Snake Tongue Tea? Gosh.. I Am Going Away……白花蛇舌草罗汉果茶

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the body is in its best condition when the Yin and Yang is balanced. I am no expert in this field but being  a Chinese, I was “brainwashed” about the need to cleanse /balance your body with some foods and drinks such that your body is in the top notch condition.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_medicine

One of cheapest way of “self medication” or “self balancing” about your body’s Yin and Yang is preparing some herbal drinks at home. There are many many herbs that sometimes i seriously doubt that the grass/weeds that I stepped under my feet are edible and are types of herbs.

In fact, today, one of the herb that I wanted to share with all is a common grass that can be found in many countries. But don’t simply pluck from the streets and cook it unless you are 100% sure of that is exact the plant. Eating plants that have toxins can be disastrous to your body!


WHY THIS DRINK?

Last week, I am eating a lot of baked pastry, according to TCM, it brought heat to your body. I am having a bit of sore throat and today when I am doing the marketing,  I saw these plants. It is in a store selling all sort of herbs in a wet market. Beside selling this herb, they also sell other types of “body cooling” herbs such as purple cane, rhoeo tricolour and other general cooking herbs such as Thai basil, mint leaves and etc..

I WAS TOLD THAT IT IS A COMMON ITEM AND IF YOU CAN GET THIS HERB IN ITS RAW/FRESH FORM, YOU CAN TRY THE DRIED VERSION IN THE TRADITIONAL CHINESE VERSION MEDICAL SHOP.

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This herb is called Hedyotis Diffusa (白花蛇舌草)scientifically and literally translated from Chinese language as White Flower Snake Tongue Grass! Don’t asked me why this name, Ha-ha.

As Hedyotis Diffusa sound so alien to most readers, shall we have a simpler name Snake Tongue Grass? So, from this point onwards, Hedyotis Diffusa and snake tongue grass shall be used interchangeably.

As per Wikipedia on Heydotis Diffusa, it was written that

Hedyotis diffusa (Chinese: 白花蛇舌草; pinyin: báihuā shéshécǎo; literally “white flower snake-tongue grass”, sometimes abbreviated to 蛇舌草 shéshécǎo) is a kind of herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is sometimes combined with Siraitia grosvenorii (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果; pinyin: luóhànguǒ) to make hot drinks like Lohoguo of Guongsei (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果蛇舌草精; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果蛇舌草精; pinyin: luóhànguǒ shéshécǎo jīng) or Luohanguo Pearl and Sheshecao Beverage.

Therefore, in this illustration, I have combined with Siritia Grosvenorii (罗汉果), hereinafter refer to as Lohanguo), another common traditional Chinese medicine ingredient.  It is a natural sweetener and is used to treat diabetes in TCM. This combination is nothing raw, you can see it in Chinese Provision shops that sell in instant form.

Source: http://www.fjzzyy.cn/product.asp


BENEFITS OF SNAKE TOUNGE GRASS (HEDYOTIS DIFFUSA)

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Snake tongue grass is believed to have inflammation properties and ability to prevent tumour growth. In addition, it is used to clear heat, counteract toxins, remove damp, treatment of boils and abscesses, snake bite, sore throat etc..

If you goggled heydyotis diffusa, you will note that there are lots of research relating to studies on its role on cancer prevention. The articles below list out the major health benefits of snake tongue grass which includes mostly inhibit cancerous growth of many types of cancer- Chinese herbs in Western View – Baihuasheshecao – health benefits and side effects.

 Sourcehttp://www.baike.com/wiki/白花蛇舌草

In another study to study the anticancer properties of Oldenlandia Diffusa published by US National Library of Medicines in 2004, it was concluded that:

“Oldenlandia diffusa extract effectively inhibited the growth of all the eight cancer cell lines and induced significant increase of apoptosis. The extract exhibited minimum toxic effect on normal pancreatic cells. Furthermore, there was a significant inhibition of lung metastases in the animal model with no noticeable adverse effects. The herb extract could be a potential anticancer agent.”(Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15273074)

As with other herbals, it is advisable that PREGRNANT WOMEN SHALL REFRAINED FROM DRINKING THE TEA UNLESS WITH ADVISE FROM MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.


