It is an established fact that we are living in a country known for its hot weather all year round because of our geographical location near the equator and on some days, the temperature can shoot up to 37°C, which can be quite unbearable. Although in some months, we expect rains almost every day, but it doesn’t helps when 70% of our days we have to deal with the heat. For some reasons due to the weather, we do experience symptoms like heat rashes on our skin, pimples, ulcers, dry skins and warm body even when we are out of the heat. There are months where we get affected by severe smoke haze because of forest fires in other country; it gets even worse with not just the weather that makes you sweat but also an unbreathable air that could choke all of us. And common ailments like cough, headaches and even breathing problems – especially asthmatic patients will start to surface out.
In general, individuals deal with situation like this differently. Some of them embrace the sun and did lots of outdoor activities because that is something they like. For others, they may choose to stay indoors at home or malls to do whatever activities that deems fit for them like shopping, having meals with family or friends or watch movies because of the air-conditioned environment.While doing so, some might grab a thirst quencher before continuing with their activities.Stalls that sell bubble tea and desserts get patrons all year round while some may just grab and go with them a chilled drink, ice creams or pre-packed desserts from supermarkets or convenience stores. Those health-conscious individuals will bring water bottles with them or get herbal teas from stalls. The more reasons we should fuel up during the hot season because the variety of choices and you don’t want to get dehydrated that can lead to a heat stroke. But remember to release through urination because it helps to dispel heat from our body.
But what about those who get lazy under the sun and choose to stay at home? Turning on your air-con might seem to be the best solutions but think about your utility bill. Yes, drinking plain water is what most of us are doing but it can be boring at times as you might need a sugar-fix or something that can add flavours to your drink. What about some homemade beverages and desserts? My parents recommended and taught me those basic and convenience ones, which I am going to share. However, please try according to your body constitution.
Ho Yan Hor Herbal Tea
Instruction: Pour hot water in a stainless steel mug and let the teabag seep for 5 minutes, just like any other teas. Let it cool down to lukewarm before drinking. Sometimes, I will add a teabag of Wan Ying Gan He tea for a stronger concoction suggested by my mum. You can add another round of hot water until the taste fades off. Drink it warm or chilled.
This was introduced to me by my parents since young and because I don’t like to drink so always being reminded and reinforced the benefits of this tea by them. Many of us may think that it is bitter but actually is a smooth soothing taste. Now after married, this has become part of my life because made into teabag form, it is convenience to have it even on the move. My husband also agrees that it helped in dispelling heat from his body effectively. Tried and tested. Moreover, with almost a century of history since in 1940s, Ho Yan Hor herbal tea is one of the best alternative to Western medicine because of the 23 chosen herbs specially to formulate the unique concoction that gives individuals a fast relief from common colds too.
When headaches or heatiness comes haunting me down, my solution will be having this tea as it takes effect almost immediately through detoxing and soon, headache went off in a few hours before you know – at least for me. For ladies, please note that you shouldn’t drink more than 2 – 3 cups because it will be too cooling for our womb.
Luo Han Guo (Siraitia Grosvenorii) Drink
Instruction: Wash the outer layer of the fruit and break into half. Place 1.5 litres of water and fruit into a pot and boil over the heat. Let the flavour comes out its own. Based on my experience, using one Luo Han Guo can make up to 2 litres of the drink if you boil another round of water until the sweetness fades off. My mum also recommended putting a handful of Chrysanthemum flowers to add flavour and for its cooling effect too. Drink it warm or chilled.
Luo Han Guo, also known as Monk Fruit or Siraitia Grosvenorii is a dried fruit that produced generally in Guangxi, China and was hailed as longevity fruit. It has natural sweetness, which is low in calorie, hence can act as a sweetener. Not only that, it benefits us through moisturizing our lungs and relieving from cough. Usually I will boil this drink whenever I need a change from the usual. Since it is beneficial to our health, it doesn’t matter what condition am I at the moment so long as it is better than having a cold drink. Whenever there is balance, I will bottle it up to drink over a few days. The colour resemblances Ho Yan Hor Herbal Tea so don’t get mix up.
Instruction: Place 1.5 litres of water, a handful (about 50g) of dried chrysanthemum flowers into a stock pouch and put to simmer over the heat till the fragrance and colour comes out. In the midst of simmering, gradually add rock sugar cubes to taste. Drink it warm or chilled. My mum once told me that it works fine even without sugar too.
In Chinese restaurants, this tea is the most commonly served and we usually have a cup or two after a meal to help with digestion. The benefits of Chrysanthemum tea are widely known in relieving heat and removing toxins from our body; and treats headache, giddiness and, red and swollen eyes too. These are some symptoms that you will experience under the hot and humid weather.
You may want to try adding Wolfberries to help improve vision and protecting our liver. Another one to try is adding American Ginseng and not only it reduces body heat but also keeps one to stay mentally alert, especially those who study or work overnight. However, avoid having the tea with wolfberries if you are taking any blood thinning medicines.
