of that during this busy season.


2 Responses

  1. Tea Guardian says:

    Will definitely write more about other tea and herbal combinations. However, ginseng is definitely not to be added in tea ( Camellia sinensis ), as we have mentioned at the forums.

  2. Frank says:

    Nice change of pace. Can you suggest other combinations with teas and herbals ? Chrysanthemum, rosebud, osmanthus, tangerine peel, honeysuckle, ginseng ? Pu Er, White tea ? Or perhaps a reference to TCM “affinities” for traditionnal herbs and teas ?

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