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Ginseng Tea Introduction
Ginseng is a perennial herb, which is a low-growing plant such as strawberries and other herbs. Its leaf has five leaflets, and three to five leaves grow at the top of the ginseng plant. It has an interesting long fleshy root, which is said to resemble a human body. Its root's appearance earned it its name, which is derived from Chinese words meaning "likeness of man."
Ginseng tea can be made from the roots, powdered roots or cuttings from any part of the plant. The ginseng is boiled in water to make the tea. It should steep in water for about five minutes before drinking. Ginseng tea can taste sweet at first, yet has a bitter aftertaste. Some people claim that it has a soothing effect.
Types of Ginseng
There are two main types of ginseng: Oriental ginseng and American ginseng（花旗参）. Oriental ginseng is grown in China and Korea and generally consists of Red Panax and White Ginseng. White Ginseng comes from the naturally dried root of the Oriental ginseng grown in Korea. Red Panax, the most popular type of ginseng in the East, is made by steaming the Korean White Ginseng root for 8 to 10 hours, then letting it dry. The resulting ginseng is red and is generally considered to be of higher potency than that of White Ginseng. American ginseng is native to Eastern North America. Its range spans from Southern Ontario to Georgia and as far west as Wisconsin. Most Oriental and American ginseng that is used has been cultivated since wild ginseng is now rare.
History of Ginseng Tea
The Chinese were the first recorded people to use ginseng on a regular basis. Because the plant's root often grows to resemble a human form, the name they gave it was a combination of the Chinese words for "man" and "plant." The plant later became known as Panax, a Greek word meaning "all healing," or "cure all," and it is related to the word panacea. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng was used as a "warming" herb since it was thought to boost energy and increase and stimulate body functions. It was widely used to increase sexual desire and potency.
Ginseng Tea Health Benefits
Ginseng and ginseng tea have long been prized in Asian cultures for their perceived medicinal attributes. However, in America, the health benefits and risks of ginseng teas are still subject to scientific and medical study.
How to Make Chamomile Tea
When making ginseng tea, there are several options. The first is to use the rhizome itself. When buying ginseng choose a firm rhizome with no soft spots or discolorations. There is also the option of buying it pre-cut in thin slices.
Ginseng tea is slightly sweet at first but may have a strong biting or even bitter aftertaste. It is often mixed with chrysanthemum tea and sweetened with sugar or honey.
The first method for making ginseng tea is to pour boiling water over 3 to 5 thin slices of ginseng and let steep for 5 minutes—more if you prefer stronger tea, less if you prefer weaker tea.
Alternatively, boil 3 cups of water, add 8 to 10 ginseng slices, and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and let cool. It can be served warm or cold as an iced ginseng tea. Store the tea in the refrigerator.
Or, try the Korean version of ginseng tea. Place thinly sliced pieces of ginseng rhizome in a ceramic, glass, or stainless steel bowl and add a few teaspoons of honey. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then pour boiling water over the mixture to make the tea.
Tea can also be made with liquid extract or ginseng powder. For liquid extract, mix one cup of extract with one cup of boiling water. For powder, dissolve 1 teaspoon in one cup of boiling water.
It is also possible to use a standardized extract to make tea by adding a few drops to hot water in a cup. Be advised that extracts may contain small amounts of alcohol unless otherwise stated.
Ginseng tea should be avoided if you have high blood pressure, or are taking other stimulants. Also, children should not drink ginseng tea.
Last Update: 2012.9
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