Old Men with Good Skin

Excavators found in the tombs of Egyptian pyramids silk still intact after 1000+ years buried underground. How did the Egyptians preserve the silk but practically not much else? The answer to the mystery lies in what the silkworms ate.

Silkworms’ Diet

Mulberry leaves the silkworms ate lent a natural ‘preservative quality’ to the silk it spun.

I first learnt of the mulberry leaf from a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. He owned a farm in Southern China so he could have a steady supply of organic mulberry leaves along with other health-beneficial herbs.

Doctor’s Wife was Proof of Mulberry Leaf Magic

The leaves were sun-dried after harvesting and then fried in a heated wok (similar to how tea leaves are prepared). Crunchy like dehydrated chips, the mulberry makes a healthy snack on its own or as part of a healthy trail mix. I took a peek at the doctor’s wife, who he claims has been eating the mulberry leaves for years — and surely, she had smooth and radiant skin. (She was probably in her 60s, but her skin still retained good elasticity and had no pigmentation.)

Old Men with Good Skin

A traditional Chinese dessert that makes use of the mulberry leaf is mulberry tea (桑記生茶)At one of Hong Kong’s old-school dessert shops — Yuen Kee Dessert (Est (c) 1855), it’s their signature dessert.

Old-school Mulberry Leaf dessert at Yuen Kee served with metal plate and fork. The metal plate is quite old-school and very few places bother to give you the extra fork for the egg. (Photo credit: Loangry Lou)

The old men working at Yuen Kee (源記)all had young-looking complexion and good skin. No wonder even models swing by to get their fix. (A model was spotted during one of my visits.)

Beauty From Within

TBH, the mulberry leaf is not a skin-specific herb. Rather, it works with the whole body’s internal balance — when our internal organs are in balance, naturally, it will be reflected through our skin. I was sharing a table with a couple yesterday evening at the wonton noodle and congee chain Chee Kei (池記)and overheard their conversation:

Girlfriend, “Why did you order the mulberry leaf dessert? What is it good for?”

Boyfriend, “It helps clear out tiredness.”

++I also noticed that the boyfriend ordered a hot barley drink(薏米水)- and thought to myself that this guy takes care of what he eats & drinks, really taking care of his body. While I wondered if the girlfriend was eating too much soy with her soy milk and warm tofu dessert. It’s mid-March and the peak of the humid season in Hong Kong with humidity averaging 90%+ (we do occasionally get 100% humidity meaning the walls start to ‘sweat’) so a barley drink would be good as it supposedly supports the body in clearing out dampness

Delicious and Simple to Make

Ingredients: Mulberry leaves, rock sugar, lotus seed & hard boiled eggs. (Photo credit: beanpanda.com)

Recipe here: http://www.beanpanda.com/7137/sang-ji-sheng-sweet-soup

  • Chee Kei (池記)with locations in Causeway Bay, Central, TST, Mongkok & Kowloon Bay is a convenient place to get your Mulberry dessert fix if you can’t make it to good-old Yuen Kee where there’s the old men with good skin. (Yuen Kee is at 32 Centre Street, Western District)
  • When making Chinese soups and desserts, use clay pots, not metal — it’ll give a more earthy, rounded and balanced quality. Better for taste, better for health.
Chinese earthen soup pot for reference.