Friday, April 1, 2011

88 Treasures Tea (八十八寶茶)

A week ago, while browsing the tea aisle at 99 Ranch Market in Kent, a little red box of tea caught my eye. It was called 八十八寶茶 or 88 Treasures Tea, and I could see that it was from a tea company based out of Xining (西寧), China. It didn't cost too much so I decided to give it a try. In the least, it would make a good blog post.

You may already know that ba bao cha (eight treasure tea) is very popular in Xining. Eight is considered a lucky number to the Chinese and so the blend will always contains eight ingredients.

I looked closer at the package in my hand... and, sure enough, this blend appears to actually contain 88 ingredients!

I knew it would take me a hundred years to translate the packaging on my own, so I asked a Chinese friend who sometimes visits me at Teacup. He took the box home and then emailed me his translation a couple days later.

Here's what it says: "New Organic 88 treasure tea is the perfect, healthy gift for dad! Our unique blend of herbs and teas contains eleven times the power and longevity of simple eight treasures! Our tea is good for the prostate and vitality. Give dad the gift of life and great taste!"

The box even has a little picture of a young man giving a cup of tea to an older man printed above the product name. At this point it dawned on me that the 88 also appeals to the Chinese love of puns, because 88 and dad can both be pronounced "Ba Ba" in Mandarin. (That's why Chinese father's day is August 8th.)

So what's in the blend you ask? Here's the list that I was given:
Chrysanthemum, Astragalus, Wolf Berry, Jujube, Ginseng root, Tuckahoe, Tangerine Peel, Danshen, Snake Gourd Seed, Star Anise, Common Squill Bulb, Horsetail, Longstamen, Common Smoketree, Fritillary, Wax Gourd Peel, Sweet Osmanthus Flower, Dogbane Leaf, Rock Sugar, Ginko, Pricklyash Peel, Elm bark, Chamomile, Rosehips, Towel Gourd Stem, Raspberry leaf, Korean Monkshood, Loquat Leaf, Papaya leaf, Peppermint, Shanlu Tea, Spearmint, Drug Sweetflag Rhizome, Raisin, Oak Bark, Strawberry Leaf, Bat Guano, Vanilla, Passionflower, Kelp, Red Clover, Wild Cherry Bark, Rhubarb, Peony, Sand Root, Licorice Root, Damiana, Goldthread, Ma Huang, Hyssop, Candied Hawthorn, Stinging Nettle, Dong Quai, Lemon Peel, Puer Tea, Wintergreen, Tuberous Sword Fern, Lavender, Lemongrass, Bombax Flower, Ginger Root, Nux Vomica, Elder Flowers, African Plum, Salvia, Japanese Climbing Fern Spore, Nine Winter Monkey Tea, Echinacea, Marshmallow, Fermented Yarrow Flower, Clove, Lycopene, Water Vapor, Gut Flora, Selenium, Nut Husk, Saw Palmetto, Balloon Flower Root, Gypsum, Zinc, Snow Lotus, Urea, Dandelion, Valerian, Linear Stonecrop, Mustard Seed, Wooly Datchmanspipe, and Green Tea!

Here's what it all looks like:

I steeped it for five minutes in a small ceramic teapot (Chip to be precise) using boiling hot water...

...and here's the result:

So what does it taste like you ask? It's very sweet, with an odd metallic note and a surprisingly mild finish. The most noteworthy flavors were mud and syrup. I did pick up a little bit of gingery-heat in my throat about an hour after drinking.

As for the health benefits of imbibing so many exotic herbs... I really can't make any firm declarations. I feel a little bit light-headed and sweaty and my pee has never looked darker.

I probably won't drink 88 Treasures Tea again.


Gingko said...

Very interesting! It seems a enlarged version of "8 treasures tea", which usually includes chrysanthemum, Pang Da Hai, hawthorn, rock sugar, etc., all included in this one.

But usually the "8 treasures tea" doesn't have such dark color. Actually the box and the liquor color both look very much like a cough syrup of mine. I wonder if they added some cough syrup to this tea :D

Anonymous said...

This is something I might not actually try. It violates one of my tea/tisane rules of thumb - Don't drink anything with bat guano as an ingredient.

Are you sure this is not an April Fool's posting given you posted this April first?


Gingko said...

Yeah! Was it a April 1 joke? I was so curious about it and today I clicked the first photo to enlarge it, and found even the brand name is the same as my cough syrup. Everything the same, except the product name :-D

Bryan said...

If your pee is dark, that might be a sign of kidney trouble. Just sayin'.
Be careful and enjoy your tea, Cousin.

-The Green Poet