Korean tea

Korean tea
A mug of omija cha, a Korean herbal tea made from the berries of Schisandra chinensis.

Korean tea refers to various types of tisane that can be served hot or cold. Not necessarily related to "common" tea, they are made from diverse substances including fruits, leaves, roots, and grains used in traditional Korean medicine.


History of Korean tea

In Gakjeochong, a Goguryeo tomb shows that a knight drinks a cup of tea together with two ladies in the interior in the 5-6th century

The first historical record documenting the offering of tea to an ancestral god describes a rite in the year 661 in which a tea offering was made to the spirit of King Suro, the founder of the Geumgwan Gaya Kingdom (42-562). Records from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) show that tea offerings were made in Buddhist temples to the spirits of revered monks.

During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the royal Yi family and the aristocracy used tea for simple rites, the "Day Tea Rite" was a common daytime ceremony, whereas the "Special Tea Rite" was reserved for specific occasions. These terms are not found in other countries.

Toward the end of the Joseon Dynasty, commoners joined the trend and used tea for ancestral rites, following the Chinese example based on Zhu Xi's text Formalities of Family.

Types of Korean tea

Made from roots

Insam cha

Insam cha (인삼차, 人蔘茶) is a tea made from ginseng, which can be an undried ginseng (수삼, 水蔘), a dried ginseng (건삼, 乾蔘) or a red steamed ginseng (홍삼, 紅蔘). The sliced or whole ginseng is gently boiled for a few hours in water, and then honey or sugar is added for taste. Usually, water 500 mℓ and ginseng 50 g is usual preparation for Insam Cha. Sometimes, jujube can be added when boiled.

Efficacy: Insam cha is good for increasing energy, especially for someone who catches colds frequently in winter. It also has a remedial effect on stomachaches due to low body temperature. But, this tea should not be consumed by someone who has a high body temperature or high blood pressure.

Danggwi cha

Danggwi cha (당귀차, 當歸茶) is a tea made from boiling the dried root of Korean angelica or an angelica gigas. The dried root of Korean angelica is gently boiled in water for a few hours. Sometimes, ginger root can be added for preference when boiled.

Efficacy: Korean angelica is often called ginseng for woman. Thus, it is good for (white) leucorrhoea and postpartum care. If consumed for a long time, it can remedy cold fingers or toes. But, it should not be used for someone who has diarrhea.

Saenggang cha

Saenggang cha (생강차, 生薑茶) is a tea made from ginger root. The ginger root is washed and sliced without peeling. The sliced ginger root is stored with honey for a few weeks. To make tea the mixed honey and ginger root is added to hot water.

Efficacy: Saenggang Cha is usually used to prevent colds and to aid digestion. It also has a remedial effect on diarrhea and stomachache due to low body temperature. It helps someone who has a low body temperature due to bad circulation. However, this tea should not be consumed by anyone who has a gastric ulcer.


  • Chik cha (칡차) - made from kudzu root
  • Dunggulle cha (둥굴레차) - made from dried root of Solomon's seal.
  • Ma cha (마차, 麻茶 or 산약차) - made from the root of hemp

Made from fruits

Mogwa cha
  • Sujeonggwa - punch made from dried persimmons, ginger, and cinnamon
  • Yujacha (유자차, 柚子茶) - Yuzu teaphoto
  • Gugijacha (구기자차, 枸杞子茶) - made from dried wolfberries
  • Daechucha - made from jujubesphoto
  • Omijacha (오미자차, 五味子茶): Tea made from dried fruits of Schisandra chinensis. Omija cha is named because the tea comprises five distinct flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent.
  • Maesilcha (매실차, 梅實茶): green fruits of a maesil and sugar is added to water, and then fermented for a month or so. Be careful not to produce alcohol.
  • Mogwacha - the fruit of a Pseudocydonia, or Chinese quince, is sliced, and then it is stored and fermented in large bowl with sugar and water for a month or so. Take care that the mixture does not become alcoholic.
  • Sansuyu cha (산수유차, 山茱萸茶) - made from a fruit of Cornus officinalis, which is a variety of dogwood.
  • Taengja cha (탱자차, 橙子茶) - the fruit of the trifoliate orange and sugar are added with water and allowed to ferment for a month or so.

Made from grains and seeds

Made from leaves

  • Bbongnip cha (뽕잎차): dried mulberry leaves
  • Gamnip cha (감잎차): dried persimmon leaves
  • Solnip cha (솔잎차): pine needles
  • Gukhwa cha (국화차,菊花茶) - wild chrysanthemum flowers are preserved in honey for a month or so, and then mixed with hot water
  • Ilsulcha (이슬차): Hydrangea serrata (산수국, ) leaves
  • Pakha cha (박하자): peppermint leaves


  • Yeongji-beoseot-cha (영지버섯차, 靈芝茶) : tea made from dried Ganoderma lucidum fungus
  • Songhwa milsu (송화밀수, 松花蜜水): Pine pollen and honey are added to water
  • Gyulgang cha (귤강차, 橘薑茶): the skin of mandarin oranges is dried and cleaned, and then it is boiled in water. Serve the boiled water with honey.
  • Ssanghwa cha (쌍화차, 雙花茶): Tea made from a few materials of traditional Korean medicine such as steamed and dried root of Rehmannia glutinosa (숙지황, 熟地黃), dried root of Angelica gigas (당귀, 當歸), the dried root of Ligusticum officinale (천궁, 川芎), the dried root of Paeonia obovata (작약,芍藥), cinnamon bark, the dried root of Glycyrrhiza glabra (감초, 甘草) and the root of Astragalus membranaceus (황기, 黃芪).
  • Duchung cha (두충차, 杜仲茶): Tea made from the skin of Eucommia ulmoides tree.
  • Donggyuja cha (동규자차, 冬葵子茶): Tea made from seed of Malva verticillata
  • Salgunamu cha (살구나무차): Made from apricot seed kernels
  • Gamro cha (감로차, 甘露茶): Tea made from juice of maple leaves, Celtis sinensis, Catalpa ovata, and Quercus dentata

See also


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