I thought my in-laws made up the term yeet hey until I consulted the Chinese blogging world and found that it is actually a legitimate health concept, akin to the well-known concept of qi.
Yeet hay was among the first Chinese words I learned when I met my in-laws. Everything was yeet hay back then, my kettle corn, my pizza, my favorite Kua’aina burger. I came to think yeet hay was just their way of telling me I ate too much junk food.
Their explanation of yeet hay was often lost in translation, but from what I understand it is the belief that certain foods (like deep-fried and spicy foods) create too much hot energy, which can cause everyday ailments such as sore throats, pimples, and fatigue. In other words, junk foods cause a general state of unhealthiness. But I’m learning yeet hay is actually much more than that. For example, certain fruits are yeet hay, like lychee and mango, and even certain baked goods, according to some who believe yeet hay is a conspiracy among Chinese parents.
The driving principle behind yeet hay is the balance of hot and cold energies and is actually quite genius. If you eat something with hot energy, you must counter it with something cool. Duh right? Well then why is there no western counterpart to yeet hay? We have a Coke with a burger. We medicate with NyQuil when we have a sore throat.
Whenever a sore throat or cough sneaks up on one of us, it is blamed on the yeet hay deep-fried chicken we had the night before or the jin dui we ate in excess on Chinese New Year. But not to fear, like other things, the Chinese have a tried and true remedy for the general unhealthiness caused by all things yeet hay. That miracle cure comes in the form of a an ale-colored brew of herbs, flowers and other earthly things, boiled in a cauldron and steeped to a deep brown solution.
Guk Fa Cha – Chrysanthemum Tea
Guk fa cha, a type of chrysanthemum tea, is the cureall, the cool to counteract the heat, the yin to the yang, that Popo lovingly prepares for us whenever we are feeling less than ourselves.
I too thought yeet hay and guk fa cha were Chinese wives tales of the worst variety and secretly shunned the drink while I sipped it to satisfy Popo, cautious of what mysterious Chinese herbs I was consuming. But as the years passed, little manifestations of guk fa cha’s benefits, and a bit of added sugar, began to chip away at my skepticism and somehow, I don’t know exactly when, I became a firm believer in the healing powers of guk fa cha.
How To Make Guk Fa Cha – Chrysanthemum Tea
Yield: 4 quarts (about 2 pitchers)
1 handful of each:
- Flos Chrysanthemum (dried white chrysanthemum)
- Prunella Vulgaris (ha gu cho) – heal-all diuretic, antiseptic, antiviral, and much more
- Flos Lonicerae (jin yin hua or gum nan fa) – heat clearing, detoxification
- Herba Artemisiae (yin chen hao / oriental wormwood) – normalize gallbladder and jaundice, bowel movement and diuretic
- 2-3 sticks of brown sugar candy
Note: The only essential ingredient is the dried chrysanthemum. The other herbs are ones that Popo adds for additional health benefits.
Add all ingredients to a large pot with 4 quarts of boiling water. Cook for five minutes, then add 2-3 sticks of brown sugar candy and boil for another five minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the liquid to steep for a few minutes. Strain out all the leaves and drink hot or cold.
Good for sore throats, fatigue, to counteract too much hot air, and general unhealthiness.