Even a Chinese medicine student knows Gui Zhi Tang is an really important formula. Gui Zhi is Chinese for Cinnamon Twig; Tang means ‘soup’ or ‘decoction’. It is named so because of the chief (representative) herb of the formula, Gui Zhi/Cinnamon. This formula is simple yet complex, and demonstrats the elegance of Chinese herbal formulation. I am not attempting to disseminate the theory behind this formula or its combinations, which I do not feel prepared to do as I am still exploring it as we speak, but instead will share a bit of my experience with this awesomely tasty and effective tea.
I hesitate to even call it ‘tea’. I mean, look at it! It is thick, opaque, rich. It is strong and it is definitely medicine. Food and spice medicine, at that. The experience of drinking Gui Zhi tang is not like sitting down with a cup of tea that consisted of one teaspoon of dried herbs steeped 20 minuets and strained. It’s like sipping stock, except stock is usually lighter than this tea.
Gui Zhi Tang is used for an invasion of external wind-cold due to a deficient state of bodily defense in Chinese Medicine terms. Since defenses are low for whatever reason, an illness like a cold can easily enter the body and cause typical symptoms like runny or congested nose, scratchy throat, headache and body aches (especially the back of the neck and occiput), chills or aversion to wind, fatigue and sweating.
Gui Zhi Tang is used for more than just alleviating a cold. It is used as a base formula for balancing Yin and Yang and the interior and exterior as it is itself a very balanced formula. How does it work? In brief, it balances the Wei (defensive) and Ying (nutritive) levels of the body through the actions, natures and flavors of the herbs in the formula.
- 9 g Gui Zhi, Cinnamon Twig (Cinnamomum zeylanicum). Warm, acrid and sweet. Release externally contracted wind cold.
- 9 g Bai Shao, White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora). Slightly cold, sour, sweet. Benefits Yin and contains the week nutritive qi.
- 9 g Sheng Jiang, Fresh Ginger (Zingiber officinale). Warm, acrid, sweet. Release the exterior and treat nausea and vomiting while warming the middle, directs qi downwards.
- 4-5 pieces Da Zao, Jujube Date (Ziziphus jujuba). Neutral and sweet. Helps the sour Bai Shao nourish and harmonize the nutritive qi and blood.
- 6 g Zhi Gan Cao, Honey-fried Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Warm, sweet, acrid. Harmonize the actions of the other herbs.