How to Cook Chinese Herbs

Herb Pot
Ceramic pot for cooking Chinese Herbs

Cooking Chinese herbs is easy.  But it does take some time.  Many people like to take the time to cook herbs as it gives them an opportunity to take part in their healing process.

It is good to get a Chinese herbal pot.  You can buy a ceramic Chinese Herb cooking pot for under $10 or you can use an electric Chinese herb cooking pot, which costs about $50-80.

If you cannot find a ceramic pot use glass or pyrex.

I would recommend against stainless steel because I have seen it become stained from herbs.  Also, metals may interact with the properties of the herbs.

Cooking Instructions for Chinese herbs:

Each packet of herbs is for one day. It is called double cooking because you boil the herbs twice and combine the tea from both batches to drink.
Cooking instructions:

1. The First Cook: Place herbs from one packet in a pot. You may use stainless steel, glass, or a ceramic herb pot like the one in the picture above. Push the herbs down as there may be some grassy or leafy herbs taking up a lot of space in the pot. Fill
with water to just cover the herbs. The amount of water will vary depending on the size of the formula.

a. Let the herbs soak in the water for 20 minutes before turning the stove on.
b. Bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes.
c. Remove liquid from the pot and place in mug or a jar. Keep the
herbs in the pot for the second cook.

2. The Second Cook: Add more water to the herbs, enough to just cover them.
a. Bring to boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Drinking: Combine tea from batch 1 with the tea from batch 2. Drink half in AM and half in PM about 20 minutes after eating.

Cooking times may vary depending upon the particular instructions from your acupuncturist or herbalist.  For example, for herbs for colds, you may cook it for a shorter period of time.  But if you are using strong herbs to boost the energy in the body, you may cook it for a longer period of time.

Sometimes you cook certain herbs for a longer time in the beginning, or you may add herbs very close to the end of the cooking process.  This helps to accentuate specific properties of each herb.

Photo: Tianyake

Joseph Alban

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.

Joseph Alban is a Doctor of Acupuncture, New York Licensed Acupuncturist, and NCCAOM Board Certified Herbalist providing the highest quality Acupuncture and Chinese medicine care tailored to your needs.

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