Ginseng tea has been widely used as a tonic and pick me up in China for thousands of years. Its unique restorative properties are now well recognized in the West and there are many proprietary brands of teas to choose from. As one of the most powerful adaptogenic herbs available it often recommended by natural health practitioners to restore a body to balance.

Below: preserved Ginseng in a Korean Market

Ginseng in Korean Market

Types of Ginseng

Panax Ginseng

Panex ginseng comes from China or Korea. The sun dried form is called white panax ginseng. A red form is also available. It is from the same variety but is usually grown for longer(around six years as opposed to four or five) and steamed before drying. Panax ginseng is said to promote Yang energy which is for vigor and passion. In men, it is said to promote sexual potentcy.

Panax should be used with care as over use- every day for many weeks- can cause insomnia and irritability. The body should never be fired up past its normal capacity. Some rare side effects include nausea, diarrhea, euphoria, headaches, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, mastalgia, and vaginal bleeding.

American Ginseng

This is grown in Canada and Wisconsin. It is said to promote Ying and has a calming effect rather than a stimulating affect. The taste of American Ginseng is sweeter than Panax although it is still slightly bitter
It is exported to China in great quantities where it is thought highly suitable for treating the Heart, Lung and Kidney meridians by practitioners of Chinese medicine. It is often used for chronic coughs and kidney complaints.

Siberian Ginseng

This is not a true ginseng although it has some similar constituents and many uses in herbal medicine. For a true restorative it is best to chose from the Panax or American Ginseng.

How to Make Ginseng Tea.

ginseng slicesDried ginseng can be bought as either a powder or in slices from most health food stores and online.

If you follow the instructions on the packaging you should get an optimum dose- though of course it is also a question of taste. If your tea tastes too strong, drink a little more at the strength that you enjoy. Slices are often more enjoyable to use as you steep them until the tea is just right and then remove them.

Left: ginseng slices

Green Tea Ginseng

Green tea is rich in antioxidants and adds a big health benefit to ordinary ginseng beverages. The best way to enjoy green tea ginseng is to make your own with a quality green tea and ginseng powder or slices. This is because ready made ginseng teas often contain cheap, poor quality green teas. Over-processed or poor quality green teas contain far fewer anti oxidants and offer fewer health benefits. Also the quantity of ginseng is often too low in proprietary brands. Of course you can always check the labeling for this.

A Recipe for Ginseng Tea

For a real tonic try the recipe below

2 parts white Panax ginseng root
2 parts red Panax ginseng root
1 part Chinese licorice root
1 part Chinese red jujube date

Steep 1 tablespoon in 1 cup of boiling hot water for about five minutes. This is guaranteed to get rid of any fatigue! Teas can be sweetened with honey and, in the summer, iced ginseng teas can be very pleasant.

Ginseng can also be baked in cakes and cookies although heat may reduce the benefits of some of the ingredients. I have even seen recipes for Chocolate Peanut Butter Ginseng Cookies !

Other Ways to Benefit from Ginseng

Low temperature extraction is used to get the most from Ginseng. High temperature treatments like steaming or even sun drying cam reduce the strength of the natural ingredients. These extracts are also available in health stores. If want the benefits of ginseng without the taste (is not everyones cup of tea- if you will excuse the pun) you can use ginseng in gelatin capsules.

Honeyed ginseng roots are considered a delicacy by many, as well as being beneficial to health.