The health benefits of dates have been well-known in China for thousands of years, They are believed to cleanse and enrich the blood, enhance immunity, promote white cell formation, reduce cholesterol and protect the liver, among many other supposed gains. Dates are rich in vitamin C, calcium and iron and are believed to be therapeutic for the elderly as well as growing children and those with anemia. Red dates (hong zao in Chinese) are also known as jujubes. For more on China’s “cure-all” fruit, click here.
I’ve been drinking red date (or jujube) tea since I was a child. It was something my mother would make for my sister and I to keep our little bodies strong. Growing up, I thought of this as some sort of magical mommy-creation. I had no idea how easy it was to make! Two ingredients: dates and water! Some like to add honey or sweetening agents, but it’s really not needed. Dates are naturally sweet!
I am dedicating this blog post to my grandmother, the most wonderful person I know, as I’ve been making this tea quite a bit more often for her in the recent months. She has fought a bad case of pneumonia in the hospital and I’ve been racking my brain thinking of ways to help her regain her strength. If you have any ideas, please do share them with me! And send happy thoughts her way! :)
Food is not always just food. There is real beauty in creating food out of love, or for someone you love. What better represents love than a hot cup of tea. I hope that you try and enjoy this! And that with each cup of warmth enjoyed, the love spreads just a little further.
Red Date (Hong Zao) Tea
This recipe makes a big pot, you can use about a handful of dates to make just a cup or two if you like.
Can also be chilled to make a wonderful iced tea. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days or add ice!
- Handful dried red dates (also called jujubes, Chinese dates, Korean dates, Indian dates)
- Water (about 2-3 cups)
*Use more or less dates or water to your own liking. I often use about 2 cups of dates in a medium sized pot of water. I store the remaining tea in the fridge and drink chilled or reheat to enjoy.
1. Add the water and dates to a pot and boil for at least 15 minutes.
2. Strain and enjoy. Or leave the dates in, if you prefer. They’re so pretty and red. :)
I love this tea, as plain and simple as it is. I’ve seen versions of red date tea with ginger or longan (another Chinese miracle-fruit) added. Get creative! (As I always say.)