As with my other drink series, since this is a Chinese herbs, for the benefits of my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically include this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

  • 痈肿疮毒,咽喉肿痛,毒蛇咬伤。本品苦寒,有较强的清热解毒作用,用治热毒所致诸证,内服外用均可。如单用鲜品捣烂外敷,治疗痈肿疮毒,也可以本品与金银花、连翘、野菊花等药同用;用治肠痈腹痛,常与红藤、败酱草、牡丹皮等药同用;若治咽喉肿痛,多与黄芩、玄参、板蓝根等药同用;若用治毒蛇咬伤,可单用鲜品捣烂绞汁内服或水煎服,渣敷伤口,疗效较好,亦可与半枝莲、紫花地丁、蚤休等药配伍应用。近年利用本品清热解毒消肿之功,已广泛用于各种癌证的治疗
  • 热淋涩痛。本品甘寒,有清热利湿通淋之效,单用本品治疗膀胱湿热,小便淋沥涩痛,亦常与白茅根、车前草、石韦等同用。” (Source:中医e百网页)


BENEFITS OF ARHAT FRUIT OR LUOHANGUO (SIRITIA GROSVENORII)

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Luohanguo is also called arhat fruit or monk fruits. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a natural low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks, and in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diabetes and obesity. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siraitia_grosvenorii). It is very common and you can easily purchased it in any Chinese herbal shops at a very reasonable price.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • One bunch of fresh snake tongue grass of about 500 g. Usually it comes with root and cost about SGD1.20 for it (this price is for estimating the quantity of your fresh snake tongue grass)

  • 6 dried lohanguo

  • 400 gram of rock sugar (can be adjusted according to individual preference)

  • 4 litres of water.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Soak your snake tongue grass in clean water for 15 minutes

  • Clean thoroughly the grass and watch out for the root portion which may have some soils stuck to the plants.

  • Use clean water to rinse the cleaned snake tongue grass.

The soaking of the snake tongue grass is requested by my mother in law which i think it make sense. Be it commercially cultivated or “plucking” from the wild, we will never know if there are any pesticides, therefore like other vegetables, it is a precautionary steps to wash away the pesticides (if any) by soaking in the water.

You may need quite a lot of water to clean the natural herbs. It is my usual habit to recycle  these water for watering my plants! These are just muddy water and throwing away is a waste. If you do have a lot of plants at home, I would encourage to use this to water your plant or flush your toilet, if you want. You know, I am just a stingy old man! Ha-ha

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  • Break open the lohanguo and look out for any mould in the shell!

 

NOTE

Note that it is not necessary for you to break your lohanguo like the picture above. I do have the habit to break it and see what is inside. There are a few experiences that I saw mold settling insides the seeds. If it is dry with small patches, i will just wash with cold water. Otherwise, I will throw away. The usual ways of cooking this is just use some hard object to break but not open the lohanguo, throw it in the herbs that you are cooking.

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  • Put 4 litres of water in a big pot. Add in snake tongue grass and lohanguo and bring to boil under high heat!

  • Once boiled, turned to medium heat and boiled for another 15-20 minutes.

  • Add in rock sugar and let it boiled for another 5 minutes.

NOTE:

The preparation of this drink is rather flexible, be it the use of main ingredients (snake tongue grass and lohanguo) or side ingredients (rock sugar) and water, You can always adjust to suit your family’s taste buds. Personally, I will start with less water and some rock sugar. If i find it too sweet or concentrated, i will just dilute with water.

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  • Strain the herbal teas and store in a glass bottle (preferred if you have). Though it is not advisable to keep this overnight according to TCM, however, if needed, store in fridge in a clean (preferred if sterilized with hot water) bottle.


VARIATIONS

  • As the drink can be slightly bland, you can add in a small quantity of dry longan to add flavour to it. I have added this to make my kids drinking this tea.


CONCLUSION

I am eating a piece of my zebra patterned pound cake with a glass of this tea as a snack this morning. Chinese believed that all oven baked pastries are “heaty” to your body. There is a constant need to have some drinks to “cool” your body. Too much “heat” in your body will cause acne, sore throat, boils, abscesses and etc.. (In Western terms : inflammation). This is pleasant drink and is a choice among many body cooling drinks that are cooked by Chinese households. You may also interested in my other drink series here:

Have a nice day and don’t forget to cleanse your body! Hope you like the post and cheers.

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Basic But Presentable, Basic But Irresistible…Basic Raisin Scones Shared… (葡萄干司康)

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Updated Post on : 7 September 2014

This post was issued on 7 July 2013, more than a year ago. Then I just started my blog and I barely have any idea of photo taking for the recipes. I felt that I have not do any justice to this post as it is a workable recipe that I like very much. Since today I am preparing this for breakfast, I have decided to do another photo shot.

