Danielle Chang pours Chrysanthemum Elixir
Summertime is here again, and we’re already sweating—and not just because it’s hot!
Every year around this time, folks start talking about going on a “summer detox,” but what does that mean, and how can one simplify their life and diet in a way that’s healthy and ultimately helpful?
We spoke to food culture entrepreneur Danielle Chang, who recently launched herbal remedy brand The Hao Life, to learn how traditional Chinese medicine defines a detox and how folks can incorporate that holistic approach into their own lives.
“A detox should never be fast,” she says. “A detox is eating as much healthy foods as you want, and that just means what's in season. There are certain things that will help you detox, which means to help digest or break down foods, but if what you're putting in your body is healthy to begin with, it just makes everything run more smoothly.”
Chang explained that in Chinese medicine, foods are broken into two categories: yin and yang, masculine and feminine, heating or cooling. In the summer, when the weather is warm, Chinese medicine teaches practitioners to ingest more cooling foods—and that isn’t just about temperature.
Below, we share three recipes for cooling, or yin-leaning, refreshments. The below recipes create alcoholic cocktails, but you could easily remove the alcohol or substitute with a non-alcoholic, non-flavored seltzer to create a family-friendly beverage.
Goji berries are an important part of The Hao Life’s Come Clean herbal formula, which is the company’s go-to detoxifying blend. They’re also a sweet touch, as are red dates, while the hawthorn berries add a tart balance.
Directions: Rehydrate the goji berries, red dates and hawthorn berries, then add to an infusion container. Add vodka of choice to top, seal tight, and leave to rest for 2 to 3 days minimum or longer to intensify the plummy flavor.
Chrysanthemum is one of Chang’s go-to summer ingredients, as Chinese medicine teaches that they are great for balancing the kidneys and detoxifying the liver. She often uses the flowers to create a tea, but in this recipe, she uses them to create a delightful vodka cocktail.
Directions: Steep one cup of dried chrysanthemum flowers (rinsed and pre-soaked for 10 minutes, then wrung of any excess water). Add the chrysanthemums to an infusion container. Add your vodka of choice to the top of the jar and seal tight. Leave in a dark, cook place and shake every two days or so. The infusion is ready to drink in just a few days, or you can let it steep longer.
“This make-ahead punch features four distinct tastes—sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter—coming from the fruits, flowers, honey and aromatics that fill the punch bowl,” Chang says. “Citrus fruits are a must at Lunar New Year celebrations, as they symbolize luck and fertility. For the garnish, try a mix of clementines, lemons, and kumquats.”
This recipe serves eight. Please leave 40 minutes to create the punch, and 24 hours time for the shochu infusion and chrysanthemum ice cubes to set. The shochu infusion can be made up to 1 week ahead if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Chrysanthemum Ice Cubes
Chrysanthemum Ice Cubes
Assemble the Cocktail
Note: To prepare cucumber water, mix 2 cups water with 2 cups lightly smashed Persian cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Strain before using.
Visit The Hao Life online to learn more about traditional Chinese medicine and how holistic herbal practices could fit into your daily routine.
Photography by: Courtesy of Danielle Chang