Lotus grows throughout the tropical regions of Asia with light green leaves and vibrant white flowers. The leaves can grow extremely large at times, reaching more than 18 inches in diameter. They are typically collected in the summer and autumn, cleaned, then dried in the sun and cut into small pieces.
The lotus has historically played an important role in both the religion and medicine of many cultures. The lotus has been held sacred in Asia and the Middle East for over 5,000 years. Texts from India dated to the 11th and 12th centuries discuss meals that feature lotus leaves. The resilient plant was considered a symbol of immortality for the ancient Egyptians who also made use of it in their diet.
Based on the concepts of traditional Chinese medicine, lotus leaf is slightly bitter, and mild, and is attributed to the Liver and Spleen meridians. Lotus leaves contain high concentrations of phytochemicals, compounds produced by plants to defend themselves against bacterial and fungal infections. Lotus leaf helps digestion, promote liver health, invigorates blood, helps weight loss and improve cardiovascular health.
Lotus leaf is considered extremely safe; the American Herbal Products Association has given it a class 1 rating, meaning that it can be safely consumed when used appropriately.
Brewing Guide: The typical dosage of lotus leaf is between 6 and 12 grams, boiled in water and drunk as a decoction. Dried lotus leaf can be used in preparing a meal too, though it has a bitter flavor.