Ancient Chinese Secret
One of the coolest part of living in a big city is the ethnic diversity. In Los Angeles we have Little Armenia, Thai Town, Little Tokyo, Little Ethiopia, and of course, Chinatown. A few miles to my East and just barely West of downtown LA, our Chinatown may not be like that of NYC, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t boast tasty dim sum restaurants, an impressive arts district, plenty of visual delights, and authentic marketplace goodies! The latter of these things I most recently got to enjoy at Hip Woo Hong, where I also occasionally visit the in-house accupuncturist/herbalist, Serena.
Walking into Hip Woo Hong is a fascinating experience. There are glass jars full of dried fruits, roots, and mushrooms, dainty porcelain tea cups, large clay teapots, lovely tins of every kind of tea patterned with cherry blossoms, brightly packaged, unfamiliar candies and other treats. Plus, since this spot is where many Chinatown (and other) residents go seeking Eastern medicine, you get to see the incredibly amazing process of the herbal teas being distributed. Basically, after visiting Serena, she prescribes a custom blend of Chinese herbs. Each ingredient is pulled from what looks like a giant card catalogue and measured on an ancient looking scale and then separated and bundled into packages.
After noticing poor circulation in my extremities due to stress and tension, Serena gave me an upper back and neck rub with ointment, some motherly advice (“You work with lots of people and sometimes they can say nasty things…be an actress at work. Don’t get personal. Then go home and be a girlfriend.”), and a “prescription” for some herbs (to boost circulation and energy) to take every night for 6 days. Bundled into 3 pink packages, the herbs were to be boiled with 5 cups of water until the remaining liquid only measured a cup and then consumed. Each package should be used twice.
I thought I would share with you the beauty of this process and of Hip Woo Hong itself! I can’t think of many things more “vintage” than Eastern medicine! If you are near a Chinatown or plan to visit one soon, don’t be afraid to check out shops like this one. And if you’re in the LA area (and you’re interested!) go see Serena!
*In case you’re wondering about the taste, the tea tastes about like you’d imagine upon seeing the ingredients: earthy, sweet, sour, extremely bitter, thick, and generally not something you are used to consuming!