Are you trying to bolster your eye health? In our family, we are definitely doing what we can to strengthen the eyes. At any given time, members of our family will have red and/or itchy eyes, dry eye, or blurry / myopic vision. While we use artificial tears and allergy eye drops, we also do what we can to help address the root cause.
In traditional Chinese medicine, chrysanthemum (菊花, ju hua) is the go to herb for clearing and strengthening the liver which is apparently closely tied to our eye health, among other things. While there are extracts and capsules, our form of intake has always been through tea.
Which kind of chrysanthemum (菊花) is best for eyes?
When I first looked up chrysanthemum tea recipes, I found many refer to chrysanthemum generally without specification. In fact, there are (at least) two main kinds of chrysanthemum, white (白菊花, bai ju hua) or yellow (黄菊花, huang ju hua). In the realm of eye health, yellow is much more popular and is indicated for dry, tired eyes. White is suggested more often for visual acuity. There was some conflicting info online (I’ve listed the main sources that I consulted below in ‘Resources.’) So I’ve settled on buying and drinking some of both. The white version is definitely more bitter and tastes more like medicine.
You can buy chrysanthemum at your local Asian grocery, Chinese herbs store, or online. I’ve been buying an organic version from Starwest Botanicals that is sometimes available on Amazon as well as directly from their website.
White chrysanthemum from Starwest Botanicals
Which kind of goji (枸杞子) is best?
As with chrysanthemum, I didn’t realize there were different kinds. There are at least two different kinds of goji berries (also known as wolfberry, gou qi zi, 枸杞子). Until recently when someone gifted us a box of black goji berries (the exact product that I’ve linked to here), I had only heard of the red goji berries. But apparently, the black goji berries are even more powerful and have more antioxidants than red goji berries. You can supposedly chew the dried black goji as a snack (the red ones are definitely snackable and have raisin consistency), but when I tried the black ones, they were very dry and tasteless. Maybe I have the wrong kind.
Red goji berries are sold at various grocery health food stores (Whole Foods and the like). They even sell them in bulk at our local Costco. Black goji berries are not so ubiquitous, but I found them at my local Chinese herbal store, online herbal stores, and even Amazon seems to have some selection these days.
In the end, I concluded that choosing the goji berry depends on your needs at the time. Both are generally good for you – the red goji berry is sweet and more neutral in nature, and the black goji berry may be more powerful, but less tasty. We have some of each, as I like to hedge my bets and balance things out.
Goji berries from Costco
If you don’t have access to the variety, don’t get hung up on it. Any chrysanthemum and any goji will likely have some benefit. As with a lot of Chinese medicine, long term, steady consumption is advised for more benefit. My children’s TCM doctor told us that we, including the children, could safely have chrysanthemum tea everyday and that it would be great for subduing allergic tendencies.
Ingredients (for 1 serving)
- 4-5 dried white or yellow chrysanthemum flowers (this quantity is more dependent on taste, the more flowers, the stronger the tea, and so on)
- A handful of goji berries (again, the quantity is also more about taste. The more you add, the sweeter the tea). Use either black or red berries, or both!
- Honey (optional)
- Boil water.
- When water comes to a boil, turn off heat. Throw in flowers and berries. Let it steep for at least 5 minutes. (More time won’t hurt; it’ll just taste stronger). Variation: Simmer the flowers and berries for a few minutes before steeping.
- Strain out the flowers and goji berries.
- Add honey if desired and drink!
Different kinds of chrysanthemum, indications for white vs. yellow:
- https://www.americandragon.com/Individualherbsupdate/JuHua.html (white v yellow, mainly in the notes section)
Goji berries, red vs. black:
Other chrysanthemum tea recipe write-ups that I like:
Thoughts? More info? Better info? I’m all ears. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.