Ginseng benefits the mind, body and soul in a multitude of ways. Its medicinal use dates back thousands of years, most notably in Ancient China where the consumption of Ginseng Tea allegedly cured numerous ailments prevalent in society.
Now, this claim has the backing of much of modern science, and that is why this week, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company are exploring in significant depth the true potential of our four Ginseng-based Teas.
What is Ginseng
Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial plant belonging to the Araliaceae (ivy) family. Its appearance and characteristics differ depending on the type of Ginseng being referred to, though broadly speaking, the root of the plant is 2 to 3 inches in length (occasionally twice this size) and from ½ to 1 inch in thickness. This root, regardless of the type, is the ingredient used in the making of Ginseng Tea.
Allegedly, the word Ginseng is said to mean “the wonder of the world”. Here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, we certainly agree with the notion, particularly when it comes to Ginseng Benefits.
And we’re not, by far, the only ones to recognise these Ginseng benefits as, in fact, its medicinal usage dates back to the establishment of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), perhaps even before.
The discovery of Ginseng occurred some 5,000 years ago in the mountains of Manchuria, China. Historians theorise that its consumption was predominantly food-based at this time, though as society developed in China, so too did the idea that this seemingly unassuming herb could benefit one’s everyday way of life. As it turns out, it can.
By the third century CE, the Chinese had long recognised the Ginseng benefits of which, in turn, gave rise to international trade in the root, thus allowing Korea to obtain Chinese silk and medicine in exchange for wild ginseng. The ball had started to roll, and Ginseng’s popularity exploded (and continues to explode to this day!).
But the history of Ginseng is just one string to its bow; now we also know from a scientific standpoint what makes this herb and, in turn, these Teas so unique. However, before we jump right into the incredible capabilities of Ginseng, we must first understand a few slightly more complicated elements concerning its story.
Types of Ginseng
Over the course of many years, knowing what “real” Ginseng is and what is not has become increasingly difficult, and at times, even the internet isn’t sure (who would have thought?!). The confusion has arisen mostly from a few distant cousins of Ginseng that have managed to smuggle their way into the ranks. Even more confused? Allow us to explain.
There are two main (emphasis on “main”) types of Ginseng: American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng). Both types belong to the Panax genus of the Araliaceae family, which is usually the easiest way to determine whether one is consuming “real” Ginseng or not.
The other way to recognise the difference is noting the fact that only herbs in the Panax genus contain an abundance of ginsenosides, an active component touted for Ginseng benefits.
However, then there is Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) as just one example of a so-called “distant cousin”, one described as honorary ginseng despite only being distantly related to American and Asian Ginseng.
There are many other examples of plants called Ginseng, but none of these belongs to the same Panax genus, as is the case with Siberian Ginseng - while others don’t even belong to the same family! It’s sort of like having that “Aunty” Margaret around for a family gathering - except she is the only one there who calls herself an aunt, and in reality, isn’t!
Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, we have here three Ginsengs, two closely related and one only distantly. Let’s explore each one a little further:
As the name would suggest, this herb is native to much of Asia, and goes by other names including Korean Ginseng and Chinese . This type is arguably the most famous owing to its extensive use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
The Asian variety of this plant is larger than the American variety. The simple and erect stem can reach a foot (0.3 metres) high, bearing three leaves, each divided into five finely-toothed leaflets and a single, terminal umbel with a few small, yellowish flowers. It also produces a fruit that is a cluster of bright red berries.
Most important, however, is the root of the plant, which again is much like the American Ginseng root except being ever so slightly larger. In China, the root is called “Jin-chen”, meaning “like a man”, in reference to their supposed resemblance to the human form.
This plant grows in wooded areas throughout eastern and central North America, especially in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, as well as in the southern US state of Georgia. While not used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for obvious reasons, American Ginseng has a close association with numerous Native American tribes who likewise consumed it for its health benefits. A name commonly used by these tribes was “garantoquen”, which like the Chinese describing Asian Ginseng, meant “like a man”.
Though smaller than the Asian variety, the overall botanical features of American Ginseng are relatively similar. For successful cultivation in North America, it is stated that loose, fertile soil, with a heavy mulch of leaves and around 80% shade (generally provided artificially) is necessary.
