You’re very well acquainted with fruit teas. Westerners consume flavors of tea from apple and orange to peach and pomegranate. But what about longan? Have you ever tried longan tea?
Longan tea is also called dragon’s eye tea, and it’s a flavor that’s popular in regions of Asia like China and Vietnam. In this guide we will discuss what you need to know about longan tea and its many supposed health benefits.
What’s a Longan?
A longan is more commonly referred to as dragon’s eye in regions where it grows natively. The fruit is usually found in areas surrounding China. Cambodia, Taiwan, India and Sri Lanka are a few of these – the dragon’s eye fruit was first found there.
But as the fruit has gained in popularity, it’s cultivated just about everywhere. Australians farm the fruit, as do farmers in Africa, South America and even some parts of the United States. There are longan farms in Hawaii (also home to Mamaki Tea), California and Florida.
So why’s longan tea called dragon’s eye? The outer layer of the longan fruit looks very similar to an orange peel that’s unripe and old, mottled with a greenish brown color. But when you snap open the shell, you’ll see a white, translucent, almost luminescent fruit. Cut that in half and there’s a black pit inside.
In other words, a halved longan fruit looks similar to what you might imagine a dragon’s eye might look like.
Benefits of Longan Tea
One of the reasons longan has become so popular in recent years is that it’s said to have some incredible health benefits. So, it follows that longan tea has great health benefits as well.
Longans are high in vitamin C, which means they’re great for boosting the immune system. Vitamin C is also great for your skin – it’s an antioxidant and, while this hasn’t been fully researched, may help minimize the damage from UV rays.
Longans, and longan tea, are also high in iron. That means they help your circulation and blood health, and help to prevent anemia. That circulatory health is also good for your cardiovascular system, strengthening your heart and your blood vessels.
Longan tea is said to have other benefits as well. A few of these are:
- It’s an anti-inflammatory, which may be beneficial to people with arthritis, fibromyalgia and other conditions.
- Traditional Chinese medicine has used longan to strengthen the liver, spleen and kidneys.
- Longan tea is calming, in a similar way to chamomile. That may help with respiration, insomnia and anxiety.
- The fruit is high in vitamin A, meaning your eye and skin health will benefit.
Where Can You Find Longan Tea?
If you happen to be visiting the regions of Asia we listed earlier, there’s a good chance you’ll find longan tea in restaurants and specialty shops. If you’re not headed that far out of town, you can possibly find it locally.
The first place you should look for longan tea is your local Asian shop. The stores typically sell longans – sometimes fresh but usually dried. They’ll also sell pre-packaged longan tea. We’ll look at a recipe for longan tea later, but for now, buy the dried longans. (Feel free to also buy a few fresh ones to taste!)
If you can’t find an Asian food store, just check Amazon. A simple search for “longan” will result in all manner of products for sale, from longan-date tea to the fruit itself, dried and sold in bulk.
Longan fruit is tasty when it’s fresh. Its texture is similar to a grape’s, and the flavor is musky and earthy. There’s a unique balance between sweet and sour that’s distinctive to longan fruit.
But when you want longan tea, you’ll need the dried fruit. Look for that in the store, or if you’re searching on Amazon, read the package ingredients. Again, there are many blends sold online, so be sure you’re buying only this fruit.
What You Need to Know about Longan Tea
We covered the basics of the nutrients in dragon’s eye, and you know that there are tons of health benefits. But there are a couple drawbacks, too.
First of all, the fruit is very high in sugar. If you’re diabetic or otherwise need to watch your sugar intake, ask your doctor how much longan tea is safe for you to drink.
Secondly, remember that longan is native to Asia. That said, if you’re getting your dried fruit for your longan tea anywhere else, it’s likely to be sprayed with insecticides, pesticides and other chemicals. For the best health, choose longan that’s from a place where the fruit is grown naturally.
How to Make Longan Tea
Making longan tea is really just as simple as boiling some water. A search for how to make longan tea will bring back dozens of results, but those just account for personal preference. When you make your longan tea, we recommend you start with the basics them experiment with flavors.
To make longan tea, first choose your favorite “plain” tea bag, either black or green tea. Then heat your water to the appropriate temperature for your tea.
Place four to 5 dried longan in the bottom of your cup, as well as your black or green tea bag. Then, pour hot water over the ingredients. Allow your tea to steep for just a few minutes, enough to rehydrate your longan.
At this point, you have a few options. You can either strain your tea or you may choose to drink it with the longan fruit still inside. Chinese Traditional medicine says that eating the longan fruit will give you the maximum health results.
You may also choose to sweeten your longan tea with sugar, raw sugar or honey. That’s up to you – just sweeten to taste. The seed in the longan fruit is edible, but you may choose to discard it.
Again, there are many “recipes” for longan tea available online. You can choose to add what you like to your tea. Some common options are red dates, goji berries, ginger and lemon. Some people even add egg to their longan tea!