…is a perennial favourite and family staple, alongside home made barley and green bean soup. Ever since I moved out of my parents’ home, it made me appreciate the little things that mum used to do and I would attempt to replicate some of these soups myself. A sip of these chinese soups really does soothe the throat and calm the mind.
I am not entirely sure why the chinese call it “long yan cha” (Longan Tea) especially when there is hardly an element of “tea” in this drink – no tea leaves are used and the flavours are derived entirely from dried longans, red dates and pandan leaves. That said, the final product does taste a little like sweet tea, laced with an almost cinnamon-like tinge of longans and dates that aren’t the least bit cloying. I recommend adding some white fungus – these mushroom like clusters known for their anti-inflammatory benefits are good for your lungs and can help in healing dry coughs. Last I checked, its collagen content is also comparable to bird’s nest. I adapted this recipe for a small pot (my granny used to make it by the vats and mum only had the recipe in kilograms!) and it turned out just the way I remembered.
Longan & Red Dates Tea with White Fungus (adapted from my granny’s recipe)
1 litre of water
200g dried longans
8 dried red dates (snip each date with a scissors for a stronger flavour)
6 stalks of pandan leaves (knotted into 2 bunches)
A handful of dried wood-eared fungus (soaked in water for 2 minutes and stalks trimmed)
30g rock sugar to taste (*optional)
- Boil 1 litre of water and the pandan leaves in a pot.
- When the water starts bubbling, add all the dried longans and red dates. allow the tea to simmer over moderate heat for at least 15 minutes.
- Before serving, add the white fungus and rock sugar (adjust according to preference), allowing it to simmer for another 3 minutes before its done. Discard the dried longans and dates if you don’t eat them (they are edible but rather tasteless by now, though I find retaining it in the tea helps enhance the flavour gradually.)