4 Red Date Teas for Improving Health

Closeup of a woman's outstretched hands filled with red dates.

Chinese red dates (the edible fruits of Ziziphus jujuba, also commonly known as jujubes) are one of the most popular foods consumed for their health benefits in China. (Image: Lu Yao via Dreamstime)

Does your face look pasty when you look in the mirror? Do you have a hard time sleeping well at night, or have cold hands and feet in winter? Don’t worry; Chinese people often consume red dates and red date teas every day as a tonic to improve their health. 

What are red dates?  

Red dates are also known as Jujube “da zao” or “hong zao” and are the edible fruits of Ziziphus jujuba in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), they are noted to be a warm neutral temperature for the body, so they are used to balance herbal medicines and work on the stomach and spleen meridians.  

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They support the vital Qi and nourish the blood due to the high content of iron, minerals, and vitamins, particularly vitamin C, which can help banish anemia – a cause of fatigue, pale skin, and poor peripheral circulation. Conversely, low Qi and blood deficiency affect the liver and heart meridians and the symptom is poor sleep quality. 

They are usually consumed dried and are red to reddish-brown in color.

Medicinal food benefits 

Red dates can nourish the blood, spleen, and stomach, strengthen immunity, help digestion and sleep, increase appetite, improve constipation, and calm the mind due to their neuroprotective benefits. 

Eat a small number of red dates every day to boost your blood and improve your energy. But it should be noted that too many red dates can cause bloating and stomach upsets, so limit the number eaten to around 10 a day.   

Red dates are known as the “fruit of the spleen,” which can replenish the deficiency of the spleen and stomach. It is suitable for people prone to indigestion, frequent diarrhea, flatulence, or constipation. When the spleen improves, the skin will look healthy. It can also prevent hair loss and help grow shiny hair. In addition, eating a few red dates every day can strengthen immunity, relieve fatigue, and improve the spirit. 

An easy solution is to put pitted red dates into almost boiling water to make red date tea. It’s best not to boil the red dates in water if you want to preserve the Vitamin C content. Simmering works best. You can put red date tea in a thermos and drink at any time during your office hours to maintain good spirits at work! 

Red dates are beneficial as a food, a tonic, or in herbal mixtures and red date teas.
Red dates are beneficial as a food, a tonic, or in herbal mixtures. (Image: Richard Eriksson via Flickr)

Red date teas 

Red dates can be used with other medicinal foods to achieve synergistic effects. In China, they are referred to as soups.  

To try these recipes, you will need the following ingredients: 

  • Red dates 
  • Whole ginger root
  • Licorice root 
  • Wheat berries 
  • Tremella fungus (These can be hard to find fresh so dried or powdered extract can be used instead)
  • Tangerine skins 

1. Ginger and red date tea

Red dates produce dampness and ginger dehumidifies. Red dates stop perspiration and ginger stimulates sweating. Red dates nourish qi and ginger rises and disperses qi. The two are a perfect match. Taking them together can achieve a balanced effect, and will not make too much qi and cause blockages in the body. 

Ingredients: 8 red dates, 5 to 10 slices of ginger

Method: Simmer together, strain, and drink 

Ginger with no skin can promote urination and remove dampness, so ginger is used whole in this tea. Drinking the two together can improve cold hands and feet in winter and enhance the body’s immunity. It can also regulate digestive function, relieve abdominal distension, and stomach inflammation. 

2. Gan Mai and red date tea

Gan Mai Da Zao (GMDZ) tea can make people happy. It is an ancient TCM prescription to assist in depression, backed up by modern scientific studies, and is recorded as far back as the end of the Han Dynasty in the Jin Gui Yao Lue (Synopsis of Prescriptions of the Golden Chamber) by Zhang Zhongjing (A.D. 152-219).  

Ingredients: 10 red dates, 6 grams of roasted licorice, 30 grams of wheat, and 1 liter of water. 

Method: Put all the ingredients in a pot and simmer. After cooking, you can add some brown sugar or drink it without sugar. 

It is better to use honey-roasted licorice. Red dates can soothe the nerves, while licorice and wheat can soothe the liver and relieve depression. 

It is recommended that the whole family drink this tea with the person who is feeling unwell. When a person is ill, the patient will heal faster if the entire family is in a good mood. 

Gan Mai date tea can make people feel comfortable and help boost immunity. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that righteous qi keeps evil qi out. By enhancing the immune system’s ability, viruses and germs will be excluded. 

A pile of ginger root.
Dates nourish qi and ginger rises and disperse qi. The two are a perfect match. (Image: via Pixabay)

3. Red date and tremella tea

The coronavirus mainly invades the respiratory system, and the lungs are the front line of the body’s defense. Red dates can nourish qi and nourish the lungs. Adding tremella will help boost the immune system and protect the lungs. 

Ingredients: 20 grams tremella (white fungus) and 20 red dates. Use 2 grams of tremella powder or 5 grams of dried tremella.  

Method: Tremella and red dates are simmered together. Lily or lotus seeds can also be added. Dried tremella can be soaked in hot water, which can then be used in the mix. If using powdered tremella, add at the end of the simmering process and stir well before drinking.   

Because red dates already have a sweet taste, there is no need to add sugar, especially for those who can’t eat sugar. If you like a sweeter taste, you can add some rock sugar. 

4. Tangerine skin and red date tea

During the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is under a lot of pressure, and the stomach and intestines are prone to reflect anger and emotional disturbances. Some people may have stomach pain, stomach inflammation, stomach bloating, or gastroesophageal reflux. Why not try a cup of dried tangerine skin and red date tea? 

Ingredients: 10 grams of dried tangerine skin, 4 to 5 red dates. 

Method: Tear pitted red dates into small pieces, shred the dried tangerine skin, or directly ask the Chinese pharmacy staff to help shred. Put the two in a thermos, pour freshly boiled water, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, then you can drink. 

Tangerine skin can regulate the qi of the spleen and stomach. Soaking tangerine skin with red dates can make the stomach and intestine comfortable, and at the same time release the pressure of the whole body. 

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