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What is ginseng tea?

15 Sep 2021 • 2 min read

Ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. Traditionally it has always been used to improve health.

Taking its name from the Greek word ‘panacea’, which means ‘cure all’, panax ginseng (also known as Asian, Chinese, Manchurian, Korean or red ginseng) has always been seen as something of great value.

Many believe that ginseng has means of boosting your energy, supporting your immune system and help your mental performance. Couple these qualities with the phenomenon that is herbal tea, and you have ginseng tea.

All these healthy attributes in one tea bag! Surely it can’t be true?  Read on and we’ll tell you all there is to know.

What is ginseng tea?

Ginseng tea is made from the root of the ginseng plant. It’s well known for its alleged ability to boost energy.

While ginseng tea has been around for many years, its popularity has grown in more modern times as herbal teas have taken more of a centre stage.

For many years, Koreans have been using ginseng tea to help improve their energy, while many also drink ginseng wine which is thought to improve vigour and vitality.1

Today, herbal teas are becoming more and more popular. There are numerous options out there, so it stands to reason why you would consider ginseng tea over any other.

What does ginseng tea taste like?

While ginseng tea may be energising, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It has quite a unique, bitter taste with earthy, warming notes. 

Many people add honey, lemon or ginger to add a bit of sweetness or flavour.

Benefits of ginseng tea

Ginseng tea offers a whole host of advantages for your body. Here are 5 of its top health benefits:

  1. May improve your energy levels

Studies into ginseng have shown that it may in fact help improve your energy and fight fatigue.

One study looked at the effects of giving 1 gram, two grams or a placebo to 90 people of the course of a month. 

Results found that the group given ginseng experienced less mental and physical fatigue to those taking the placebo.2

  1. May improve brain function

Ginseng could help improve brain functions such as memory, behaviour and mood.3,4

One particular study looked 30 healthy people who had 200 mg of ginseng daily for four weeks. By the end of the study, research showed that there was an improvement in mental health, social functioning and mood.

However, by the end of the trial it was considered that the effects of ginseng decreased after eight weeks and so extended use is not thought to be beneficial.5

  1. May help immunity

Ginseng is considered to help your immune system by increasing white blood cell activity in your body.

One research study suggest that a daily dose of ginseng could help fight off the common cold and other viruses by keeping on top of your body’s immunity.6

  1. May improve heart health

Some studies suggest that ginseng can lower blood pressure, protect against heart failure and help maintain healthy cholesterol by increasing circulation and helping the regulation of blood lipids (fats).7

In a 2012 review, studies concluded that “the collective data conclusively indicates that ginseng protects from myocardial damage”.8

  1. It’s easy to add to your diet

Ginseng tea is easy to add to your daily routine. Where you might have a cup of tea or coffee, you can replace it with a drink of ginseng tea.

Can you make ginseng tea yourself?

Yes, you can.

To do this, just add hot water to freshly sliced ginseng and let it soak for several minutes.

Uses of ginseng tea

Ginseng tea is taken orally and drank as a hot beverage. Always follow the instruction on the packaging as dosage will depend on the type of ginseng.

If you have any concerns you should always ask your GP or pharmacist before consumption.

Types of ginseng tea

There are two main types of ginseng tea, oriental ginseng and American ginseng.

Oriental ginseng is grown in China and Korea. It generally consists of red panax and white ginseng. White ginseng coms from the natural, dry root of the of the oriental ginseng plant.

The most popular type of ginseng, red panax is made by steaming the Korean White Ginseng root. Normally this is steamed for around eight to ten hours and left to dry.

The resulting ginseng is red and is generally considered to be of higher potency than white ginseng.

American ginseng is native to Eastern North America.

Its range spans from Southern Ontario to Georgia and as far west as Wisconsin. Most Oriental and American ginseng that is used has been cultivated since wild ginseng is now rare.

Ginseng tea dosage

You should always read the dosage provided on the packaging if you are buying ginseng tea from a Holland & Barrett store or supermarket.

Otherwise, ginseng should be used over long periods.

Asian ginseng should not be used for longer than three months at a time.

Siberian ginseng should not be used for any more than two months at a time and American ginseng should only be used for up to a month at a time.

If you are concerned about the use of ginseng tea, you should speak with your GP.

Side effects of ginseng tea

The most common side effects of drinking ginseng tea, include:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Feeling agitated
  • Upset stomach
  • Change to blood pressure

With Siberian ginseng, you may also experience drowsiness, nervousness or mood changes.

If any of these side effects persist or worse, then you should contact your GP or a health professional for further advice.

Is ginseng tea safe for everyone?

Ginseng is considered safe for everyone. However, it’s important that you stick to dosage guidelines to avoid later complications.

Where can I buy ginseng tea?

Ginseng tea is widely available and can be found in most shops and supermarkets.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 15 September 2021


Amy Talbot


Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: August 2005

Amy originally started her career with Holland & Barrett in August 2005 with the Labelling Regulatory team for Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements. 

Amy moved over to support the Food Regulatory Team in October 2020 and was promoted to her role of Regulatory Affairs Associate (Food) in February 2021.

In her spare time, Amy likes to go to the gym, listen to a variety of podcasts, read and socialise with friends.

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