Sometimes called mums or chrysanths, are flowering plants of the genus Chrysanthemum in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Asia and northeastern Europe. Most species originate from East Asia and the center of diversity is in China. There are about 40 valid species. There are countless horticultural varieties and cultivars.
Yellow or white chrysanthemum flowers of the species C. morifolium are boiled to make a sweet drink in some parts of Asia. The resulting beverage is known simply as chrysanthemum tea , pinyin: júhuā chá, in Chinese). In Korea, a rice wine flavored with chrysanthemum flowers is called gukhwaju .
Chrysanthemum leaves are steamed or boiled and used as greens, especially in Chinese cuisine. The flowers may be added to thick snakemeat soup to enhance the aroma. Small chrysanthemums are used in Japan as a sashimi garnish
Chrysanthemum plants have been shown to reduce indoor air pollution by the NASA Clean Air Study.
Chrysanthemum tea has many purported medicinal uses, including an aid in recovery from influenza, acne and as a "cooling" herb. According to traditional Chinese medicine the tea can aid in the prevention of sore throat and promote the reduction of fever. In Korea, it is known well for its medicinal use for making people more alert and is often used as a pick-me-up to render the drinker more awake. In western herbal medicine, Chrysanthemum tea is drunk or used as a compress to treat circulatory disorders such as varicose veins andatherosclerosis.
In traditional Chinese medicine, chrysanthemum tea is also said to clear the liver and the eyes. It is believed to be effective in treating eye pain associated with stress or yin/fluid deficiency. It is also used to treat blurring, spots in front of the eyes, diminished vision, and dizziness. The liver is associated with the element Wood which rules the eyes and is associated with anger, stress, and related emotions. No scientific studies have substantiated these claims yet.
Chrysanthemum tea is made from chrysanthemum flowers, belonging to the Chrysanthemum morifolium or Chrysanthemum indicum species, which is extremely popular in East Asia, specifically China. Chrysanthemum flowers are usually dried and boiled in hot water in a teapot, cup or glass, to prepare this tea. Rock sugar or honey is also added to chrysanthemum tea and occasionally, wolfberries are included. The tea that is prepared is transparent and can be bright yellow or pale in color, exuding a floral aroma. In China, after a pot of chrysanthemum tea is emptied, hot water is again added to the flowers. This produces a tea that is less strong than the previous one. The process is repeated several times, until the flowers lose their aroma completely. Traditional Chinese medicine practices still use chrysanthemum tisane for treating conditions such as sore throat and fever.
Nutrition & Health Benefits of Chrysanthemum Tea
Chrysanthemum tea detoxifies the blood, helps with sinus congestion and regulates high blood pressure. It can also help to calm the nerves.
Modern researches on the tea have established that it contains choline, vitamin A, vitamin B1, glycosides, adenine, amino acids, flavonoid, volatile oil, and other nutrients.
Chrysanthemum tea restrains the growth of bacteria in the body, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus hemolyticus B, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella dysenteriae, tubercle bacillus and dermatomycosis.
The Chinese medicine prescribes this tea for relief against influenza and it is also used in treating heatstroke, due to its cooling effect.
When chrysanthemum tea is drunk with meals, it facilitates digestion, more so of greasy and oily foods. The tea is also consumed to strengthen the lungs and relieve head congestion.
The tea is also believed to improve vision and hearing. It can be safely recommended for obese people, as it contains zero calories, when consumed without adding sugar or honey. It also doesn’t contain any caffeine.
Some individuals can experience an adverse reaction on consuming chrysanthemum and even handling chrysanthemum flowers. Mild skin irritation may result on physical handling and mild to moderate stomach upset can be experienced on consumption. Though most people do not suffer from any adverse reactions from chrysanthemum tea, it is advisable to consult a doctor before its consumption, as some herbal solutions can interact with other prescribed medications.
Chrysanthemum tea is a 'cooling' herbal beverage that has been consumed by the Chinese since the Song Dynasty. Traditionally, it's used to help treat conditions caused by 'excessive heat' in the body, such as sore throat (in traditional Chinese medicine, they have a hot/cold theory). These days, this tea can be found in popper form, bottled, or canned, in most Asian grocery stores. However, these mostly contain sugar and water, so, although they may taste good, they are unlikely to impart any health benefits. It's not hard to make your own, and I personally much prefer a homemade infusion. You can buy packets of dried chrysanthemum for this from most Asian grocery stores and at traditional Chinese medicinal stores. If you have fresh white chrysanthemums that you want to use instead, great, but take note that there are quite a few different species of this flower, and not all are for culinary use. Wikipedia tells me it's the C. morifolium species that is used, but I'd look into the references, if you're planning to go down this route.
Just like how you would brew normal tea, simply bring some water to the boil; take off the heat; add some dried white chrysanthemum flowers; and allow to steep. Sweeten with golden rock sugar, according to taste preferences, and sieve before serving. You can do this in a teapot, in a cup, or in a small saucepan, if making a larger quantity, like what I did. This tea can be served hot or chilled. I generally prefer the latter, but it's nice to have it hot when the weather is cool.
In the infusion pictured above, I actually also added a bit of dried Japanese honeysuckle flowers, which is another flower with 'cooling' properties. This can also be sourced from the abovementioned shops.
50g dried chrysanthemum flowers
1.5 litre water
50g rock sugar (adjust to taste)
1. In a pot, bring water to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, add chrysanthemum. Simmer for a minute or two (do not simmer for too long). Add rock sugar to taste and turn off the stove when the sugar has dissolved. Serve the drink at room temperature or chilled.
2. Take out the chrysanthemum flowers andsieve the liquid through a strainer. Drink chilled or at room temperature.
1. Add 10g licorice (liquorice) roots (aka gan zao) or about 8 pieces in step 1. Read about its health benefits below, but skip this if you are pregnant or have high-blood pressure.
1. You can also add 1 tsp of wolfberries (soaked in water till puffy first) if desired.
2. There are a type of chrysanthemum flowers which do not require boiling; simply place the ingredients in a cup/tea pot, pour boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes. However, I prefer to bring the ingredients to a brief simmer to let the flavours seep in.
3. If you do not want to use a strainer, you can put the chrysanthemum flowers in disposable soup pouches and discard the entire pouch after simmering.