chrysanthemum

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A couple of years ago I posted this about Chrysanthemum tea. I wanted to revisit the topic, as I have been seeing so many patients lately suffering from Spring allergies which are causing itchy, watery, sometimes burning eyes. Chrysanthemum is the perfect herb for this symptom. It clears windheat (itching, burning) and enters the Liver channel, directly affecting the eyes which are ruled by the Liver. It is also useful for headaches caused by allergies. To brew a medicinal-strength infusion of the herb, put a handful of the dried flowers in a mug with about 8 oz hot water. Steep, covered, for a minimum of 10 minutes, preferably 15. This tea will be bitter and adding honey is fine. Another option is to infuse a larger pot of the flowers, then let cool and put in the fridge. Enjoy as a cold tea on warm spring days when allergies are in full effect.

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When the temperatures drop and the air gets crisp and Uwajimaya has it’s annual 15%-off-everything-sale, we have hotpot. I’ve written about this before, but I thought it would be nice to do so again, since it is such an autumn tradition for us. We pull out the Danube (Japanese clay pot) and our table-top cook stove. We get meat cut very thin by the talented butchers at Uwa who do it specifically for this and for the related dish, Sukiyaki. We pull together veggies, usually Napa cabbage, chrysanthemum leaves (sweet and delish!), several varieties of mushrooms (especially shitaki, enoki, maitake and oyster) carrots, tofu and daikon. Adding rice noodles is a nice touch, especially loved by kids. The broth is a simple 2 hour infusion with kombu, or sea kelp. The dried noodles soak for about an hour to soften them. Everything is put into the broth to quickly cook similar to a Swiss meat/veggie fondu. We prefer to make Japanese-style hotpots, which use broth and are a bit lighter than the Chinese versions which use oil in the cooking pot. Veggies, noodles and meat can be taken from the pot and put into each bowl and individuals can add as little or much garlic-chili paste and shredded daikon as desired. My daughters add none, I add enough to get a medium heat, and my husband makes his pretty hot. It was delicious and fun as usual. As you can see from the photo, this meal is a big hit with my 3 year old!!!

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chrysanthemum-flowersChrysanthemum flowers, or Ju Hua in pin-yin, have a long history of use in Chinese Herbal Medicine as a beverage. The flowers are collected, dried, covered with boiling water, and then strained. The liquid is drunk as a light warm tea; alone or sometimes with sugar added.

The Taoists favored this tea the one to

promote longevity,

although to achieve this benefit the tea must be consumed daily over a long period of time.

There is a poem written by the eighteenth-century painter Zheng Ban-Qiao which reads:

 Tasting chrysanthemum tea of old – this flower of longevity!

A man of eighty years picks and sips, assiduous;

Teaching his frosty beard to turn raven black.


Chinese Herbalists consider the Ju Hua flower to be one that disperses wind and heat, calms the Liver and clears the eyes. It is used for treating the common cold and for any disorders related to Liver heat or Liver wind, such as blurry vision, spots before the eyes, dizziness, and headaches.

I find this beverage particularly useful for conditions in which there is a sudden onset of heat in the body, such as for hot flashes or excessive sweating. It is calming and cooling in the moment, and over time.

Chrysanthemum tea might be prescribed by your herbalist, but it is also a safe and tasty non-caffeinated drink for anyone to consume during the warm summer months.

The flowers can be bought in bulk and steeped in the traditional way, or a box of powdered chrysanthemum tea with sugar is sold in individual dosage packages.

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