Heilongjiang Province is the northernmost province in China. It’s extremely cold during the winter, and cool in the summer. Not many plants can grow there due to its extreme natural conditions. However, many herbs growing in this area have magnificent medical values, such as red sage, barley, Chinese caterpillar fungus and so on.
Roasted Barley tea
Barley is a type of grain that only grows in cold areas. Barley is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, because it’s believed to protect the stomach and help to lose weight. It is mildly “cold” (In the Yin and Yang theory, yin is cold and yang is hot.) and helps improve digestion. It also benefits the spleen and said to aid in weight loss. It cleanses the system and can help treat the inflammatory throat and benefits congestion and bronchitis.
Roasted barley tea is a popular drink in the northern China, because it keeps people fresh and cool in the hot and humid summer. Barley tea is traditionally made by briefly simmering roasted barley grains. Harvested in autumn, those grains are baked in over the fire to remove unpleasant odors. It has a toasty taste, with slight bitter undertones, but much less so than tea made from tea leaves. You can add honey or sugar, though many purists insist on drinking it unsweetened.
Many people say it’s more refreshing than plain water. One cup of barley tea in the morning can help clean up body waste. Or you can take a sip after meals due to its positive effects on digestion. It’s usually served cold, though the hot version is popular in winter.
There are some tips to select good barley tea. In markets you can purchase barley that has already been roasted to a deep, dark brown – that form is the most common, but tea bags are also sold for cold brewing. First, you can observe the color. The golden brown is the best. Second, you can smell it. The best baked barley tea has a slight burnt smell.
You can make it as strong as you wish, but two to three spoonfuls per liter is a common proportion.
Red sage is another special herb in Heilongjiang. Since the Ming Dynasty, Chinese doctors started to use red sage to improve blood circulation and protect the brain. Research has suggested that the presence of volatile oil in sage is largely responsible for most of its therapeutic properties, especially its antiseptic, astringent and relaxing actions. Red sage is partly responsible for hormonal effects, such as reducing breast-milk production.
In Chinese medicine, sage is a ‘Yin’ tonic with a reputation for supporting the nervous system. Like all aromatic herbs, sage can soothe the digestive tract. Old people are suggested to have some red sage tea before meals to stimulate their appetites and improve their digestion.
Red sage can regulate hormones, especially for women. It helps improve irregular and scanty periods. Meanwhile, it also helps reduce the pain during periods. Red sage can promote stronger menstrual flow, reduce sweating, especially during menopause, decrease hot flushes and generally help the body to adjust to hormonal changes.
Red sage tea also has some other general effects. It can relieve sore throats, taken internally and used as a very effective gargle. Also, it benefits the healing process, especially for mouth ulcers, sore gums and external wounds. Some northern family mix red sage and water together, and it helps kill the bacteria and clean the cut.
Red sage acts as a digestive tonic helping to stimulate or soothe the digestive tract. As a nerve tonic, helps to both calm and stimulate the nervous system. It’s useful for stings and bites, especially if the fresh leaves are rubbed onto the affected area. It was traditionally used to help asthma; the dried leaves are often used in herbal smoking mixtures.
There are many more teas in Heilongjiang Province. People there like mixed tea more than anywhere else. They create some special recipes for different medical purposes. For example, to heal sore throats, parley and red sage are mixed to reduce warm up the stomach and relieve the pain.
To enhance effects, many herbs are added to diets. Barley is a popular ingredient. Cooked with meat, barley tastes a little sweet. To those who don’t like the plain flavor of tea, mike and honey and enrich the taste without ruin the medical effects.