Happy Chinese New Year!


The new moon on February 4th, 2019 ushers in the Lunar New Year,

and the Chinese New Year begins on February 5th.

To celebrate, Mayway Chinese Herbs in Oakland, CA

hosted an Open House,

and I was lucky enough to attend.

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang: Gentian formula to Drain the Liver

Mayway offered a class on different methods of decoction, or how to cook your herbal tea. The class was presented by Skye Sturgeon, DAOM. He prepared the traditional formula Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, also known as Gentian formula to Drain the Liver.

Four methods of cooking herbs

He offered four different preparation methods. Now, to review, decoctions are used for herbal blends that have more dense plant ingredients, such as roots and barks. These tougher materials require longer cooking times, in contrast to lighter ingredients such as leaves and flowers. I've always simmered my decoctions in a Pyrex glass pot on the stove. It was fascinating to see these alternative methods, and to taste & compare the results!

1. boiled

2. pressure cooker

3. Korean herb cooker

4. crock pot

Gentian is a bitter herb, so comparing these four preparations was an exercise in appreciating the bitter flavor! I was pleasantly surprised to taste that some preparations were a little more bitter, and some a little more sweet, depending on the cooking method.

Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China, 2015

Skye mentioned one of their references, the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China, which is the national code of standards on the quality of drugs. "Compiled by the Pharmacopoeia Commission of the Ministry of Public Health, this is the official and authoritative compendium of drugs, providing information on standards of purity and the strength for each drug. The CP covers 784 medicinal herbs, plant oils, and Chinese formulated medicines and 967 western medicines and preparations." (reference)

Following the cooking & tasting class, we went on a facility tour. We walked through the administrative offices of this classic manufacturing facility, through their herbal dispensary (where photography was not allowed unfortunately), and through their warehouse. Mayway occupies a large building that was formerly a Coca-Cola bottling plant, and the building retains some lovely art deco detailing. The family that owns & operates Mayway has added to the decor with beautiful Chinese wooden furniture, and some vintage tools, like this seed grinder.

Vintage Seed Grinding Tool

The herbal dispensary is organized to comply with