The Mid-Autumn Festival is the time when friends and families get together - with lanterns, with a beautiful full moon, and of course, with the delightful mooncake. Mooncakes are rich and sweet treats and pairing them with tea makes for a pleasant (and healthier) experience which also helps to wash down that ‘too-rich’ feeling.
As mooncakes are known to be high in sugar, fat and calories, overindulging can give you a sugar surge and lead to high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and maybe even indigestion. One of the ways you can enjoy your mooncakes mindfully is by choosing the right tea. This can actually help to counter the bad effects by improving digestion, and regulating blood sugar levels.
The question is, which tea should you choose? Here are my picks.
Misai Tea (also known as Java Tea)
Misai Kuching has a distinct aroma with a very pleasant taste and it is nice to pair with any mooncake that is sweet such as lotus, red bean, mung bean and durian. Misai Kuching is one of the herbs that has been extensively studied for its benefit for diabetics. Studies found that by taking Misai Kuching, blood sugar levels may be reduced significantly and it works as effectively as modern medication used in managing diabetes. It is well-known in the local (Malaysian) community, and the research by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) also show that Misai tea could help in hypertension and reduce cholesterol. So, drinking a cup of Misai tea after having your mooncake will certainly help you to regulate your blood sugar level and at the same time help you to regulate your cholesterol level. The good news is as it is widely grown in Malaysia, it is very affordable.
Pu-erh Tea (also known as aged or vintage tea)
Pu-erh is a fermented, aged tea that is produced mainly in the Yunnan province, China. Fermentation in the context of tea production involves microbial fermentation and oxidation of the tea leaves, after they have been dried and rolled. Unlike normal green tea, Pu-erh is dark brown in colour and tastes very earthy, and it helps to settle the stomach. There are many health benefits attributed to Pu-erh, and one of the more famous claims is that it aids in weight loss as it aids in digestion and the breakdown of fat. It goes well with mooncakes that contain egg yolk, nuts and also other mooncakes that tend to be on the sweeter side. It is definitely a great choice to pair with that mooncake with the super extra calories.
Peppermint is very refreshing and it is actually very beneficial to your digestive health. The main constituent is menthol, and it has been used for thousands of years to sort out a variety of digestive and gastrointestinal conditions. Peppermint tea is considered a carminative, which means that it helps to move gas through the body as it accumulates, rather than causing bloating, cramping, and stomach discomfort. The tea also stimulates bile flow to increase the rate and efficiency of digestion and promote healthy bowel movements. Moreover, is it a great choice to help to relax the body and mind. So while you spend time with your family, a cup of peppermint tea will help you to stay relaxed while reducing the bloating sensation after an indulgent bout of mooncakes.
This aromatic spicy root tea, for thousands of years, has been prized for its medicinal effects. Sipping on ginger tea after mooncake can provide you with some relief from uncomfortable digestive symptoms. A cup of warm ginger tea helps to stimulate gastric juice and aids in digestion. Apart from that, ginger tea brings you a whole host of powerful health benefits. Tea made from ginger has high levels of vitamin C and amino acids, as well as various trace elements such as calcium, zinc, sodium, phosphorus, and many others. Drinking ginger tea actually helps to manage glucose levels, improve circulation, aid digestion and assist in weight loss. You can make one cup of ginger tea by steeping a heaping teaspoon of grated unpeeled ginger root in hot water for about two minutes. You could also get organic ginger tea that will give you a more potent flavour and aroma.
Lemongrass has many beneficial medicinal properties. You can brew the tea by steeping one teaspoon of fresh or dried lemongrass in a cup of hot water, strain and it is ready! It has a unique aroma but not as pungent as ginger. A cup of nice lemongrass tea after mooncake promotes healthy digestion - it is great for conditions like indigestion, constipation, bloating and stomach spasms. Lemongrass also has anti-cholesterol and anti-atherosclerosis action so it helps to reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine, plus it helps in the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol in the blood, which in turn helps prevent atherosclerotic plaque build-up. It is definitely a good choice for those who are concerned about their cholesterol levels while wanting to enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Although these teas may help, it does not mean that you can indulge in those mooncakes – remember, enjoy everything in moderation. Drinking herbal teas on a daily basis is also an excellent disease-preventive mechanism and to support your overall health.
If you suffer from any uncomfortable symptoms after consuming one too many mooncakes, do see a healthcare professional.