This was one of the bizarre teas I have ever drunk. I found it in China, but I understand that it grows and is consumed in other south Asian countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia. Pangdahai translates as Big Fat Sea, and it is also known as Malva Nut Tree.
I took four seeds (perhaps too many) and put it in a gaiwan, added hot water and left for steeping for around 1 minute (needs more time). I was fascinated by how the seeds cracked immediately and started to soak off the water in the little gaiwan. With the second steeping, I could see the gelatinous consistency that the seeds were transformed into. Taste-wise it was not too bad with some metallic taste, sweetness and fruitiness.
Later, I found out that Pangdahai is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) first recorded in the Bencao Gangmu Shiyi, a supplement to materia medica's compendium Xuemin Zhao in the Qing Dynasty (1765). According to TCM theory, it has the following functions: clearing heat from the lung, relieving sore throat, treating constipation by relaxing the bowels and removing away toxic substances. According to my sourcebook, modern pharmacological studies have also shown that its effects include promoting excretion, reducing blood pressure, inhibiting the formation of calcium oxalate crystal, antibacterial and weight-loss. However, these studies also Pangdahai is not suitable for long term use as it can promote intestinal peristalsis and has a mild laxative effect. Its long-term use is not recommended for people of inferior gastrointestinal functions, who have low normal or low blood pressure. I also saw warnings on vendors' descriptions that pregnant women should not take it.
A member of the social media tea community told me that this tea is available in Karaoke bars. As it is good to treat sore and dry throat and reduce cough, apparently it has been used by those who use their voice a lot.
Source: Y. Liu et al. (eds.), Dietary Chinese Herbs
Harvest time: 2020
Leaf colour: Brown olive-sized seeds
Liquor colour: Tones of brown (depending on the steeping duration)
Tea Aroma: Fruity
Tea Taste: Slightly sweet, metallic, fruity and tart
Steeping: 2– 4 pieces of Pangdahai, soaked by boiling water and simmer for around 10 minutes. To improve its laxative effect, add honey.
Shelf life: 2 years