Honey Rock Sugar Drink
Instruction: Pour of hot water in a stainless steel mug and put a cube or two (depending on the size of rock sugar). Let it melt on its own without stirring. Depending on the size of rock sugar, the bigger the sweeter so taste it first. Drink it warm or chilled.
As we know, Honey drink has helped in flushing out the toxins from our body, keeps us hydrate and many more. Sometimes, we drink honey to relieve cough irritation. Kids will not resist having it because of its sweetness. While a bottle of decent honey can be costly, why not go for the economical Honey Rock Sugar, which works the same wonder? It is the easiest to make and does not requires additional ingredients. If you want to add some flavour, a slice of lemon can do the trick. It is one refreshing drink that you should not miss.
Grass Jelly Drink
Instruction: Cut 500g of grass jelly into thin strips and put aside. Wash pandan leaves and place in a pot with 1.5 litres of water to boil over medium heat. When you smell the fragrance from pandan leaves, add rock sugar to taste, mix well and turn off the heat. Let it cool down before adding the grass jelly as it may melt. Drink it chilled.
This drink can be found at drink stalls in food centres that sell soya bean milk and bean curd and is priced affordably. And we have seen the marriage between grass jelly and soya bean as they complement each other’s plainness through sugar syrup. Also the colour combination looks eye-catching.
My mum used to make that once awhile, knowing the need for alternatives than herbal teas if not, it will bore us out. But it will be just plain ones. So when it comes to me, I add fruits like Longan to my grass jelly as it is inspired from local dessert shop. It might taste mediocre but it gives you extra bite. Not only that, a little Longan syrup is mixed in the drink to achieve the sweetness level but, depending how sweet you want. Also some drinks stalls or dessert shops add green jelly noodles that is used in one of Singapore’s local dessert, Chendol. No more a plain Jane but an interesting and refreshing drink. I recommend trying this out at home as kids will love it because of the grass jelly.
Not recommended for pregnant women because it is too ‘cooling’ to the body.
Green Bean Soup
Instruction: Rinse and soak 200g green beans and 75g of barley separately for an hour. Put 1.5 litres of water, barley and green to boil from medium low heat to simmering for 45 minutes. Check on the texture once awhile. In the midst of cooking, gradually add rock sugar to taste and 1 tbsp pearl sago (optional). Cook for another 10 – 15 mins and turn off the heat. As suggested by the folks, you can do away with the beans and have it as a drink.
The nutritional level of green beans with frequent consumption can help to strengthen one’s body. Unlike Red Bean Soup, which has the warming effect to our body, Green Bean Soup has the cooling nature which easily causes flatulence. So those who suffer from cold-related cough, weak stomach or spleen, please consume with care.
This dessert also aids removal of toxin from our body and a good thirst quencher, perfect for this weather. I remember planting the seeds during my Primary school days for our Science subject and get so fascinated when it grows without even knowing how it benefits us.
Ginkgo Nut with Bean Curd Sheets and Barley
Instruction: Tear 100g (1 piece) bean curd sheets to small pieces. Rinse 10 ginkgo nuts, cut halves and removed bitter cores. Put 1.5 litres of water, bean curd sheets, ginkgo nuts and 2 tbsp of barley in a pot to cook over low heat for 45 minutes. In the midst of cooking (about 30 minutes), add rock sugar to taste. Continue to boil for 15 mins. When almost done, add 1 beaten egg and mix well before turning off the heat.
This is a health nourishing dessert also known as Fu Chok, which is my parents’ favourite and will cook this at home once awhile. It has the subtle sweet taste, provided you add the right amount of rock sugar. It helps to dispel toxin from our body, reduce water retention through promoting urination and most importantly, for better skin. This cannot be done without the help of ginkgo nuts, which its properties is neutral in nature and helps to nourish vital energy and build better kidneys. It is used to treat cough with phlegm and frequent urine. Furthermore, knowing how to cook this dessert expands my homemade choices and we can have a good detox this summer!
Please note that one should not have more than 10 ginkgo nuts as it can cause overdose poisoning if consume too much because of its certain toxin in it, though it is good for our body.
There are more recipes to make at home but it is for one to explore because in the fast-paced environment, one could no longer have the patience to do so at home. That is why they look for convenience alternatives such as pre-made herbal teas, drinks with preservatives and even oral supplements. Actually, it isn’t difficult to gather the ingredients and cook at home. Most of them are available at Chinese medicinal halls, traditional wet markets or supermarkets and is price affordably.
Didn’t you realize that the recipes mentioned are straightforward and that it will not cost you more than $15 per recipe, provided you don’t buy from expensive shops. Moreover, with that price, you can cook large quantity for your family and even have it over few days. This is economical and good for health. So don’t always be too reliance on pre-made products. Try it out at home and you have better control of how you want it to taste. Enjoy.
One who speaks her mind, with little boundary; Stella Chen, a Food and Lifestyle Blogger, who uses her novice photography skills to let the pictorial snippets form her tiny kingdom that spins around on food adventures, culinary arts, wanderlust and life.