Sunday, April 10, 2005

Korean Ginseng

Brother went to South Korea for honeymoon and brought back ginseng! It's the best grade (天级一品,太极人参) and it costs a whooping SGD$700 for 600g. *sweat*. It's the creme a la crop a la yogurt of ginsengs.

Some educative stuff about ginseng::
American Ginseng (花旗参),
Chinese Ginseng (长白参),
Korean Ginseng (高丽人参)
the most potent being Korean Ginseng. In fact, only korean ginseng can be called 人参, as they are the most authentic/potent/yahDaYahDa ones. (The 参 word for korean ginseng [and only korean ginseng!] has a 草字头 to it, but it doesn't exist in the dictionary.) Korea lies between 36 and 38 northern lines of latitude, which is the best geographical location for raising ginseng. That's why they have the best ginseng. 长白参 is from the Mt of 长白, which is a Mt shared between China and North Korea. Korea's side of the Mt is called 白头山. Hmm. Too much useless info here.

American Ginseng is cooling.
Chinese Ginseng is similar to korean ginseng, but less potent.
Korean Ginseng is heaty if harvested in the first 5 years, but is neutral after that. That's why you would see labels on packagings saying that the ginsengs are harvested after more than 5 years.

There are a few grades of Ginseng, namely:
Heaven Grade (Best, highest in saponin [a sort of nutrient] levels)
Earth Grade (Still very good, and still very expensive)
Good Grade (Erm. Good grade.)
Cut Root (Cut into smaller size)
Sliced Root (even smaller size of a less nutritious part of the root)
Drinks and Candies (useless stuff. Only taste like Ginseng, but without the potency)

1000-year Ginseng?
Wild ginseng can indeed be grown for many moons, so you can start growing one (in the wild) for your descendants several generations off... but not cultivated ginsengs. In fact, cultivated ginsengs can only grow to a lifespan of 6 years, cos they start to rot after that.

for more information, can go It might be useful to know more about this nutritious roots, that you can impress your in-laws with this... =P

Koreans prize their Ginsengs a lot, so naturally there's a high export tax to it. The bestest ones are not for export. So, the next time you go Korea, you'd save some (no, a lot) money by buying some authentic ginseng home for your parents/friends/boss.

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