This is a recipe to make a homemade copy of a famous Chinese herbal tonic drink called Shou Wu Chih (Shou Wu Zhi). It is basically a medicinal liquor that is used to supplement the blood and is also thought to blacken and nourish the hair. There are several similar products on the market with slightly different recipes, but one of the key authentic brands is the Yang Cheng brand.

For many years, Shou Wu Chih was sold openly in Chinatown pharmacies and it often remains available. However, most pharmacies do not have a liquor license so they can only sell food products. To better comply with the law, the label of many of the alcohol-containing commercial products was altered to include salt, allowing the product to be sold as cooking wine. Personally, I suspect that the only thing that changed was the label, but I haven’t tried it for many years so I can’t say for sure.

As a student, we had a Tui Na teacher who loved Shou Wu Chih. He would drink it by the bottle with his friends and go out roller skating. One day, I decided to try to make it myself to give to him as a gift. I used top shelf herbs and it came out great, much better than the original. Over the years, many people have asked me for the recipe, so here it is:

Use about 200 grams of raw herbs per liter of alcohol (vodka works well). Drink about one shot worth per serving.

He Shou Wu (Polygoni Multiflori Radix) 50 g

Dang Gui (Angelicae Sinensis Radix) 50 g

Huang Jing (Polygonati Rhizoma) 40 g

Sheng Di Huang (Rehmanniae Radix) 20 g

Chuan Xiong (Chuanxiong Rhizoma) 15 g

Bai Zhi (Angelicae Dahuricae Radix) 14 g

Sha Ren (Amomi Fructus) 4 g

Fo Shou (Citri Sacrodactylis Fructus) 5 g

Ding Xiang (Caryophylli Flos) 2 g

It comes out best if one uses top shelf herbs. Soak the herbs in a one liter jar with vodka, the longer the better. It can be consumed after about 4-6 weeks.