Since I hit puberty, my mother started making for me two types of drink: a very bitter medicinal soup called ‘Pat ChanTong’ (八珍汤) and Red Dates Tonic (紅棗水).
Though I hated the former, I could tolerate the latter. My mother made it almost every week. As I was more interested in other sweet beverages (e.g Coke) than this tonic, she’ll coaxed me to drink it by saying ‘it will make you beautiful and strong’.
Then, I thought it was something she said just to make me finish up the drink. I was wrong. My mother’s claim is backed by science.
High in iron and vitamins
Dates are inexpensive and rich source of nutrients. It has more vitamin C than an orange and vitamin A than a carrot.
A mere ten pieces of dates provides more iron than one palm-sized beef (Source: Singapore Health Science Authority). All theses vitamins and minerals, are known to be highly beneficial for the skin.
Medicinal values & beauty benefits
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine textbook that I read , red and black dates relieves fatigue, anaemia and regulates appetite (Source: Between Heaven And Earth).
As dates replenishes qi and blood, red dates tonic is often served to girls after menstruation and mothers after childbirth. It is believed that a smooth flow of qi and blood translates to a rosy and lustrous complexion.
Now, I try to drink this tonic often. As I’m not a fan of putting much makeup on my face, I do hope that continuously drinking this tonic will spare me from putting on unnecessary foundation and blusher…
- Pot/ slow cooker
Red Dates Tonic
- 120 g (2 cups) Red dates
- 60 g (9 pcs) Black dates
- 120 g (6 pieces) Honey dates
- 10 cups (2 L) water
- Step 1 PREP: Rinse herbs. With a pair of scissors, cut red dates into half and remove its seed..
- Step 2 COOK: Place all the dates and water in a pot. Bring to boil and then simmer for 2 hours. I prefer to cook on LOW in the slow cooker for 8 hours – 10 hours for maximum flavour.
Add 120 g red dates + 60 g black dates + 6 honey dates + 10 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours. Or cook on LOW in the slow cooker for 8 – 10 hours.
1. PREP: Rinse herbs. With a pair of scissors, cut red dates into half and remove its seed.
2. COOK: Place all the dates and water in a pot. Bring to boil and then simmer for 2 hours. Or cook on LOW in the slow cooker for 6 – 10 hours for maximum flavour.
- Slice red dates To extract maximum flavour, cut the dates into half. I like to use a pair of sharp scissors to do so ( it’s much easier!)
- Remove seed to avoid ‘heatiness’ Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the seed is ‘heaty’, hence it is removed before cooking.
- Deseeded dates You can buy red dates which seeds are already removed. I normally try to avoid and only buy it when I’m really busy as it deteriorate faster.
- Add 2 pieces (12 g) of codonopsis root (dang shen/ 党参) for extra energy boost. When I am feeling particularly tired, I will add codonopsis root which is also known as ‘poor man’s ginseng’.
- Make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for a few days. The beverage is delicious when served hot or cold. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine advocates consuming warm drinks.
- Cook in the pressure cooker in 30 minutes. If you’re short of time, you can cook it in the pressure cooker in 30 minutes. As the cooking time is short, slice red dates into smaller pieces and squash honey dates with the back of the ladle to extra more flavour.
- Cook in the slow cooker if possible. It’s best to slow cook this tonic. Slow cooking extract maximum flavour and nutrient from the dates.
I prefer to make this drink the slow cooker – throw everything into the pot before going to bed and wake up to a pot of nutritious sweet drink. Alternative medicine believe that it is best to drink medicinal tonic with an empty stomach for better absorption.
The above photos is boiled only for 1.5 hours. You can tell from the colour and viscosity of the drink. Slow-cooked red dates drink is deeper in colour, thicker, and pleasantly sweeter than normal.
9 thoughts on “Red Dates Tonic (紅棗水) – 3 Ingredients”
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Can i used pressure cooker instead?
Yes you can. If so, do slice the red dates into half or smaller pieces. But if you have the time, I recommend slow cooking it. It will extract more flavour. The result/taste is significantly better. Besides it’s a nourishing herbal drink that we don’t make everyday. So when we do, I think it’s best to give it a little more time 🙂
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Where can I buy these dates?
Hi. You can get them at Chinese herbal shop. Try this shop at Petaling Street: http://www.chaihuathin.com/search/?q=dates
And then can we still eat the dates or must I throw it away after boiling?
You can eat the dates. Tho I don’t normally do it.