Are you talking continuously over a period of time? Are you concerned about your cholesterol level? Do you feel greasy after a meal? Do you need something to quench your thirst after shopping? Are you looking for some weight reduction aids? Is your family concerned about your hypertension? Well besides Rosella Tea in my earlier post, this HAWTHORN UME TEA the right drink for you!
UNDERSTANDING UME (WU MEI used interchangeably)
To Chinese, maybe the English name of this tea sound so alien to you. Hawthorn sounds so westernized and yet Ume sounds so Japanese. However, if translated into Chinese, it is just the well known Sanzha Wu Mei Cha (“山楂乌梅茶“）which was usually served in Chinese restaurants.
The main ingredient today is Prunus Mume or sour plum and to complement the taste, hawthorn was added since both fruits have some common medicinal values.
Prunus Mume is the national flower of Taiwan and you can learn more about Prunus Mume from my post for HERE. In Japanese it is called Ume. Its smoked version is called the Wu Mei and shall be used interchangeably with Ume.
For those readers in South East Asian Countries, we may not be familiar with Wu Mei in its raw form but hopefully this picture compilation will give you a better understanding. The first and second pictures are the prunus mume tree and its flowers. The third picture showed the fruits that are commonly available in the supermarket. After the fruit is dried, it become the Suan Mei（酸梅） and if smoked, it becomes Wu Mei （乌梅）.
Accordingly to Wikipedia, Prunus Mume’s nutritional benefits are as follows:
Prunus mume is a common fruit in Asia and used in traditional Chinese medicine. It has long been used as a traditional drug and healthy food in East Asian countries. A recent study has indicated that Prunus mume extract is a potential candidate for developing an oral antimicrobial agent to control or prevent dental diseases associated with several oral pathogenic bacteria.Recent studies have also shown that Prunus mume extract may inhibit Helicobacter pylori, associated with gastritis and gastric ulcers.Experiments on rats suggest that P. mume extract administered during endurance exercise training may enhance the oxidative capacity of exercising skeletal muscle, and may induce the muscle to prefer fatty acids for its fuel use rather than amino acids or carbohydrates, thus assisting endurance
For my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically included this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.
Hawthorn in Chinese is called Sanzha (山楂）. It is a shrub prevailing in the northern hemisphere‘s temperate regions. The fruits are bright red and Chinese makes it into a snack called tanghulu （糖葫芦) and a type of candy that was exported to South East Asian countries called Shan Za Candy or (山楂饼)
Hawthorn is a type of plant used in traditional herbalism. It is believed to be useful for treating cardiac insufficiency. The plant parts used medicinally are usually sprigs with both leaves and flowers, or alternatively the fruit. Several species of hawthorn have both traditional and modern medicinal uses. It is a good source of antioxidant phytochemicals,especially extracts of hawthorn leaves with flowers.
UME TEA DEFINED
According to Wikipedia:
In mainland China and Taiwan, suanmeitang (酸梅湯; sour plum juice) is made from smoked plums, called wumei (烏梅). The plum juice is extracted by boiling smoked plums in water and sweetened with sugar to make suanmeitang. It ranges from light pinkish-orange to purplish black in color and often has a smoky and slightly salty taste. It is traditionally flavored with sweet Osman thus flowers, and is enjoyed chilled, usually in summer. The juice produced in Japan and Korea, made from green plums, tastes sweet and tangy, and is considered a refreshing drink, also often enjoyed in the summer.
WHY THIS DRINK?
One of my sister in law is a teacher and need continuous hours of talking. She likes to prepare the Wu Mei tea to soothe her throats. In one of my trips back to Kuching, she taught me how to prepare the drink.
As it is a bit sour, I have modified the original recipe with the inclusion of licorice and dried hawthorns.
The benefits of drinking this tea are that hawthorn can help to prevent cardiovascular disease by expanding the blood vessels and improve coronary blood flows. It helps to lower the blood pressure and cholesterol. It also has the effect of stimulating the central nervous system and a good diuretic agent. Both hawthorn and Wu Mei are full of antioxidants that have anti aging properties. In addition, hawthorn has the ability to control phlegm production, inhibit bacterial growth in our body and assist in the treatment of diarrhea. Wu Mei, on the other hand, have the ability to soothe the throat, improve appetite and remove fatigue.
As hawthorn is a natural diuretic, people with kidney problems should only drink in moderations.
In addition, people who have too much stomach acidity or gastric problems such as acid refluxes should also be careful on the amount of intake. It is best to have the drink only after a meal.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Ume (about 20 pieces), dried Hawthorns (about 30 pieces) white rock sugar or brown rock sugar or white granulated sugar (250g), licorice (3-5 long pieces but is optional), water.
Wash the Wu Mei and dried hawthorn. Boil these together with the licorice (甘草）in a medium to big pot of water for about 20-30 minutes or until the both the Wu Mei and dried hawthorn is soft. Note that licorice is added to lower down the acidity of the drink. For those who are not familiar with this drink, you will find that it is extremely sour like freshly squeezed lime juice and adding some pieces of licorice will help to make the drinks more palatable.
Add in rock sugar and boiled for another 5 minutes. Off the heat and let the Wu Mei and hawthorn to soak in the tea for another 30 minutes,. Sieved and serve hot or cold. If you found that the tea is too concentrated, you can keep the concentrated juices and add in water when preparing the drink.
You can keep the cooked Wu Mei and de-flesh it, smashed and add to your drink to enhance the smoky fragrance. Alternatively, you can just keep these Wu Mei as snacks as its taste is very much like sour plum.
- This drink can be served hot or cold but as it is a thirst quencher, most people prefer to add ice to the drink.
- I have made the excess drink into ice stick and I just loved to have a stick after dinner or lunch. It is very refreshing and it really helps to get rid of the greasiness in your mouth and aids in digestion.
The benefits of Wu Mei are many. In an article titled “Fructus Pruni Mume (Wu Mei) – An Ongoing Fascination”, it was stated that Wu Mei had the following medicinal value in the treatment of :
Chronic Hepatitis B
Irritable Bowel Syndromes
Pulmonary distention coughing & panting
Its ability to satiate thirsts make it an excellent choice of cold drinks in the tropics and it is good to your vocal cord if you need long continuous hours of talking. However, cautions have to be careful if you have gastrointestinal problems and kidney problems where consumptions have to be moderate and it is better to consult a doctor prior to the long term consumptions of this drink.