This red date longan tea is cozy and non-caffeinated, perfect for a cold winter night!
This drink gets most of its flavor from the red dates (also known as jujubes) and longan, as well as some ginger.
Dried fruit is so much more concentrated than their fresh or canned forms, so this isn’t the time to bring out your grandma’s fresh homegrown longan. Go to the Chinese grocery store or one of those Chinese medicine shops, and pick up the dried stuff.
I haven’t had luck finding dried longan at any other Asian market, so I’d recommend going to a Chinese grocery store, or looking online.
The red dates are super sweet, and they add the most sweetness to the tea. This is also what gives the tea its color!
If you have leftover red dates you’re not sure what to do with, might I suggest this lotus seed and snow fungus tong4 seoi2? It’s another cozy Chinese style dessert soup along the same vibe.
The longan, if you’re not familiar with the flavor, is almost honey tasting, albeit not as sweet. The most similar fruit I’ve tasted to a longan is lychee, although their exterior skins differ.
Dried longan looks like a golden raisin, but after getting rehydrated, it plumps and resembles its fresh form a lot more.
The ginger is optional. That being said, I like the gentle spice it adds, which also helps keep the tea from tasting too sweet.
How to Make
This might be one of the easiest recipes on this site. Throw the ingredients into a pot, boil, and enjoy.
In a large pot, add the dried dates, longan, ginger, salt, sugar and water.
I’d recommend peeling and chopping the ginger roughly if you’re using it to allow the tea to take on more ginger flavor, but otherwise there isn’t any prep that you absolutely need to do for the dates or longan.
You can chop up the dates or the longan if you want the tea to steep more quickly, or if you’re planning on straining out the fruit before serving. And if you want to save yourself/your family the hassle of removing the jujube pits later, you can be nice and do that now.
Not necessary though!
Anyways, the dates are so sweet already that you don’t need much sugar. I like adding a little bit of brown sugar, more for the caramelly notes that it contributes rather than sweetness.
The mixture gets boiled until the dates and longan are plump, and the tea is a dark reddish brown color. Nothing needs to get cooked through, so it’s a little flexible with the timing and determining whether or not the tea is done.
I’d recommend tasting it, and adding sugar if necessary, or maybe even extra water should you find the flavor too intense. You can also cook the tea longer if it’s a little bland.
Turn off the heat and serve the tea hot!
I typically have this hot, but you can serve it at room temperature or cold instead.
Also, your call if you want to include the dates, longan and ginger in your cup. I like a little snack in my drinks (grapefruit green tea, anyone?), but strain them out if you don’t want to munch on them mid-sip.
You can definitely scale this up or down if needed. I like to make a big batch so that I can store it in the fridge and sip throughout the week, but feel free to half or even quarter this recipe.
The measurements are more of a guideline than a strict rule, so don’t be concerned if you’re trying to accurately measure 1/12 cup of dried fruit.
Again, this drink is pretty sweet from the natural sugars within the dried dates/jujubes, so there isn’t much extra sugar you need to add.
You could sub in rock or palm sugar for the brown sugar, or even a little honey, since all three of those alternatives lend flavor to the soup without tasting like plain sweetness.
You can even omit any sugar, brown, rock or otherwise.
- ⅓ cup dried red dates
- ⅓ cup dried longan
- 2.5 inch piece ginger peeled and roughly chopped, optional
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 8 cups water
Add everything to a large pot and cover it.
Place over medium to medium high heat, and let boil for 30-45 minutes, or until the longan are re-hydrated and the water is now brown in color. I’d recommend tasting at this point; add more sugar if you want a sweeter tea, or add some extra hot water to dilute if the tea is too strong.
Remove the tea from the heat and serve hot.
You can strain out the dates, longan and ginger before serving if you would like.
Feel free to sub in rock sugar or even omit any added sugar.