A visit to Geok Kuan’s: Preparations for a farmers’ market

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, I and two others made our way over to Geok Kuan’s place in the east.
Our aim that day was to learn about the work that she and some others have been diligently doing for the past 2-3 months in documenting the knowledge of local medicinal plant varieties.
At the same time, it was also for us to get to know one another. I’d been meeting each of them in different places and situations, and was eager to introduce them all to the work and ideas that they each had. I think I felt underlying currents of similar interest amongst them. And if nothing else, we would at least have gotten to spend some time in a beautiful garden!
We settled into a very comfortable pace, introducing and sharing our stories. Along the way, Geok Kuan gave us tastings of teas she had been brewing. We cycled through them: Honeyed Roselle with its natural red tint, mulberry with red dates and gingko nut, with a little density and sweetness from the dates, and finally a drink made of lime, lemon, cactus and yellow rock sugar, which refreshed our senses.
We talked a lot that day:
  • about local medicinal plants,
  • the difficulty of learning how they complement each other,
  • what quantities to use them in,
  • that regulations on how dried TCM goods are imported, are not clear in Singapore,
  • and that a lot of the plants used by Uncle Tan are native herbs.
All of them interesting for further thought!
Geok Kuan and the team will be creating a website featuring recipes using common herbs on the street, herbal teas that he commonly dispenses (all with fresh herbs) and uses as general remedies,  teas using the plants available in the market, tips on when to add sugar, and recipes for externally applied salves.
We also took a walk around her garden, and I managed to take some notes. Please note that the medicinal property of these plants differ across people and it’s best to read up first before deciding to use a herb.
**
Nan fei ye-lowers blood pressure
Bitter ones are usually for high blood pressure
The less bitter ones are good for overall wellness.
Black face general used to clear toxins
 Wild strawberry
Huo tan mu
Chinese knotweed–funny because it apparently has become seen as a weed in Britain. Its quick growth has been the cause of much government spending, trying to race against the growth of the plant
Xia gu cao, self-heal, good for teas, mild, palatable flavour
Plantain. Ce qian cao.

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