Somewhere between close family and that so-called Aunty Margaret, we have Siberian Ginseng, a distant relative of Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius. This herb does not contain ginsenosides; however, there is an abundance of eleutherosides, which are beneficial to one’s health in their own right.
Botanically, there are also notable differences between this herb and those belonging to the Panax genus. It is a deciduous, hardy shrub growing to heights of up to 3 metres (10 feet) and consists of 3 to 6 toothed leaflets on each stem. Similarly to its “real” counterparts, on the other hand, is the fact that it is the root of the plant used for medicinal purposes.
Would it come as a surprise to hear that Ginseng benefits differ depending on the type of Ginseng being consumed? Let’s begin with Korean Ginseng; in particular concerning its historical significance as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
TCM is a system of wellness and medical practice based on the holistic view of the human body operating within the energy of nature. It is said to be the third oldest kind of medicine in the world; one still practised today with over 10,000 practitioners in the United States alone.
TCM relies heavily on herbal remedies for improving wellbeing, with Ginseng being one of the most highly regarded. This herb can, according to TCM, strengthen one’s original “Qi”, which is the vital energy of the body capable of animating our being.
American Ginseng, on the other hand, and perhaps understandably so, has only limited usage in the world of TCM. Nevertheless, some TCM practitioners may also adopt the use of American Ginseng for stimulating one’s Qi. The same goes for Siberian Ginseng, though, of course, in different ways.
Prefer to keep your head in the world of modern scientific science? Worry not as all types of Ginseng - American, Asian and even Siberian - can support healthy living. But don’t just take our word for it; the studies speak for themselves!
Ginseng Tea Antioxidants
Like the vast majority of our Teas, whether they are Black, Green, White Oolong or Herbal, all types of Ginseng contain an abundance of antioxidants capable of combating free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are the product of natural, though harmful, human oxidation, which when left unchecked, can wreak havoc on the body, increasing the risks of developing numerous chronic conditions, namely cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
The frequent consumption of Ginseng Tea, meanwhile, can neutralise these free radicals, thus reducing the risks of developing these conditions, as well as several others. And aside from its antioxidant potential, Ginseng Tea likewise contains numerous other vitamins and minerals, all of which are beneficial to one’s health in their own right.
One component worth mentioning again is ginsenosides, which according to new research, can offer outstanding Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Ginseng by suppressing the production of proinflammatory cytokines and regulating the activities of inflammatory signalling pathways.
Ginseng Tea and Brain Function
A UK-based study conducted by the Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Centre only very recently discovered correlations between Drinking Ginseng Tea and the Improved Brain Function.
To start, the research indicated that 200 milligrams of Ginseng consumed daily for eight days had slowed the fall in mood in all thirty participants involved in the study.
Though these initial results undoubtedly reduced stress in participants, the best results came from upping the dosage from 200 to 400 milligrams daily, which saw an improvement in calmness and mental arithmetic capabilities for the duration of the eight-day treatment.
Ginseng Tea and Sexual Health
No, we’re not joking. Ginseng Tea benefits sexual vitality in many ways, particularly in men. It is not uncommon for men of a certain age to start experiencing erectile dysfunction, which is a condition characterised by an inability to get or maintain an erection.
Asian Ginseng, in particular, has long been used to treat impotence. In one 2002 study published in the Journal of Urology, 45 male participants with clinically diagnosed erectile dysfunction were split into two groups, the first group consuming Korean Ginseng and the second group being given a placebo.
The group consuming the herb took 900 milligrams three times a day for eight weeks, with the results indicating that Ginseng Improved Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms compared with the placebo group.
Ginseng Tea and the Immune System
All types of Ginseng can ward off minor colds and flu owing to each one containing high levels of Vitamin C. This potentially applies to not only Ginsengs of the Panax genus but also to Siberian Ginseng, also.
During the 1950’s, Soviet scientists researched the Eleutherococcus senticosus plant extensively; however, following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Siberian Ginseng has seldom been examined since. Nevertheless, the research accumulated during the Cold War suggests that this herb, like its relatives, can support the immune system.
Ginseng Tea and Cancer
The research is preliminary but promising nonetheless: Ginseng Tea can potentially, reduce the risks of developing certain types of cancer. It is vital to note, however, that there are no published clinical trials evaluating the cancer-fighting efficacy of Ginseng in a human population.
Nevertheless, Ginseng has been studied as a chemopreventive and an agent to improve one’s quality of life among patients with cancer.
