Hibiscus Plum Drink or Suan Mei Tang 酸梅汤

There’s something so refreshing and consuming about staying at home on a hot summer day. Losing sense of time yet drowning in it. Cut off from your usual Starbucks refresher, here’s a soothing beverage so the only cool and tall thing that’s sweating is your glass.

Suan mei tang 酸梅汤, which directly translates to sour plum drink, has found its place by the emperor’s lawn chair and the community poolside. According to traditional Chinese medicine, its ingredients – hibiscus, orange peel, plum, licorice roots, and most notably, hawthorn – cleanse and calm your internal system, expelling heat and quenching thirst. On those hot summer nights in China, when even the bamboo-straw fans can’t cool you down, hawthorne is sure to be brewing its aroma on the kitchen stovetop. In the winter, suan mei tang makes an appearance accompanying hot or spicy meals.


  • Dried Hibiscus Roselle 25g
  • Dried hawthorn 120g
  • Dried plum 50g
  • Dried Licorice roots 5g
  • Rock candy 100 g
  • Dried orange peel 20g
  • Water 17 cups (4,000 cc)
  • Dried Osmanthus flower 1 tsp (optional)


1. Rinse hibiscus roselle, hawthorn, and licorice with tap water. Don’t let them sit, as their aromas will seep into the wash water rather than the pot.

2. Soak hibiscus roselle, hawthorn, plum, and licorice in a big pot with 17 cups of water for 30 minutes. Put in the rock candy. Then, bring them to a boil.

3. On medium low flame, simmer it for 30 minutes

4. Throw in the orange peels, simmer for 3 extra minutes. Overcooking orange peel may result bitter taste.

5. Turn off the flame. Pour it through a sieve to parse out the solid materials— either toss or refrigerate them as a snack. I recommend the latter.

6. Set aside the liquid drink to cool in the refrigerator to chill.

I sprinkled on a bit of osmanthus, which is traditionally enjoyed during the Mid-Autumn Festival in celebration of reunion. I hope in most states, lockdowns have been lifted and all extended family and friends can unite over one table— six feet apart.


Published by holidaysallyearround

For most cultures, holidays serve as the only opportunities in the year in which we come together: to reunite with faraway relatives, reconcile our past ancestors, and refill stomachs. And for most, holidays fall deep into history, myths, or grandma's fictitious tales that dictate the food boiling after a sacrificial ceremony to the decorations adorned on doors.

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