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Apr 15, 2003 04:09 PM

Where to buy wolfberries aka gou qu zi - good herb shop?

  • s

Ok, the wolfberries in the eight treasures tea have me fascinated. Is there a good Chinese herb shop in SF? Those places always scare the heck out of me. Anyone reliable? I printed out the link below which has a picture and the Chinese characters, so I figure that this will help the search. While I like the tea, I really want to avoid the sugar. Also, I'd like to throw some of these in salads like dried raisins.

BTW, any restaurants serve dishes with these?



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  1. Yes, Jai Yun uses them sometimes in the soy beans with tofu sheet noodles.

    I'd think you could just take the print out of the characters and pictures into a Chinese herbalist and ask for the wolfberries.


    1. You can find wolfberries / jujubes at 99 Ranch, May Wah(Clement St.), & most Asian herbalist shops.
      Look for the fresh & bright red berries.
      Avoid the shriveled, terracotta ones, they've been stored too long.

      1. Do not go to Chinatown and ask for qu zi. The Cantonese way to say it is ghee g for woldberries. They come in lb packages and at in the of herb stores. And Suzanne is right pick the ones that a bright red and plump not he ones that are dried out and dark orange. This seed (is what is drop by the plant to regrown itself for the next season) picked and dry on a yearly basis. So therefore last years crop should be bright red and plump.

        Good hunting.

        1. Stanley,

          This seed is used extensively in Chinese soups. Many people just drop them in with their chicken soup or pork/herb soups. The story is that it is suppose to enhance your eyesite and helps to clear the liver as well. Also, feel free to eat a few of these seeds raw..I don't personally enjoy that but I know people who do. I think I noticed some Taiwanese snacks at ranch 99 which included this seed raw. It was kind of a Taiwanese trail mix. It had roasted black beans, raisins, peanuts, this qizi, sunflower seeds, ..a few more things which I can remember right now. It was interesting. Again, it had no added sugar. You may want to try that.

          Finally, if you don't really want to go through too much trouble assembling the "eight treasure" tea, a standard combination is this qizi seed(about 8 or 10 seeds per cup), some dried red date(about 2 or 3), and a little chrysanthemum tea. No sugar is needed since the dried red dates has a little sweetness. This tea can be had daily if you wish. It is suppose to clear you system and rejuvenate. Have fun. Margret

          1. Lee Hou Restaurant (332 Clement, next to Fountain Court) serves several funky herbal tonic soups; there's one with turtle and gou qi zi. Most people should avoid eating strong tonics (like turtle or ginseng) too often, especially if you are don't need them (young/robust), if you are very sick (strong flu or other "evil" active in the body; or if you have excess phlegm in your system), or during very warm weather. But gou qi zi is a pretty mild tonic, so a handful in a cup of tea, with broth, or in your oatmeal would be fine daily.

            Gou qi zi comes in a variety of sizes and colors. There is actually a significant variation in the flavor and quality of the fruit. Every once in a while you may get a bag that tastes a little "off" typically with an unpleasant salty taste.. I'll probably just toss the bag if it doesn't taste great. It usually has to do with how long they've been sitting around, and how they were processed. Be aware that the bright red ones are often the most heavily sulfured.

            Mayway herb company (1-800-909-2828) sells different grades of gou qi zi that are very high quality, and free of sulfur, microbials, pesticides, heavy metals, etc. They sell a pre-packaged catty (~1.3 pounds) for ~$4-8, depending on the grade.

            If you want to check out the merchandise before you buy… I usually go to the Chung Chou City chain of herb stores in SF. You can find their locations at:


            There are several new cookbooks in english that cover the subject of cooking with Chinese herbs. Eastwind Books in SF and Berkeley probably have them. Shakespeare & Co. Books in Berkeley had a nice book (The Chinese Herbal Cookbook ISBN 0-8348-0480-8) that would be a good introductory text - it was on one of the middle sale-book islands for $5.99 ($24.95 list). Being a research –compulsive individual ;) you’ve probably already found several recipes on the internet :


            You can also cook with the leaves of the plant (Chinese Boxthorn; gau gei choy or gou qi cai) – they’re sold in Chinatown groceries during the right season. You can easily recognize them: they have are sold in bunches 1 to 1.5 feet long… woody green stems, oval leaves about an inch long and a half inch wide.. and a sizeable thorn where the leaf meets the stem. The leaves are most often stripped from the stem and added to a pork-broth soup. Check out the USDA Fruits and Vegetables guide that Melaine posted a while back:


            1 Reply
            1. re: Charlie T
              Stanley Stephan

              Wonderful informative post. Thanks so much.

              From what I read on the web, the wolfberries from Mongolia are less likely to be pesticide laden. I'm impatient, so I wanted a local source NOW rather than waiting for a mail order.

              Thanks to others who posted on this. It gives me an excuse to finally check out ranch 99.

              You should post more often, Charlie T. You are a fount of information. Thanks again.