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All scones recipes are basically the same, comprising flour, milk and butter. What create a difference is the handling, remember : LIGHT AND SWIFT HANDLING, as long as it can form a dough, you can shape and bake. Scones will never look pretty, a rugged look will mean it is well risen and air were incorporated into the pastry. Hope all will like it.

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INTRODUCTION

Yes, today baking item is rather simple and basic. There is no short cut method and lets start from the basic of “pastry” making. A traditional, simple yet delicious breakfast items – Raisin Scones.

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SCONE DEFINED

A scone is a single-serving cake or quick bread. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent, and are baked on sheet pans. They are often lightly sweetened and are occasionally glazed. The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea. It differs from a tea cake and other sweet buns, which are made with yeast. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scone)

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WHAT IS NEEDED?

Materials for scone are extremely simple and basic. It is flour (wheat flour or oatmeal flour), liquid (milk), fats (butter) and some leavening agents (baking powder). It’s proportion of butter to flour are very low therefore, making it drier and unlike cakes which are moist and greasy.

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The following measurements are in the making 10 medium sized scones.

  • 500 g of plain flour – sieved
  • 100 g of cold butter cut into cubes and keep in the fridge for further use.
  • 2 cups (about 500 ml) of cold milk, plus a few tablespoons for glazing
  • 1 cup (about 160 g) of raisins (optional)
  • Pinches of salt.
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Preheat the oven to hot 2200C and lightly grease a baking tray or put a baking paper on the baking tray.
  • Sift the flour, pinches of salt and baking powder into a big mixing bowl.
  • Add the butter cubes from the fridge.
  • Use finger tips to lightly rub the butter until butter and flour are well mixed resembling crumbs. Rubbing should be light and fast.

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  • Compare the first and second picture, you can that the butter have stick to the flour and small crumbs were formed.

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  • Add in raisins and mixed lightly with the buttered flour.
  • Make a centre in the flour. Add almost all the cold milk and mix lightly in the same direction with a spoon/spatula/flat bladed knife.

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  • Mix until the dough comes together in a clump. Because the moisture content of flours may varies, therefore. amount used can also varies depending on the room temperature or attitude!  If it is too dry, use the remaining cold milk.
  • Dust some flour in the table and in your hand.

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  • Use floured hand and gather the dough together.
  • Lightly shape it into a smooth ball and lift out onto a lightly floured surface;
  • Lightly pat the dough in a 2 cm thick and use a rolling pin to lightly roll on the dough until even.
  • Use a 5 cm diameter cutter to cut the scones into rounds. Note that if you do not have the round cutter, you can also cut it into a triangular shape which is perfectly acceptable for a scone. Traditional scones are triangular shapes in fact.

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  • Gather the trimmings together, press out as before and cut more rounds.
  • Lightly brush with milk.

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  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until risen and golden on top.
  • If it had already risen and the top is not golden yet, brushed with additional milk and bake until the milk dries up. The color shall be darker now.

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  • A successful should have some signs of rising along the side signifying that it is well risen, light and not compact.

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  • Scones are best served fresh from the oven, warm at room temperature.
  • Served  with whipped cream, butter or jam. All these are suggestions and optional. However, the combination of these three items with a warm scone is definitely worth the efforts of preparing it.
  • Usually, it was usually served as a breakfast item or at tea time “quick breads” with a pot of hot tea.
  • If you can’t finish the scone, just freeze it. Heat up before next servings.

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TIPS ON MAKING A GOOD SCONE

If you are observant enough, you will notice that I have kept repeating the words “cold” and “light”. Yes, in order to have butter crumbs, the butter need to be cold so that it is in a solid state.

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If the butter melts at room temperature (it will at times when the room temperature is too high, it will not become a crumb but become a batter instead. The need to have butter in solid form is to introduce air into the dough. When butter melts, it will become a hole in the dough and replaced by air. The scone will be lighter and softer.

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The same principle applies to light handling of the dough. The use of flat bladed knife will introduce air to the mixture, rough handling on the other hand, will push all the air out of dough causing the dough to be hard and possibly chewy. Therefore, never knead your dough like making the bread.

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CONCLUSION

To conclude:

  • Scones are easy to prepare and an excellent choice of breakfast or tea time item.
  • As scones have very low fat contents, it is rather dry and usually served with cream, jam or butter. However, these are all optional depending on individual health objectives.
  • All types of scones are prepared using the same principle, adding the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, mix the dough as briefly, lightly and swiftly as possible. This recipe is rather basic and you can easily modify it to become cranberry, lemon flavoured or other flavours that suit your taste buds.

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Lastly, hope that you enjoy reading and take a step out to try making the scones..  

Have a nice day and cheers.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 28 July 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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