While six or seven types of ginseng are known worldwide, the most common types are the Asian Ginseng, the American Ginseng and the Siberian Ginseng. The Asian ginseng root, whose shape resembles the human body, is categorized as a different species from the American or Siberian types. To distinguish it from other ginseng grown in the world, all of the ginseng cultivated in Korea is referred to as Goryeo ginseng.
Goryeo ginseng is a perennial, shade loving plant, and as mentioned, the root forms “legs” and a “trunk” like a human body. A cultivated ginseng plant can take from four to six years to grow, from selecting the seeds to harvesting, and the more attention given to cultivation, the greater its medicinal effect. Korea has the optimal conditions for ginseng, whose cultivation requires the right natural environment. It is particularly sensitive to climate, to the amount of sunlight, and to soil. Considered a cure for various illnesses even in modern times, Goryeo ginseng has more effectiveness than any other type of ginseng and is effective towards prevention and treatment of most diseases. Compared to western medicine, which targets specific parts of the body or problems, but, Hongsam is beneficial to one’s whole body system. That is why, Goryeo ginseng is more expensive than other kinds of ginseng.
In Korea, ginseng can be classified according to its cultivation method called jaebaesam is field-cultivated ginseng, while sansam ginseng grows naturally in the mountains, and jangnoesam ginseng is grown by humans, but left to grow naturally in the mountains. The plant can also be classified according to the processing method called Susam, Baeksam or Hongsam.
Susam is ginseng from the water fields. While it is used for freshness in various dishes, it is not suitable for long-term storage because of its high moisture content.
Baeksam, which is four-years-old sun-dried ginseng, is usually used as a medicinal herb.
Hongsam is four-to six-year-old ginseng, which has undergone a process of repeated steaming and drying, which gives it a blackish-red color. Because the moisture has been eliminated, hongsam can be stored for years and provides eight additional beneficial ingredients. It is a good choice for those who cannot tolerate susam. That is why many foreigner buy Hongsam.
Sansam has the same medicinal properties as Insam but is much more effective than the other ginseng. Sansam is grown naturally in the mountains and is called ‘Bullocho (herb of immortality)’. Because of this, Sansam costs is without limitation for very rare to find. A person who finds Sansam is called as ‘Simmani’ in Korea. .Simmanies normally do their excavating work in a 4 to 8 person group in the remote mountains. It has been said that only a person chosen by god can dig sansam. Also, there are some Korean superstitions about Simmani such as Simmanies must not drink alcohol and eat meat or fish prior to visiting the mountains. Simmanies prohibit killing animals or doing bad behaviors that may incur the god’s anger for a few days before they visit the mountains. Some time, common people can get Sansam, who have very heavy sickness family member or who always good thing to people or creature, looks like bonus.
Believed to increase longevity if taken for a long time, ginseng not only protects the heart, liver, and the lungs, but also prevents cancer and fights infections. It helps prevent fatigue and increases energy, as well as promotes blood circulation to prevent anemia. Those who are recovering from major illness or surgery, or are overworked can benefit from the effects of ginseng.
Because ginseng can help enhance immunity and rapidly combat inflammation, it is recommended for patients with cancer, rheumatism tuberculosis, or senile anemia. Ginseng is also effective in controlling blood pressure, both high and low (However, a person with high blood pressure or a serious illness should be cautious). The list of beneficial effects goes on and on: it is effective in treating gynecological and pediatric diseases and is thought to protect the body from radiation. For many centuries it has been known as the elixir of life, and is still considered as the best of the Oriental herbal medicines.
The best way to consume Susam is to chew it raw after a meal. Normally, it is better digested if taken after a simple, non-fatty meal.
However, the most typical Korean ginseng cuisine is the tasty and healthy Samgyetang. This rice-stuffed chicken dish actually doubles the efficacy of ginseng thanks to the highly nutritious glutinous rice, chestnuts, and jujubes. For those lacking energy, the bitter taste of ginseng can stimulate one’s appetite. No wonder Samgyetang is one of the most popular foods in Korea.
When choosing Sam, origin, age and style are important. The age of ginseng is particularly important, and most ginsengs on sale are between four to six years of age. After is check style with similar human body, roots with a smooth texture and a big strong head. While the price varies greatly according to size, a high price does not necessarily guarantee high quality.
When choosing Hongsam (red ginseng), hold the ‘legs’ up to the light: a good hongsam will be transparent and reddish. Also, this type of ginseng should reveal sufficient redness when sliced. Make sure you get a receipt for your goods when purchasing.
If you want it to be effective or store the ginseng more conveniently, 100% of Insam concentration liquor and Insam concentration powder are recommended. It is enough to mix 1-2 spoons of liquor or powder with water to try them. Buy Insamju (ginseng rice wine) for yourself or as a gift for an elderly person. Aged with a whole ginseng root inside, a bottle of insamju will not only be great to look at, but will make a very tasty drink.
Currently, Chinese ginseng is sometimes remade into Korean ginseng, which is not easy to distinguish between Chinese ginseng and Korean (Goryeo) ginseng even for Koreans. So it is recommended to buy ginseng products made by the Korea Ginseng Corporation and Nonghyup in shops such as department stores, Korean hongsam has a liver colored body and relatively light reddish brown colored root-like legs. When its body is cut, its annual ring is clear and obvious. On the other hand, Chinese hongsam has no flavor and smells like grass roots. It has a dark brown colored body and roots. When you cut its body, there is no clear annual ring.
The Gyeongdong Market in Seoul is also a great place to shop for ginseng. Ginseng from across the nation is brought here to the many ginseng wholesalers. The market also offers great shopping in the huge Oriental medicine mall. Cheong Kwan Jang is a brand name for six-year-old red ginseng products manufactured by the Korea Ginseng Corporation and exported to more than 40 countries around the world.