Hong Dou Tang

Hong Dou Tang, sweet adzuki bean soup with rice flour dumplings.

Hong dou tang (紅豆汤, pinyin: hóng dòu tāng) or red bean soup is a popular Chinese dish served in Mainland ChinaHong Kong, and Taiwan. It is categorized as a tang shui 糖水 (pinyin: táng shuǐ) (literally translated as sugar water) or sweet soup. It is often served cold during the summer, and hot in the winter. Leftover red bean soup can also be frozen to make ice pops and is a popular dessert


Hong dou tang is usually served as a dessert. Yes, bean soup for dessert.

Sweet adzuki bean dishes are common in China, as well as several other eastern Asian cuisines, most often as pastries or dumplings filled with sweet red bean paste. But this is probably the simplest form; it’s literally five ingredients. Or maybe four if you’re not into tapioca or mochi.

There are many variations on this soup, ranging from plain sweetened beans, to additions like tapioca, lotus seed, coconut milk, rice or little balls made of glutinous (aka sweet) rice flour like little mochi dumplings.

If you choose to cook the tapioca in the soup you might need to add a little more water, and make sure you are stirring often enough to keep it from sticking to the bottom.

It’s super simple, and I was surprised by how naturally the sweetness matched the bean flavor. I made a nice chicken stir-fry, and finished the meal with this soup.

Edited 2/22/2020: adjusted water amount for glutinous rice dumplings, and removed speculation about need for extra water in the soup with that version (it’s not necessary).

Hong Dou Tang

Serves: 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: About 1: 20 hour, plus soaking time.

1 cup adzuki beans
5 cups Water
1 piece dried tangerine peel
⅛ tsp orange zest
3 ½ Tablspoons rock sugar
½ cup brown suger
⅓ cup tapioca pearls
½ cup glutinous rice flour + 5-6 Tablespoons water

Wash beans. Soak over night.

Soak tangerine peel in cold water for 15-20 minutes. Scrape bitter white pith off with a spoon.

Drain beans. Put in pot, add 5 C water and tangerine peel. Bring to a boil, cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly. Bring back to a boil and simmer a further 30 minutes, until beans start to fall apart. Season with sugar (and orange zest if using).

Add tapioca and cook another 20 minutes, until tapioca is transparent.


Cook tapioca separately, in 2 cups of water, for about 10 minutes. Then let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water for one minutes before adding to soup.


Mix glutinous rice flour with water. Add additional water if necessary to create a cohesive mass. Roll into a log about finger size and cut into pieces. Add to soup and cook until balls float. 

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