Nourishing yet simple to make, Dried Longan Tea with Red Dates will warm you from inside out. It only needs 3 pantry ingredients and is a pretty flexible recipe- I add ginger and goji berries to make it healthier, but you can easily leave them out too!
Note: I'm not a medical professional so this post is for information only and not meant as health/ dietary/ nutritional advice!
Why Make This
- Longan Tea with Red Dates is good for you! It is so nourishing that many confinement diets (post-childbirth) in Singapore feature a ton of longan tea.
- Keeps you feeling toasty warm from inside out: the ingredients in this red date longan tea are all "warming" (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine) and, in moderation, nourishing!
- And is really easy to make: only 3-6 simple ingredients, a few minutes of prep and no special equipment required. Save the $13+ that longan tea sells for on Amazon and enjoy this sweet drink hot, cold or at room temperature. Goes well with Chinese herbal chicken soup too!
Ingredients & substitutes
This restorative and healthy dried longan red date tea calls for only a few ingredients:
- dried longans: literally "dragon's eye" or Long Yan in Chinese. Don't substitute with fresh if you want to make proper Chinese longan tea to help you relax. (Of course, if you're doing a fusion drink, feel free to as fresh longans are delicious. Remember to remove the peel and pit first!)
- dried Chinese red dates, also known as jujubes: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the seed of jujubes are heaty, so we remove them before cooking. This also makes it easier to eat the jujubes later, and reduces the number that you need (as there is more surface area of the dates exposed to the water.)
- sweetener (optional, to taste): longans and red dates are naturally sweet so the tea doesn't really need extra sugar. However, if you have a sweeter tooth, add rock sugar (traditional), fine brown sugar, homemade osmanthus sugar or even white sugar
- optional ingredients: I like to add goji berries (also known as wolfberries) and ginger to my longan red date tea. Some people add dried tangerine, which is expensive and difficult to get outside of Asia, so I've left it out of this recipe. In South East Asia, pandan is a very common plant, so people sometimes add it though it's not a traditional ingredient.
Quantity of ingredients
As you can see, this red date longan tea is super flexible- you can make pure longan tea with just dried longans, jujube tea with just jujubes, goji berry tea with just gojiberries etc. Feel free to experiment to suit your taste- the quantities I give are just a guide!
The only exception is the ginger: the more ginger you add, the longer you steep the tea and the higher a temperature you steep at, the "spicier" the tea will taste.
Most people won't enjoy overly spicy tea, so I would recommend being cautious with your use of ginger. (Personally, I wouldn't leave the ginger out, as it helps to balance the sweetness of the red dates, goji berries and dried longans.)
Where to Buy
Note: this is for information only and not meant as medical, nutrition or health advice. Please consult a medical professional.
Longans- the fruits and the flowers- have long been used in TCM for its health properties e.g. to promote sleep. Research has provided support for longan's nutritive value and even called it a "superfruit."
Longans have functional metabolites such as polysaccharides, flavonoids, alkaloids and carotenoids. These have medicinal, anticancer and anti-aging benefits.
The fruit contains a lot of Vitamins A and C, as well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Chinese Red Dates
TCM believes that it replenishes the blood and improves blood circulation as well as liver and digestive function. Research has shown that jujubes have anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperlipidemic, anti-hyperglycemic, immunoregulatory, neuroprotective, sedative, and antiviral properties.
For more info on jujube's health benefits, click here.
Warming vs cooling foods
In TCM, food can be "warming" (yang), "cooling" (yin) or "neutral." it's important to keep your diet in balance, if not you'll fall sick. (This also depends on your consitution- some people need more "heaty" food and others more "cooling" ones.)
"Cooling" foods would be stuff like green beans and pears. Sadly, most delicious foods are warming and heaty when taken in excess, leading to sore throats, fever, zits... Examples include chocolate, potato chips, whiskey, brandy, fried foods, durian, mangoes, osmanthus etc.
Trivia: Anyone who's grown up in South East Asia will know that you're not supposed to drink alcohol when you eat durian, because they're both very "heaty" foods- scoff if you like, but someone has actually passed away after doing so. Of course, correlation is not causation but better safe than sorry!
- Rinse the ingredients.
- Remove the jujube pits: 3 snips around the pit, 2 snips on the top and bottom of the seed, and you'll have de-seeded your Chinese red date! (See A. to D. in the photo)
Note: some people like to soak the dried ingredients before using, but I find they rehydrate enough when boiling so I skip this step.
3. Place the ingredients and 4 Cups of water in a pot and bring it to the boil.
4. Reduce to a simmer, and steep for 20 minutes till the tea is a rich brown. (I used a heat of 4-5 on a Bosch induction cooker with a maximum of 9.)
5. To serve, ladle some tea as well as some longans, red dates and goji berries into each cup. They'll be a bit tasteless as the flavor has gone into the tea, but they're still full of fibre! (The ginger can be tossed- it's too fibrous to chew!)
Tip #2: If you're drinking from a Chinese tea cup (which is small), I'd add 3 goji berries and 1 longan or 1 red date slice to the tea maximum. More than that and there'll be more fruit than liquid in your longan red date tea! (For a Western mug, you can add more.)
Tip #3: If you're concerned about the heatiness of this Chinese herbal tea, you can reduce the number of longans. (Add some sugar as the tea will now be less sweet.)
Tip #4: This longan drink tastes good hot or chilled, so feel free to make a huge batch and store the extra in the fridge for up to 2 days.
It's entirely up to your tastebuds but I usually bring the longan red date tea to the boil then simmer for at least 25 minutes. Almost immediately after adding all the ingredients to the pot, the tea turns amber in color (from the dried longans.) However, don't be deceived as it's still pretty tasteless! I tried simmering the tea for 1, 10, 20 and 25 minutes and everyone unanimously preferred the 25-minute version.
Not unless you add other tea leaves to it! I love tea but it can interrupt the sleep cycle, so I love no caffeine teas such as longan tea.
Other teas with no caffeine include golden osmanthus flower tea (gui hua cha), Korean plum tea (maesil cha) and barley tea. For a tea that has a pick me up effect but not too much caffeine, try Hojicha Milk Latte.
Other Traditional Chinese Recipes
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Longan Tea with Red Dates
- Knife and cutting board or kitchen scissors
- ¼ Cup dried longans about 50-60g
- ½ Cup Chinese Red dates Also known as jujubes. About 6-8 pieces, cut into strips, seeds removed, I find it easiest to use a kitchen scissors to snip off the flesh but you can use a knife if you prefer (See post above for directions if you are not sure how to remove the seed.)
- ⅛ Cup Goji berries also known as wolfberries, about 15g
- 1 Thumb sized ginger washed and cut/ sliced, skin can be left on
- 4 C water 1 litre
- Rock sugar Optional: to taste. Can substitute with brown sugar and other sweeteners if you don't find this sweet enough, but please taste first as most of the ingredients have a natural sweetness!
- Pine nuts, lightly toasted Optional garnish
- Rinse all the ingredients- you never know where they were sitting whilst drying!
- Add everything to the pot and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, reduce to a simmer (I used 4-5 on a Bosch induction cooker) and simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or to taste.
- Taste and, if necessary, add brown sugar (or substitute) and stir till dissolved.
- Serve with a few goji berries, a longan and some red date slices in each cup.
- Optional garnish: lightly toasted pine nuts go well with the tea too.
Note: the nutritional information is an estimate automatically calculated using the WPRM recipe maker and I am not responsible for its veracity.
If you've made this dried longan red date tea with ginger and wolf berries, do tag me on social media! (@greedygirlgourmet)!