Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial plant with big fleshy roots that comes from Asia. Ginger is a tuber from Southern Asia. Both ginseng tea and ginger tea are made from the roots of these plants. Both teas are used in herbal medicine and are prepared in the same basic ways using slices of the roots, dried, powdered preparations or in prepared tea bags. The similarity of the names of these two herbs can be confusing.
Ginseng tea is bright yellow in color and offers the drinker a sharp, metallic taste, rather like licking a penny. It leaves a strong aftertaste Chinese herbalists describe as “golden”. Ginseng is definitely an acquired taste. Ginger tea, on the other hand, is popular for its pungent taste. It sweetens well and takes on the reddish brown “ginger” color of the ground spice.
Ginseng tea is generally made by placing slices of ginseng root into a cup, adding hot water and steeping for 4 to 5 minutes. The longer it steeps, the stronger it is. You can reuse the ginseng for 2 to 3 cups. Ginger is made with thin slices in the same way, by placing slices in a cup of hot water and allowing it to steep. Ginger takes twice as long to steep, 5 to 10 minutes, compared to Ginseng. Both teas can be sweetened to taste, but Ginger tea needs it less. Some folks add only lemon to ginger tea and find it sweet enough.
Ginger Tea is known for its effect on digestion and pain. It is reported to have a settling effect on upset stomachs, relieve nausea and flatulence and prevent motion sickness and dizziness. Ginger also is used to control chronic pain and symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism and general muscle pain and reduces symptoms of colds, allergies and respiratory problems. Ginseng is noted for its effects on the brain. Ginseng tea is used to increase reaction time, improve mental clarity and increase resistance to stress. Ginseng has also been reported to boost resistance to viruses and infections and reduce risk of cancer and diabetes.