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Mushroom tea? Purely medicinal of course.

December 30, 2008

I’m a self indulgent fungi lover, pizza, pasta, soups, anything hot should have some form of mushroom. Except when it comes to mushrooms in my tea, unless it’s medicinal, I don’t care for it.

Mushrooms and fine dining have been together for some time. It’s common for people to gasp over truffles, shitakes, porcinis while eating. In Asia, there is a whole other world, possibly unknown to many, where mushrooms and other fungi are used specifically for herbal medicines.

Oriental medicine is encompassed in everyday Korean life and Seoul has to have one of the finest and largest Oriental Medicine markets in the Asian sphere – Gyeongdong. Over 1000 markets and stalls gather in one small area of Seoul everyday, and  everyday, sellers meet buyers giving useful advice and for the right price, quality medicine.

Herbal medicine doesn’t stop at fungi. It includes mixtures of plants, berries, dried flower pods, rose-like thorned branches, and deer antlers. For someone who knows absolutely nothing about oriental herbals and medicine, I wouldn’t know how to use these herbs. Although I was told that most of them go into a form of tea. Of course decaffeinated but still very much tea.

You do need a Korean speaker with you if you’re planning on buying something in the market. Some of the vendors are friendly and will try to speak English with you, but if you want specific information, a dictionary won’t cut it.  I really wanted to know more about some of the fungi at the markets: like how do you get one of these saucer sized beauties downsized into a pot for one?


by Cate

What about the taste? A little musty, moldy, mildewy. Will honey kill the taste, or will the taste kill me?

by Cate

My mother always warned against eating brightly coloured fungi.

by Cate

by Cate

The market also supplies some of the best herbal medicinal teas around. From dried and fresh Korean ginseng, jujube, green tea of various strengths, balloon flower, rosebuds, chrysanthemums, the list is endless.

by Cate

by Cate

There they sit, in bags, defrosting from the icy winter winds. Waiting to be drunk.

by Cate

by Cate

Gyeongdong Oriental Medicine market is located in Jegi dong. As soon as you come up from the subway your nose will find it. The earthy, wooden fragrances mixed with hints of berries and spices, is an aroma different from temples, churches and full bodied wines. These fragrances are purely, medicinal.

Gyeongdong Market, Jegi dong, subway line 1: exit 3,4,5,6.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. Johnnie Sielbeck permalink
    December 30, 2008 2:36 pm

    Just found your blog and these posts are so much fun — thanks! I’ll be back!

    • December 31, 2008 9:03 am

      Hi Johnnie- welcome! Thanks for your comment, hope to see you return and add more comments on my posts.
      Happy 2009!

  2. January 1, 2009 5:11 pm

    Happy New Years, Cate. A nice cup of mushroom tea sounds like a great way to launch into the new year.

    • January 3, 2009 11:42 am

      Yes mushroom tea for New Years is a rather unusual way to go. Maybe good for post New Years eve partying.
      Happy 09 to you as well. I have enjoyed reading everybodys comments including yours (and your rather cool blog!)
      safe travels

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