Pao Zhi Processing Methods Explained

There are many methods of Pao Zhi processing which you can use to enhance your herbal formulas. We’ve created a Chinese-English guide of Pao Zhi processing methods to help you understand what they mean.

Pao Zhi 炮制 is a traditional technique of altering the therapeutic properties, tastes and energies of herbs. Pao Zhi processing is mainly carried out by common cooking methods such as ‘Chao 炒 / stir frying’ or ‘Zhu 煮 boiling’. By using Pao Zhi techniques, we gain an increased amount of flexibility when customising herbal formulas for different individuals, but it also helps us render toxicity of herbs to make them safe for consumption. Other reasons for Pao Zhi can be to purify herbs or even to improve the shelf life. Moreover, some herbal formulas require Pao Zhi forms for maximum effect. Therefore, Pao Zhi herbs can be a useful part of your toolkit.

PaoZhi Methods

PaoZhi MethodDescription
Cooking at high heat (Zhi/炙)Zhi is one of the most common methods of Pao Zhi and it simply means to cook at a high temperature. This may be done by broiling or roasting.
Dry stir-frying (Chao/炒) This method increases the spleen awakening and stomach strengthening actions of herbs.
Quick frying (Pao/炮)Herbs are fried at a very high temperature until it browns or becomes cracked. This method reduces its toxicity or modifies its harsh characteristics.
Stir-frying with salt (Yan/盐)Stir frying with salt directs their actions downward to the kidneys. This form of preparation also nourishes the yin and reduces the resulting fire signs.
Stir-frying with wheat bran (Fu Chao/麸炒)Stir-frying with wheat bran enhances the herb's function on the digestive system. However, avoid using herbs processed in this way when working with patients with Coeliac disease, gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance.
Stir-frying with honey (Mi Zhi/密制)Stir-frying with honey increases a herb’s tonifying and moistening actions.
Stir-frying with vinegar (Cu Zhi/醋制)Using vinegar helps to enhance the herb's astringent, analgesic, blood-invigorating and detoxifying actions. This property soothes liver Qi stagnation.
Stir-frying with wine (Jiu Zhi/酒制)Stir-frying with wine enhances the herb's ability to clear blockage from the channels, expel wind and alleviate pain.
Stir-frying with ginger juice (Jiang Zhi/姜制)Stir-frying a herb with ginger reduces the tendency of bitter and cold herbs to upset the stomach.
Steaming (Zheng/蒸)Herbs can be steamed and then dried. This is a process that is used to alter the properties of various herbs. E.g. transforming Ren Shen (Panax Ginseng C.A.Mey) to Hong Shen ( Panax Ginseng rubra).
Blanching (Dan/燀)Blanching is method that is often used to remove the outer skins from herbs such as Tao Ren (peach kernels). This helps to reduce toxicity and activate the herb by releasing the key nutrients.
Boiling (Zhu/煮)You can boil a herb with water or other liquids such as vinegar or wine. This method can help to reduce toxicity of a herb and to alter the herb's characteristics.
Carbonising (Tan/碳)Carbonising involves stir-frying a herb in a dry wok until it blackens. This enhances a herb's function to inhibit bleeding.
Calcining (Duan/煅)Calcining is a method commonly used to process minerals. This involves placing a mineral directly or indirectly in flames until it reaches a high temperature and glows red. The purpose of this is to make the mineral more brittle and thus easier to pulverise.
Quenching (Cui/淬)Quenching is often used to process mineral herbs. This method involves heating minerals and then immersing the mineral in cold water straight after. Similarly to Duan, this method also helps to break down the mineral, making it easier to pulverise and moderates the herb properties.
Simmering (Ao/熬)Simmering is a PaoZhi method that you would carry out in your own dispensary as it is used to make syrups from herbs. A herb is boiled and reduced until a thick syrupy liquid is produced.
Roasting in ashes (Wei/煨)This process involves wrapping the herb in a moistened paper, with paste or with mud. Then, the herb is roasted in hot ashes until the outside coating is charred and the core has reached a high temperature.
Dry curing (Hong/烘) or baking (Bei/焙)This method is involves drying a herb on a low heat to avoid burning. This is often applied to drying flowers to help preserve the flower integrity and essential oils.

At Phoenix, we supply over 70 kinds of Pao Zhi processed herbs in dry herb form and concentrated granules, so you don’t have to do any processing yourself. Our manufacturers carry out Pao Zhi processing on-site, according to traditional methods.

Pao Zhi Processed Herbs Product List

We stock more Pao Zhi forms in concentrated granules than in dry herb form, because concentrated granules are produced with the purpose of being “instant medicine”. Concentrated granules can be taken by simply adding hot water to make a tea, whereas dry herbs are always decocted in hot water first before consumption.

Click here for a list of herbs that we supply in Pao Zhi forms.

There are some exceptions where you might want to process herbs yourself, such as making honey fried Da Zao 大枣. Jujube dates or Hong Zao become the perfect food for mould when stir-fried with honey. Therefore shelf life of Da Zao  becomes the perfect food for mould, therefore shelf life can be very short. As we do not use any sulphur or pesticides to treat our herbs, this is something we cannot avoid. Mould growth is natural after all, and so we can only do our best to work alongside nature.


If you have any questions about our Pao Zhi processed herbs, please contact us by calling +44 (0) 1245 350822 or emailing

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