10 Sep Easy & Effective Eye Nourishing Tea
This simple 2 ingredient tea will strengthen and protect your eyes from irritation and fatigue.
There are some things in life you just can’t avoid like staying up late, an unhealthy amount of screen time, and environmental pollutants—all things which weaken and irritate the eyes. Almost on a a daily basis I will find myself reading an email, and gradually notice that I’m squinting my eyes, and my nose is inching closer and closer to the screen. That’s when I know my eyes need some TLC.
“The Queen of Fall Flowers” and “The King of Berries”
I want to share a simple traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recipe with you. It contains two herbs: Chrysanthemum flowers “The Queen of Fall Flowers” and Goji berries “The King of Berries” (it’s a royal match made in heaven … get it?). These herbs are good staples to have in your pantry because they are used in many recipes to treat various conditions, which I will write more about. However, today I’ll focus on how they work in synergy to nourish the eyes and brighten the vision. This is a caffeine-free tea so you can enjoy it as a calming infusion in the evening.
A Gift from My Professor
I learned about this natural remedy during my graduate study days and have been drinking it ever since. I had spent too many long nights of studying and perpetual exposure to blue light writing research papers. My eyes felt like sandpaper. I found that my tactic of frequent blinking and my go-to eye exercises were not helping. I was given this recipe by a dear professor who said it worked for her throughout the years of sleepless nights: from evening shifts in a busy Chinese medical hospital to being a new mother and frequent traveler. She said, “This recipe is popular not only among the elderly, but the young as well who put too much strain on their eyes.”
I read more about the traditional uses and contemporary findings of these ingredients and from then on, I kept my tea infuser mug with me with this recipe on most days. Now, this is my go-to formula when my eyes need some love.
Nutrition Facts & Traditional Chinese Herbology Breakdown:
Chrysanthemum flowers 菊花 jú huā:
These gorgeous yellow petals are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the liver; vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that protects our cells from premature breakdown; and B-vitamins, including choline, folacin, niacin and riboflavin. Chrysanthemum tea is also abundant in the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. According to traditional Chinese medical herbology, chrysanthemum tea is a natural coolant, which is favorable in cases of heat-related headaches, toothaches, sore throat, skin flares, painful eyes, and irritability. Specifically, the wild chrysanthemum variety (ye jú huā) is especially beneficial for treating sore throat, skin sores, and painful-swollen eyes. White chrysanthemum flower (jú huā or bái jú huā) brightens the eyes and treats painful-red eyes.
Goji berries 寧夏⼦ gǒu qǐ zi:
You may have come across these crimson berries in dried form at your local health foods store. Also known as wolfberries, these sweet-tart fruits are rich in vitamin C, fiber, iron and vitamin A. The high levels of antioxidant zeaxanthin not only gives goji berries their vibrant color, but is also the leading contributor to protecting the eyes from age-related macular degeneration. Goji berries have many uses in Chinese medicine, however, for the purposes of this post, they are often used to treat dizziness, blurred vision, and diminished acuity due to their Blood-tonifying and yin-fluid building properties (TCM language.)
Pro-Tips: Getting Ingredients
Don’t be intimidated by the ingredients! They are very easy to purchase online and can even be scouted locally.
In the San Diego area where I live you can purchase them at these grocery stores:
420 Walnut Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 · 619-501-7603
4619 Convoy St A-1, San Diego, CA 92111 · (858) 694-0339
4765 Voltaire Street San Diego, CA 92107 · (619) 224-1387
7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd · (858) 268-3300
If you happen to live in a city with a Chinatown or Chinese market, you may be able to save a few dollars per bag. Common Asian supermarket chains like 99 Ranch in California, Sunset Super (San Francisco), or even Korean and Japanese stores should supply this common traditional herb.
If you happen to know a good Chinese herb store share the location and name in the comments below to help our fellow community members.
Here are my favorite organic online herbal suppliers:
But What Does It Taste Like?
Some TCM herbal potions have the reputation of being very bitter or pungent, but fear not, this tea is not one of those! It has a very clean, almost corn like sweetness.
When made correctly, the tea has a beautiful clear, straw yellow color and a pleasant distinct sweet flavor. If you find the tea is a little on the watery-tasting side, add an additional teaspoon of goji berry.
Some like to leave the berries in the tea and eat them for an additional vitamin boost. A friend of mine just enjoys the texture, which is similar to a rehydrated raisin, but with little seeds inside which she claims are fun to chew on.
