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Chinese Herbal Teas to Promote Sleep

Enjoying tea is an integral part of Chinese life, and drinking herbal tea is also a popular yet affordable way for ordinary people to relieve common ailments. Depending on what causes your sleep problem, a specific tea should be able to help you. For example, for a restless mind unable to sleep, sour jujube seed, Chinese arborvitae kernel, tuber fleeceflower stem or schisandra can be used to make a tea; for insomnia due to mental fatigue, a tea made from longan aril, red dates, wolfberry or ginseng are helpful. With a nauseous or upset stomach, a hawthorn fruit or tangerine peel tea can relieve the discomfort; sleep disturbed by a headache can use a tea made from chrysanthemum, Sichuan lovage or cassia seed; a depressive or irritable mood will be alleviated with a tea made from lotus plumule, albizia flower, rose bud or jasmine.

Generally, the tea may be a combination of leaves, bark, buds and roots. When using roots or bark or other coarse components, you need to grind them properly or boil them to make a decoction. You are advised to drink the tea in the evening, which help release tension and soothe the mind after busy work.

The following are some simple tea recipes that help promote sleep.

Chrysanthemum tea
Place dried chrysanthemum (10g) in a cup of boiling water, infuse for five minutes then add sugar to taste. Chrysanthemum clears liver fire and inhibits a hyperactive liver, which can cause insomnia, dizziness, irritability and eye soreness. The tea is particularly suitable for people with hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases.

Chrysanthemum tea

Albizia flower tea
Steep albizia flower (12g) in hot water for 5 minutes and serve warm. The flower has an effect of relieving qi stagnation caused by emotional distress, and thus can ease a stressful mind, allowing the body to relax and fall into sleep. TCM uses it for conditions like insomnia, depression, tightness in the chest and poor mental functioning. Drinking the tea regularly helps to stabilize the nervous system and maintain a calm mood.

Lotus plumule tea
Steep lotus plumule (5g) and liquorice root (5g) in hot water for 10 minutes and serve warm. The tea is slightly bitter in taste, which clears heart fire and helps relieve insomnia accompanied by irritability and mouth dryness.

Common rush and bamboo leaf tea
Boil common rush (10g) and fresh bamboo leaf (30g), with 500mls of water for 15 minutes, add sugar to taste. The two ingredients clear heart fire and calm the mind. The tea is suitable for insomnia accompanied by irritability, palpitations, forgetfulness and urinary difficulty.

Acorus tea
Boil acorus (3g), hawthorn fruit (15g) and red dates (5 pieces) with the desired amount of water for 20 minutes, add brown sugar to taste. The tea is suitable for insomnia accompanied by palpitations, forgetfulness and low appetite.

Chinese arborvitae kernel tea
Fry Chinese arborvitae kernel (500g), crush slightly and store in a sealed container. Each time, take 15-20g of the herb, infuse with hot water and wait for 10 minutes, and then mix with honey. The tea is suitable for insomnia or dream-disturbed sleep accompanied by a pale complexion, forgetfulness, palpitations, and constipation.

Longan aril tea
Steep longan aril (10g) in hot water for 10 minutes, add rock sugar to taste. Longan aril invigorates the heart and spleen, and calms the mind. This tea is suitable for those who are mentally exhausted, have difficulty sleeping and who have a poor memory.

Schisandra tea
First, roast and crush the desired amount of schisandra, and store in a sealed container. Each time, take 5g of the herb and infuse with hot water, wait for 3 minutes and then add honey to taste. Schisandra promotes lung and kidney functioning, and helps relieve insomnia, fatigue and night sweats.

Prickly acanthopanax root tea
Boil prickly acanthopanax root also known as Siberian ginseng (15g) and schisandra (6g) with the desired amount of water for 20 minutes, add sugar to taste. The tea improves sleep quality, and is good for those with anemia. It also helps prevent coronary disease.

Wolfberry and jujube seed tea
Steep wolfberry fruit (10g) and sour jujube seed (10g) in a cup of hot water for 20 minutes, add brown sugar to taste. The tea nourishes the body and calms the mind. It is suitable for those who experience insomnia, irritability and mental fatigue due to insufficient essence and blood.

Ginseng tea
Simmer ginseng (10g) with 400ml of water for 15 minutes.
There are different types of ginseng, suitable for different situations. For people with mental fatigue, shortness of breath, mouth dryness and a red tongue, American ginseng or white Chinese ginseng is appropriate; while people who have limb coldness, sensitivity to low temperatures, poor appetite and a pale tongue, red ginseng is the right choice. In addition to ginseng root, its fibrous root, leaf, flower, fruit and stem can be the cheaper alternatives to use as a tea. It should be noted that TCM regards ginseng as a strong tonic, and is contraindicated in some situations, such as the early stages of cold and flu, excessive throat secretions, thick and greasy tongue coating, skin sores, diarrhea and indigestion.

Reishi mushroom tea
Simmer the herb(10g) with 400ml of water for 20 minutes and when cool, add honey (20g). Reishi mushroom has a bitter taste, and is a popular anti-aging ingredient. TCM use it for situations like insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, chronic coughing, and indigestion. Modern research shows that it has calming and pain killing effects.

Pulse-activating drink
Boil ginseng (3g), dwarf lily-turf tuber (10g) and schisandra (10g), with 3000ml water for 2 hours. Keep the solution warm and drink regularly during the day. This is a classic TCM formula which can replenish qi (vital energy), stabilize blood circulation, nourish the body and calm the mind. It is suitable for people who suffer from restless sleep, frequent dreams, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue and mouth dryness.

Pulse-activating drink

Walnut milk
Fry or bake walnut (30g) and black sesame (20g) slightly and put a food processor; pour in cow's milk (180ml) and soybean milk (180ml), stir the ingredients thoroughly, then simmer over a low fire for 10 minutes. Separate the milk into two lots, one for morning and evening. This healthy milk is suitable for elderly people or during recovery from illness, and particularly benefits those with insomnia, dizziness and a weak lumbar spine.

Liquorice, wheat and jujube drink
Boil liquorice root (10g), shriveled wheat (30g) and common jujube fruit (10 pieces) with 1500 ml of water for one hour. Keep the solution warm and separate it for 2 to 3 times a day. This is a classic TCM formula for treating nervous breakdowns. TCM uses this prescription to relieve problems like insomnia, palpitations, irritability, sadness, frequent yawning and night sweating, which is claimed to be due to heart under-functioning, blood and yin deficiencies, or liver qi stagnation.

In addition to herbal teas or drinks, TCM also use herbal syrups and wines to promote sleep.

Albizia flower Lotus plumule Common rush