A study of 905 cancer cases in Korea suggested that frequent ginseng intake could correlate with reduced cancer incidence. Despite this, further research will need to replicate this study to confirm or refute these findings.
Ginseng Tea and Energy Levels
American, Korean and Siberian Ginseng are all entirely caffeine-free, so many readers may, by now, be wondering how these herbs can supposedly support one’s energy levels.
Fatigue and poor sleep are notoriously common in those suffering from fibromyalgia. In one recent randomised, double-blind, controlled clinical trial, researchers compared Ginseng to both placebo and amitriptyline, the most commonly used drug (an antidepressant) for fibromyalgia, and found some surprising results.
Over twelve weeks, 38 female participants with fibromyalgia, aged between 27 and 58, were given 100 milligrams of Asian Ginseng, 25 milligrams of amitriptyline or a placebo per day.
The herb was standardised so that it contained 27% ginsenosides. By the third week of treatment, Ginseng benefits included improvement in fatigue by 25.9%. By the twelfth week, fatigue had been reduced by 46.5% while sleep quality improved by 44.3%.
Ginseng Tea Weight Loss
This isn’t another “lose 7 pounds in 7 days” ploy. We’re not here to tout “fake news” - we’re here to offer the facts. And that is why we can confidently tell you that the frequent consumption of Ginseng benefits your weight management capabilities.
But how? Providing one exercises frequently and eats healthily, American Ginseng further stimulates weight loss by boosting the metabolic rate of the body, particularly when it comes to metabolising carbohydrates. A boosted metabolism enables the body to burn fat quicker and more efficiently. In turn, periods of exercise produce greater results.
Additionally, American Ginseng, as well as almost all types of Ginseng, can act as an appetite suppressant, thus helping your portion control. These elements combined could mean you’re “beach ready” in no time at all.
Ginseng Side Effects
Preliminary research has suggested that the ginsenosides found in American and Chinese Ginseng could have effects on one’s hormones when consumed for extended periods. The most common side effect, however, is insomnia, which is contrary to some studies. The bottom line is that, like almost all Herbal remedies, Ginseng may affect different people in different ways.
Far less common side effects include, but are not limited to, increased heart rate, high or low blood pressure, headaches and loss of appetite. Again, we must stress that these side effects are extremely uncommon, but The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company recommend medical consultation should any of these occur nonetheless.
Where can I buy Ginseng Tea
We think it’s time we talked about our Teas, don’t you? You’ve discovered the history; you’ve uncovered Ginseng Benefits; you even know the difference between each type, and what each one can offer as an individual entity.
All of these fantastic qualities and more are waiting to be experienced first hand when one chooses a Ginseng Tea from The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.
Red Ginseng Tea
The term “Red Ginseng” is yet another way to describe Asian Ginseng. To this, we add only the finest quality Sencha Green Tea leaves for a blend like no other. I
t is a sweet, earthy infusion with almost citrusy undertones. Notably fresh and unmistakably flavoursome, Red Ginseng Tea is a delight to the senses.
Ginseng Root Herbal Tea
For those who prefer the less conventional, we have our Ginseng Root Herbal Tea, which is made from the root of the Eleutherococcus senticosus plant. The defined earthiness of Ginseng Herbal Tea evokes images of country walks in the rain.
It is fresh, grassy and ever so slightly sweet. Best of all, this Tea offers a smooth and refreshing aftertaste that lingers on the palate long after one has drained their cup.
Ginseng Oolong Tea
If Green Tea is too grassy and Black Tea is too malty, then Oolong Tea is the perfect middleground. Better still, our Ginseng Oolong Tea offers all the benefits of Oolong Tea as well as Ginseng benefits.
Aside from being a semi-fermented Tea, Ginseng Oolong Tea has liquorice root added during the processing of the leaf, which adds a distinct sweetness to the brew. Furthermore, this beverage boasts usual earthy notes with unusually minty afternotes.
This beverage is our Black Tea version of Ginseng. It is arguably the most popular, too. From the very first sip, this Chinese Black Tea offers a wonderfully malty-earthy fusion of flavour with delectable floral overtones and a slightly tart aftertaste.
As well as being scrumptious, Ginseng Tea is likewise offers the well-documented Ginseng benefits of Black Tea, making it all the more desirable!