Ginseng is a buzzword in the healthy product community, and you’ve likely had it at some point in your life. It’s a popular natural herb throughout Asia and North America that has many medicinal properties. It’s typically mixed into other products like candy and tea, which leaves people wondering, what does ginseng actually taste like?
Well, the thing is that unless you buy and prepare your own, you may never know. Ginseng is masked by other flavors in tea and other products because it’s very bitter. While some people love bitter tastes, others may not be crazy about it. So, let’s look at ginseng and answer the question ‘what does it taste like?’
What is Ginseng?
To start, we need to go over what ginseng actually is. The word ginseng is slapped onto labels of lots of products including energy drinks, candy, and tea. Most people don’t take the time to look into what something is, and knowing it’s supposed to be healthy is usually enough to get you to buy it.
Ginseng is a plant that grows in North America and Asia and is harvested for its root. That’s where all the health benefits come from. It's a light-colored root that’s shaped like a fork with oval-shaped leaves. It’s been used as a natural remedy for various health issues for centuries.
Health Benefits of Ginseng
Before we get into figuring out what ginseng actually does taste like, it’s important to understand the health benefits. While there isn’t a lot of concrete research on the benefits, ginseng has been a trusted medicinal remedy all over the world for a long time. There are 11 different varieties, so depending on which you choose the potency can be different. This can alter how beneficial ginseng can be as far as health benefits go. Before using ginseng to try to treat a medical issue at home, always consult with your doctor.
Ginseng Can Give You an Energy Boost
The most common place you’re going to find ginseng is tea and energy drinks. For example, Monster Energy lists ginseng as one of its top ingredients on the can. It’s also right on the front of AriZona Beverage Company’s green tea products.
Research has shown that ginseng promotes an increase in energy, so it’s a great companion to caffeine. If you deal with chronic fatigue, adding ginseng to your diet can help you naturally increase your energy levels, as well.
It Can Help Regulate Blood Sugar
Ginseng may also lower and regulate blood sugar levels to treat diabetes. You don’t have to have diabetes to utilize ginseng for blood sugar regulation. In fact, incorporating ginseng into your diet could help you curb sugar cravings. Research has shown that ginseng can improve pancreatic cell function and insulin production, which can help your body with sugar absorption into tissue so there is less build-up.
It May Boost Immunity
In the world we’re living in, any little bit of immunity-boosting can help. Ginseng can help increase immunity, so adding it to your diet won’t hurt.
Helps You Focus
Since ginseng is typically found in caffeinated products like tea, it should come as no surprise that it can help you focus. There is evidence from research that shows ginseng can give you a short-term boost in concentration. So, grabbing a tea with ginseng for your study session may help you get that paper finished on time.
If you have arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, you may not care about what ginseng tastes like, but what does it do for your body? When dealing with chronic inflammation in your joints or other parts of the body, you know how painful it can be. Ginseng is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which can aid in reducing inflammation. Studies have shown that ginseng extracts could potentially stop inflammation in its tracks and increase antioxidant capacities.
What Does Ginseng Taste Like?
Now, to answer the burning question of ‘what does ginseng taste like?’ There’s a good chance if you’re reading this you’ve never had ginseng on its own. Since it’s usually added to other products, the taste of ginseng is typically masked very well. In fact, there is research that shows companies intentionally mask the taste of ginseng because of how bitter it is.
So, what does ginseng taste like? Well, it’s a root so ginseng is going to have a woody taste along with other flavors. Think about ginger, ginseng looks similar and has the same type of texture.
On its own, ginseng is extremely bitter with sweet undertones that can be hard to notice. When it’s completely raw, many people don’t enjoy the taste. The root texture can also be hard to deal with since it’s difficult to chew.
You can also get dried ginseng which will be chewy. The problem is that if it’s really dry, it can be too hard to chew and unmanageable. If you cook ginseng, it can become creamy but it’s very easy to overcook it. When it’s overcooked, ginseng turns into a pile of mush. The texture of ginseng is a big reason why you don’t see it in a lot of cooking recipes.
Does Ginseng Taste Like Ginger?
We’ve compared ginseng to ginger as far as appearance and texture go, but what about taste? Even though they are both roots, ginseng does not taste like ginger. If you’ve had ginger, you know it has a very distinct flavor. It’s spicy and can be overpowering if you use too much of it in a dish. Ginseng doesn’t have the spicy taste to it as ginger does, just the powerful bitterness. Sometimes you’ll find ginger and ginseng in the same products, which can make it easy to assume they taste the same.
How to Use Ginseng
Now that you know all about what ginseng tastes like and what it does for you, it’s time to add it to your diet. Cooking with ginseng is not ideal, especially if you’re starting out. Your best bet with ginseng is going to be drinking it in tea or taking a supplement. When you take ginseng supplements, make sure to read the directions on the bottle because some of them require you to take them with food while others may not. Again, always consult with your doctor before adding a new supplement to your diet.
If you’re new to ginseng but want to incorporate it into your diet, try tea first. You can purchase teas that have ginseng in them, but it’s important to look at the ingredient list. Companies like AriZona Beverage Company have gotten in trouble in the past for advertising ginseng in their green tea when there actually wasn’t any in it.
We know you’re busy, so finding ginseng and preparing it for tea on your own might not be in the cards. Don’t worry, there are options out there that aren’t sugary energy drinks!
There are plenty of teas on the market that advertise ginseng as the main ingredient, but when you read the fine print you’ll find that there isn’t much in there. To be sure you’re getting a good amount of ginseng, we recommend Half Day’s Geen Tea with Honey and Ginseng. It tastes just as good as other brands without all the junk. Along with the benefits of ginseng, you’ll get 5g of plant fiber that provide prebiotics to feed the good bacteria in your gut!
Another great way to incorporate ginseng into your diet is to take dietary supplements. We recommend Care/Of focus supplements from Target. They’re gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan so you know you’re getting the good stuff.
If you were looking to figure out what ginseng actually does taste like, you came to the right place. We’re glad you didn’t run out and buy a ginseng root to try cooking with it because that bitterness can be a real bummer. The good news is there are plenty of healthy options for getting ginseng into your diet that mask the taste!