This rather intriguing product has been sitting in my kitchen cabinet since I picked it up in Ottawa’s Chinatown way back in January. It rather caught my eye because, as you can see, if you look closely, that the bottle contains a whole, albeit small, Ginseng root. Anyway, after having forgotten it about for so long, it was high time I got around to tasting it.
The drink is produced in China (although the Ginseng used is listed as being Korean). The ingredients, aside from the Sodium Benzoate used as a preservative, are limited to distilled water, honey, and ginseng root. My only other real experience with Ginseng has been in tea blend (where the other components were quite strong tasting), so I figured that the ginseng flavor should be quite plainly apparent and relatively unadulterated in this beverage.
The aroma has a rich earthiness, rather reminiscent of a freshly-ploughed field, and this is the basic component of the taste. The honey must be used in very small quantities only as the sweetness is very mild and doesn’t quite cover a slight bitter quality right at the end. Beyond the earthiness, there are woody notes, and even a faint nuttiness, while the dominant component towards the very end is a taste very similar to raw potato, or canned water chestnuts.
I can’t say I especially enjoyed the beverage over much. It wasn’t bad but it’s not something I would choose as a drink any time soon. I rather suspect that this is actually a product sold for its supposed health benefits rather than taste enjoyment. The root is widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is supposed, among other things, to boost energy, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and even act as an aphrodisiac. I’ll pass on commenting on the veracity of those claims, but, suffice it to say, I didn’t feel particularly energetic or… well, frisky, after I finished my bottle.