Beat the heat: Three tasty brews to keep hydrated and boost immunity

Stay hydrated with cooling brews which you can easily rustle up at home. ST PHOTOS: HEDY KHOO
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SINGAPORE – While more rain can be expected to temper the searing heat of May, the daily maximum temperature is likely to hover at between 33 and 35 deg C.

Hotter and drier months are also expected in the second half of the year, thanks to the El Nino weather phenomenon, which will usher in warmer ocean temperatures across the Pacific.

Stay hydrated with cooling brews which you can easily rustle up at home.

Chinese physician Cheong Chin Siong, 48, recommends three infusions: Winter Melon Tea, Detox And Immunity-boosting Tea and Heat-dispelling Tea.

They can be served hot, warm or chilled. Cool down the brews, strain, then pour into clean bottles. Store them in the fridge for up to a week.

These brews are meant for people with no health issues and not advisable for pregnant women.

1. Winter Melon Tea

Figs and dates give the winter melon tea a natural sweetness. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), winter melon is believed to help with detoxing and dispelling heat. It also helps to hydrate the throat and skin. Figs and honey dates are believed to help moisturise the lungs.

This Winter Melon Tea – unlike Taiwanese winter melon tea (, which involves making a concentrate with brown sugar – harnesses the natural sweetness of figs, honey dates and dates.

I use chilled figs from Turkey. You can also use dried figs, which typically come from Iran. If you are using dried figs, use about 20 of them.

When cooked, the winter melon pulp is a tasty textural addition to the brew. But I prefer to press and strain the winter melon, retaining only the liquid, which makes for a refreshing thirst-quencher.

I usually boil 2kg of winter melon at a go, which yields about 4.5 litres of tea. I consume this over four to five days.

If you want to make less, use 1kg of winter melon, eight to 10 red dates, three honey dates, five chilled figs or eight dried ones, 20g of dried lily bulbs and 2.3 litres of water. The cooking time is the same.

Ingredients for Winter Melon Tea. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO


2kg winter melon
10 red dates
7 honey dates
9 chilled figs or 20 dried figs
30g dried lily bulbs
4.3 litres of water


Slice the winter melon into cubes. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

1. Wash and slice the winter melon into 3cm by 3cm cubes.

2. Wash the red dates and halve them with a pair of scissors. Rinse them again and set aside.

3. Rinse the honey dates, chilled figs and dried lily bulbs. Cut the chilled figs into halves. The dried figs can be used whole.

4. In a large pot, add the ingredients and the water.

Place all the ingredients for winter melon tea in a large pot. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

5. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

6. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 50 minutes.

7. Serve it hot, or allow the mixture to cool.

Chill the Winter Melon Tea for a refreshing thirst-quencher. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

8. Strain and store in bottles to chill in the fridge.

Serves eight

2. Detox And Immunity-Boosting Tea

Detox And Immunity-boosting Tea. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

This tea contains jin yin hua (honeysuckle), which are the dried flower buds of the Lonicera japonica, believed to have detoxifying properties. They are said to be able to help in the treatment of heat rash.

But the 2012 book, Your Guide To Health With Foods & Herbs, by TCM academics Zhang Yifang and Yao Yingzhi, cautions that those who have weak constitutions, especially stomach issues, should avoid honeysuckle.

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Another addition, pu gong ying (dandelion), is believed to help dispel heat and aid detoxification.

The recipe also contains bei qi (astragalus root), said to tonify the lungs and boost immunity; as well as dried mandarin orange peel, said to help in strengthening the stomach.

Mr Cheong says: “Nutrition is part of boosting your immunity. Maintaining a healthy digestive system is important so that your body can absorb nutrients from food for good health.”

He advises against eating raw, spicy and deep-fried foods to prevent stomach upsets, and recommends taking the Detox And Immunity-boosting Tea twice a week after meals.


Ingredients for the Detox And Immunity-boosting Tea. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

20g pu gong ying (dandelion)
10g jin yin hua (honeysuckle)
10g bei qi (astragalus root)
8g gan cao (licorice root)
5g chen pi (dried mandarin orange peel)
1.5 litres of water


1. Rinse all the ingredients twice and place in a colander or sieve to remove excess water.

2. Place the ingredients in a pot.

3. Add the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow the tea to cool before drinking.

Serves two to three

3. Heat-dispelling Tea

Heat-dispelling Tea. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

This tea features xia gu cao (prunella spike) and dried chrysanthemum flowers – both of which are used in TCM to dispel heat.

This concoction is palatable because of the addition of luohan guo (monk fruit), which lends a natural sweetness without the calories. Take this twice a week after meals.


Ingredients for Heat-dispelling Tea. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

2 large luohan guo (monk fruit, 70g)
20g xia gu cao (prunella spike)
50g dried chrysanthemum flowers
8g gan cao (licorice root)
10g jin yin hua (honeysuckle)
3 pieces of sang ye (mulberry leaf)
2 litres of water


1. Break the luohan guo into small pieces.

2. Rinse the xia gu cao thoroughly.

3. Rinse the dried chrysanthemum flowers, gan cao, jin yin hua and sang ye thoroughly.

4. Place all the ingredients and water in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Allow tea to steep and cool before serving.

Serves four

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