Rubus chingii suavissimus, Chinese blackberry
Rubus chingii suavissimus, "Tian Cha" in Japan, the Chinese blackberry or "chinese sweet tea" is part of the genus Rubus, just like the raspberry or the blackberry. They do all belong to the Rosaceae - family. The Chinese sweet tea is just like the name implies originally from China. It can be found in some southern provinces, namely in Guangxi, Guizhou and in the northern part of Guang Dong. The shrubby plant grows in a height between 500 m and 1000 m.
The Chinese blackberry is known for its naturally occurring sweetness. The leaves contain the glycoside Rubusosid, which is similar to the glycosides of the Stevia plant. The glycoside is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Therefore the plant is used as a natural sweetener for drinks and all kinds of food. Above all it is used as a dulcifying supplement in herbal- or fruit tea. Tian Cha is not just famous for its intensity as a sweetener, but also for positive effects on health and well-being. The plant extract supports the function of the kidney, it is anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic. Moreover it is widely utilized as a therapeutic against obesity and constipation.
In Japan the sweet leaf tea is applied to alleviate the symptoms of hay fever. Also the cosmetics industry knows about the favourable features of R. chingii suavissimus. It is often manufactured into creams or similar cosmetics. The sweat leaf tea is growing up to three meters tall. The axis grows straight, the leaves are stemmed and digitate. They have a very similar appearance to the leaves of the cannabis plant. They reach a size of about 15 cm. The plant sheds the leaves in autumn, in spring new ones emerge. All summer long R. chingii suavissimus bears white inflorescences. The fruits are orange in colour and are sweet in their taste, like the plants' leaves. The Chinese Blackberry favours a sunny area that has to be adequately moisture. The plant is not winter hardy; therefore it should be kept in a winter garden or as a pot plant.