I personally make a big batch and drink it slowly over time in a travel cup, so I prefer to drain the berries out so that they don’t block the mouth opening.
I’d love to hear how you like to drink your Chrysanthemum and Goji Berry tea. Comment below on if you like the taste or if you find it too bland.
CAUTION: Goji berries are indeed within the nightshade category. If you have known sensitivities to nightshade vegetables or fruits (e.g., eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes), you can make this a single ingredient tea with the chrysanthemum flowers alone. You can also substitute with dried jujube (Chinese red dates or hong zao.) You won’t miss out.
Bring water to a boil
Add flowers and berries to a rolling boil for 1 minute
Simmer for 10 mins
Turn off the heat and allow the tea to cool for 5 mins
For a lighter tea, drain the flowers and berries
For a stronger tea, allow the flowers and berries to steep in the water while slowly sipping the tea throughout the day
Stirring local/raw honey is optional
Optional: If your eyes are especially red, painful and irritated–especially if this is seasonal (late-spring/summer/fall) and/or associated with a sore throat or headache–consider adding a bit of fresh/dried honeysuckle flowers to your tea as they also clear heat and relieve toxicity in TCM.
References & Further Reading:
- Chen LX, et al. Comparison of antioxidant activities of different parts from snow chrysanthemum (Coreopsis tinctoria Nutt.) and identification of their natural antioxidants using high performance liquid chromatography coupled with diode array detection and mass spectrometry and 2,2′-azinobis(3- ethylbenzthiazoline-sulfonic acid)diammonium salt-based assay. Journal of Chromatography A. 2016 Jan 8;1428:134-42. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2015.10.037. Epub 2015 Oct 19. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ 26521095
- Dufay S, et al. Herbal tea extracts inhibit Cytochrome P450 3A4 in vitro. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2014 Oct;66(10):1478-90. doi: 10.1111/jphp.12270. Epub 2014 May 13. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ 24824478
- Wang Y, et al. Inhibition of attachment of oral bacteria to immortalized human gingival fibroblasts (HGF-1) by tea extracts and tea components. BMC Research Notes. 2013 Apr 11;6:143. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-6-143. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ 23578062
- Jeong SC, et al. Hepatoprotective effect of water extract from Chrysanthemum indicum L. flower. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2013 Apr 4;8(1):7. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-8-7.. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23557275
- Wang Y, et al. Potential mechanisms for the effects of tea extracts on the attachment, biofilm formation and cell size of Streptococcus mutans. Biofouling. 2013;29(3):307-18. doi: 10.1080/08927014.2013.774377. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23528127
- Nugroho A, et al. Identification and quantification of the sedative and anticonvulsant flavone glycoside from Chrysanthemum boreale. Archives of Pharmacal Research. 2013 Jan;36(1):51-60. doi: 10.1007/s12272-013-0015-8. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23325489
- Wu TY, et al. Anti-inflammatory/Anti- oxidative stress activities and differential regulation of Nrf2-mediated genes by non-polar fractions of tea Chrysanthemum zawadskii and licorice Glycyrrhiza uralensis. American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. 2011 Mar;13(1):1-13. doi: 10.1208/s12248-010-9239-4. Epub 2010 Oct 22. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20967519
- Bucheli, et al. Goji Berry Effects on Macular Characteristics and Plasma Antioxidant Levels. Optometry & Vision Science: February 2011 – Volume 88 – Issue 2 – pp 257-262 doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e318205a18f. journals.lww.com/optvissci/ Fulltext/2011/02000/Goji_ Berry_Effects_on_Macular_ Characteristics_and.12.aspx
- Pavan B, et al. High glucose-induced barrier impairment of human retinal pigment epithelium is ameliorated by treatment with Goji berry extracts through modulation of cAMP levels. Experimental Eye Research. Mar;120:50-4. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2013.12.006. Epub 2013 Dec 15. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24345371
- Song MK, et al. Lycium barbarum (Goji Berry) extracts and its taurine component inhibit PPAR-γ-dependent gene transcription in human retinal pigment epithelial cells: Possible implications for diabetic retinopathy treatment. Biochemical Pharmacology Journal. 2011 Nov 1;82(9):1209-18. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2011.07.089. Epub 2011 Jul 27. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21820420
- John K. Chen and Tina T. Chen. Chinese Medical Herbology & Pharmacology. Art of Medicine Press; 1st edition (January 1, 2004)
- Thomas Avery Garran. Western Herbs according to Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Practitioner’s Guide. Healing Arts Press; 1 edition (January 22, 2008)