Plum Dragon Herbs

Er Cha (Catechu)


Er Cha (Catechu) is known for its astringent, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. It is used to treat various health conditions, such as mouth and throat infections, digestive problems, skin disorders, and wounds. It is also believed to have blood-activating, hemostatic, and liver-protective effects. In traditional Chinese medicine practice, Er Cha is often used in combination with other herbs to enhance its therapeutic effects and to treat a wide range of health issues. Used topically, Catechu is bitter and astringent, exhibits cool energy, and enters only the Lung meridian. Primarily a damp-draining herb, this substance aids in the generation of flesh and can aid in the arrest of bleeding, especially when caused by heat. It is for these reasons that have been used for athletic injuries. However, it is important to note that the use of Er Cha should be under the guidance of a qualified traditional Chinese medicine practitioner.

Translated literally as "Child's Tea", Catechu appears in the classical Qi Li San Bruise Relieving Powder, and inadvertently in some Wing Chun dit da jow recipes. Er Cha  is typically processed into a powder or extract form, which is then used in various forms of traditional Chinese medicine. In decoction form, catechu is used as a warm, astringent tea to soothe digestive distress and support healthy circulation. When used topically, catechu is believed to help soothe skin irritation and promote the healing of cuts and wounds. As an herbal supplement, catechu is commonly taken in capsule or extract form to support overall health and wellness, and to provide natural relief from digestive discomfort.

High Quality Er Cha: What does it look like?

High quality Er Cha, also known as cutch or catechu, is a dark brown or blackish-brown solid material with a smooth and hard texture. It has a strong, bitter taste and a distinctive earthy aroma. The physical properties of Er Cha can vary depending on the method of preparation, but typically it is sold as a hard, dense, and compact block or lump. The size and shape of the catechu may vary depending on the source, but it is typically cut into thin slices, small pieces, or a fine powder.

When in powder form, Er Cha is a reddish-brown to dark brown, fine to coarse powder made from the heartwood of the Acacia catechu tree. It has a distinctive, astringent taste and is soluble in water. The powder has a slightly sticky consistency, due to its tannin content. The color and aroma of Er Cha Powder can vary based on the processing and storage methods used, but high-quality catechu powder should have a consistent color and aroma, free from any moldy or musty odors.

How is Er Cha prepared and processed?

Catechu, also known as cutch or catechu gum, is native to Southeast Asia, specifically India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Myanmar. The plant is a member of the legume family and is most commonly found in tropical forests and on the banks of rivers. The plant is a large shrub or small tree that can reach a height of up to 20 meters. The bark is dark brown and rough, and the leaves are pinnate and have a glossy appearance. The plant produces small yellow flowers and pods that contain seeds.

Overall, the Catechu plant grows best in a warm, tropical climate with high humidity.  It prefers well-drained soil with good organic matter content and adequate sunshine. It is very important that the Catechu plant receives high rainfall or access to irrigation as the plant requests consistant moisture. The optimal temperature range between 25-30°C and optimal pH range is between 5.5-7.5

Note: The conditions may vary depending on the specific cultivar and location.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Er Cha is usually dried under natural sunlight or with low heat to preserve its natural properties. After drying, it is cut into small pieces or ground into a powder form. The preparation and processing of Er Cha involves soaking it in water or boiling it to extract its essence, which is then used in decoctions, pills, or tinctures. The optimal processing methods vary depending on the specific use of the herb and the condition being treated. It is important to use high quality Er Cha that has been sourced from reputable suppliers to ensure its efficacy and safety.

Popular Recipe for Er Cha

To make a catechu tincture, you will need:

  • dried Er Cha(catechu) pieces
  • high-proof alcohol, such as vodka or Everclear
  • a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
  • a strainer
  • a dark glass bottle for storing the tincture


  1. Fill the jar with the dried Er Cha pieces, leaving about 1 inch of headspace.
  2. Pour the alcohol over the Er Cha, filling the jar to the top.
  3. Close the lid tightly and shake the jar to make sure all the Er Cha is wetted with alcohol.
  4. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking it every few days.
  5. After the tincture has steeped, strain the liquid into a dark glass bottle using a strainer.
  6. Label the bottle with the date, contents, and strength of the tincture.
  7. Store the tincture in a cool, dark place, away from light and heat.

Note: The strength of the tincture can be adjusted by using more or less Er Cha, or by using a higher or lower proof alcohol. It is recommended to start with a 1:5 or 1:10 ratio of dried catechu to alcohol and adjust to taste.

Safety Precautions for the use of Er Cha

When using Er Cha, it is important to take the following precautions:

  1. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional before using Er Cha, especially if you have any health conditions or are taking any medications.

  2. Avoid using Er Cha in large amounts, as excessive consumption may cause adverse reactions such as nausea, dizziness, or headaches.

  3. Keep Er Cha out of reach of children and pets.

  4. Store Er Cha in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture.

  5. If you experience any adverse reactions after consuming Er Cha, discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.

  6. Use caution when consuming Er Cha if you are sensitive to caffeine or other stimulants.

  7. Be aware that Er Cha may have a strong flavor, so it may be necessary to mix it with other herbs or foods before consumption.

  8. Be aware that the preparation and storage of Er Cha can affect its quality and safety. Always follow proper storage and preparation instructions.

  9. Before consuming Er Cha, be aware that some teas may contain harmful chemicals or contaminants. Always choose a reputable source and follow proper preparation instructions.

  10. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with a healthcare professional before using Er Cha.

It’s important to note that this is a general guideline and it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist to determine the right dosage and usage for you

Additional Information about Er Cha

Common Names: Er Cha (Catechu, Black Catechu) ; Acacia Catechu; Catechu

Properties: Bitter, astringent, cool

Channels Entered: Lung 

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