Although ginseng is considered a medicinal herb, it is also incorporated into cooking and teas. The most common uses for the whole ginseng root, ginseng tea cut, and ginseng slices are in soups and teas. These items can also be eaten or "chewed on" without any type of preparation. Ginseng capsules are very popular for people that are not used to cooking with ginseng or would like something more convenient.
When making soup, especially chicken soup, add a few ginseng roots or a handful of slices after the soup has been prepared and allow the ginseng to simmer in the soup for a couple of hours. The root will become soft and then can either be mashed and added to the soup or taken out and eaten separately. Ginseng slices or the ginseng "tea cut" also work very well for this since they can be added and do not need to simmer for as long a period. They can then be left in the soup and served with the slices or pieces of root remaing in the soup.
Ginseng can also be used in cooking other types of dishes. Ginseng slices or fresh ginseng roots are often added to stir fry dishes. Ginseng powder can also be added to baked items or simmered in the hot water when making rice.
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.
Ginseng tea is probably the most popular use for ginseng. The tea can be made from the whole root, slices, ginseng tea cut or the ginseng tea bags. When using the whole root for cooking or ginseng tea it is often sliced or broken into smaller pieces so that it does not have to simmer for as long a period of time. The ginseng slices are very popular because they have already been sliced into thinner pieces and are ready for use.
When making ginseng tea it usually takes about 2-3 grams of ginseng per cup of tea. This is about 5-8 slices, about 1 teaspoon of ginseng tea cut or powder, or easier yet - 1 tea bag. Ginseng tea is very simple to prepare. Just add the ginseng to hot water and allow it to steep for about 4-5 minutes or as long as you like depending on how "strong" you like the ginseng tea. The longer the ginseng simmers in the hot water, the "stronger" the tea will be. The ginseng can usually be reused for about 2-3 cups of tea and then eaten if desired.
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.
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.
If ginseng tea alone is not to your liking it can also be added to other types of tea and allowed to steep with the other teas prior to consuming.
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