Goji berries or Gou Qi Zi or wolfberries are mainly produced by two plants which are closely related – Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum.
These are perennial, deciduous woody shrubs which belong to the Solonaceae family along with tomato, eggplant and potato among other species.
The goji berry plant can reach heights of 1-3m and are mainly cultivated in China, Tibet, Mongolia and Nepal. In the last three countries, goji berries grow in the sheltered Himalayan valleys.
The flowers of goji berry plant are lavender in color and the fruits are oblong and have a bright orange-red shade. The berries are very delicate and must be carefully shaken off the vines.
A slow drying process is adopted until the berries shrivel and resemble dried raisins which are the most popular way of consuming this fruit all over the world. The Chinese who have access to the plants use the bark in medicine and leaves to make goji tea.
Goji berries are rich in various nutrients like carotenoids – zeaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene and lycopene -, polysaccharides, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and E, flavonoids, all 9 essential amino acids, dietary amounts of potassium, calcium, selenium and zinc, and other minerals like copper, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese.
What is Goji Tea?
Goji tea was first made popular in China and these days its therapeutic powers are being acknowledged all over the world.
There are many ways to make goji tea and they all provide various health benefits. The traditional Chinese version does not use any tea at all. Instead, a handful of ripe goji berries are steeped in boiling water for a little while. The water is then drunk and the berries eaten.
Newer versions use traditional tea.
For this, you can use a tea bag of choice, boil a cup of water, and add the tea bag and handful of goji berries. Let it steep for about 10 minutes. Then strain the tea, remove the berries and add a sweetener of choice which is optional. A vanilla crème stevia gives a delicious extra sweet flavor.
Benefits of Goji Tea
So, what benefits do we get from goji tea? We have seen the various nutrients found in goji berries. Drinking goji tea can provide us with the health benefits of these nutrients. Amino acids found in goji tea have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
It has dietary fibers, which makes us feel full for longer and help with weight loss. The sugars in goji tea are complex carbohydrates.
Some limited studies have shown that goji berries have anti-oxidant properties, which have anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. They also control blood glucose levels and are said to have hypoglycemic properties. They can protect the immune system, improve eyesight and can protect the liver.
The Chinese have used the various parts of the goji berry plant to prevent cancer, hepatitis, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, thrombosis, male infertility and as a remedy for the eyes, kidneys and lungs. It is said to have calming effects and anti-aging properties for which it is highly valued.
A 15-day study conducted on the benefits of goji berries was published in 2008. In this, one group was given goji berries. After 15 days, they were found to have increased energy levels, better athletic performance, improved sleep patterns, overall health and happiness improved due to a reduction in stress and fatigue.
Their gastrointestinal functions improved. In the placebo group, there was no such significant change except in improvement in heartburn and happiness.
They study concluded that consuming any goji product for 14 days can increase feelings of well-being and energy levels. Further studies are required.
Goji Tea Recipes
Apart from the usual way of making goji tea, here are 2 other recipes.
Hibiscus and Goji tea benefits diabetic patients.
- Water – 8 cups
- Dried goji berries – ¼ cup
- Hibiscus flowers – ¼ cup
- Honey or agave nectar – 3 tbsp
- Cinnamon sticks – 2
- Ice cubes
- Orange – 1 cut it into 8 wedges
- Lemon – 1 cut it into 8 wedges
Boil the water, remove from fire and add hibiscus flowers, goji berries, cinnamon sticks and nectar or honey. Steep for at least 25 minutes, then whisk the mixture briskly and strain into 8 glasses filled with ice.
Add 1 orange and 1 lemon wedge to each glass, squeeze a little juice into the tea and serve chilled. The remaining mixture can be stored for 1 day in the refrigerator.
Red dates and goji berry tea – This is meant to alleviate anxiety and insomnia.
- Red dates
- Dried goji berries
- Red tea
Add a handful of goji berries and dates and 2 teaspoons red tea to a teapot. Now fill it with water and bring it to the boil. Take it down from the heat and let it stand for 10-15 minutes.
The longer it stands, the stronger will be the flavor. This can be then strained and drunk all day long. It is a Chinese recipe and is said to have energizing and detoxifying effects apart from improving sleep and reducing stress levels.
Side effects caused by goji tea are minimal.
Hence, unless you have some health problem, you can consume goji tea within recommended limits. Always check with your doctor if you are taking blood thinning medications like warfarin or drugs for hypertension or diabetes.