Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Tea You Must Take With You On Your Travels

hor yan hor gold herbal tea packet malaysia
Ho Yan Hor Gold Herbal Tea ...the tea I take on my travels! 

Here's one of those quick Chinese herbal remedies that I always carry around with me, especially if I am going to go on a trip.

It's Ho Yan Hor Herbal Tea.

Unlike some bloggers who are paid to tout the benefits of a certain product (and review the product but say all sorts of super nice things about the product), I hereby declare that I am not one of them. I don't know any of the directors of this company, I am in no way linked to them and I am not getting any commission for spreading the good word about their herbal teas.

I am writing as an avid drinker of their Chinese herbal teas.

While most people will take flu medicine, Panadol and all matter of tablets and pills on a trip, I will bring along a few packets of this tea.

Travelling (even domestic travel) can take a toll on the body. Sometimes you drink less water, eat more (or shall I say, gorge more since everything looks fabulously delicious when you're on a holiday) and sleep late. Or you're up early and walking the entire day and forget that that's not your usual routine.

Sometimes the weather turns chilly. Or turns warmer. All these get my body up in arms. My body doesn't like it when I travel so I prepare the most natural remedy to "balance" out my body constitution. Hence, I bring along a couple of these instant herbal tea packets.

It's been a lifesaver for some friends too. Once I travelled with a friend and her husband and he ended up having a flu the day we reached the hotel. Luckily I had some of this Ho Yan Hor herbal tea packets.

Ho Yan Hor & I Go Way Back

I've been drinking Ho Yan Hor since I was a teenager.

When I was in my teens, I had lots of problems like gastritis, migraine and worst of all, bouts of awful flu. Ho Yan Hor used to be my "tea" of choice back then.

I also had issues with "heatiness" all the time (I wonder why) so Ho Yan Hor used to be my companion. I was once so heaty I developed typhoid fever.

Of course Western-trained doctors would pooh-pooh the idea - why would heatiness cause typhoid fever? But if you've been brought up in a Cantonese household with a grandma and a mum who believed in Chinese cures for ailments, heatiness it was!

That would be another interesting story to tell because one of the remedies for the early stage typhoid fever - at least according to folklore and my grandma - was to roll a peeled, hard-boiled egg over the body to get rid of heat.

The other remedy is to "gua sa" where my grandma would use a Chinese porcelain soup spoon to "scrape" the back of the neck and shoulders to remove heat. Having typhoid fever is no fun because one is sleepy, tired all the time, heated up plus have no appetite.

That is why I am now very careful about balancing my diet and eating with the season (not that there's much of a season in Malaysia - it's a regular tropical climate all year).

Why I Need My Herbal Teas & Herbal Soups

But when the weather's blistering hot, I avoid deep-fried food and I drink lots of cooling teas like chrysanthemumself heal tea, dried sugar cane tea and Buddha fruit. On days when I have no time to boil these cooling herbal teas, I resort to the convenient stuff like Ho Yan Hor tea.

(Or try lotus root soup, watercress soup or old cucumber soup if you have the time and inclination to make some homemade soups.)

Ho Yan Hor tea is produced in Ipoh, Malaysia so don't you believe some silly articles telling you that Ho Yan Hor is from Korea. Korea my foot.

The company, Hovid, is today a listed company involved in pharmaceuticals besides manufacturing Ho Yan Hor tea (available in Gold, Regular and Night). Ho Yan Hor Gold is a little pricier than the regular Ho Yan Hor. A little market segmentation I suppose catering to people who want a premium product.

According to their website (which I can't help but critique as totally unprofessional with unclear images and lacking quality information and that's the website content strategist in me coming out), Ho Yan Hor is a formulation of 24 herbs by Dr. Ho Kai Cheong to "relieve body heatiness, nausea, indigestion and waning appetite". In those post-World War Two times, this was probably the easiest means to keep one's body healthy.

If you check the supermarkets, there is also a Ho Yan Hor Night Tea which are in blue packs instead of green. Cooling teas should never be drunk at night so if you're going to imbibe some herbal tea, drink them in the day, such as in the afternoons. Some people may also have difficulty falling asleep if they drink teas in the evenings. I, for one, have no such issues as I can drink tea and fall asleep. However, I suspect Ho Yan Hor Night Tea has a different herb combination.

How To Brew Ho Yan Hor Tea

Ho Yan Hor tea can be a tad thick once you immerse the whole bag into a mug of boiling water. I usually reuse the tea bag for a second, more diluted round of tea. Or you could put the tea bag into a small kettle. Drink it throughout the day but don't overdo it.

The tea is more palatable and smoother now, thanks to R&D over the years. Originally it had a little bitter aftertaste as with most herbal concoctions but as any good old fashioned Cantonese will tell you, the more bitter the tea, the better it is for your body.

I grew up drinking bitter teas so bitterness is part of my tongue's vocabulary now. (You know those Chinese pushcart stalls which sell Chinese herbal teas? Whenever I felt a little under the weather, I'd go and order a glass of herbal tea made with this bitter powder. I'd feel instantly better when I gulped down the entire bitter drink. Yes, I am a bit mad like that.)

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