Traditionally, there are two main methods for making tea from ginseng root, though there are numerous kinds of ginseng, which vary slightly in their medicinal properties. Ginseng tea has been made and imbibed by the Chinese and Korean people for thousands of years.
The ginseng plant is primarily grown in Asia, although an American variety also exists. Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial with fleshy roots. The word ginseng comes from the Chinese word meaning "little man," due to the shape of the root. Most all ginsengs available are cultivated; wild ginseng is now rather rare. Generally, it is sold in herb shops either as a whole root or in slices.
To make ginseng tea, you can either make an infusion or a decoction. To make an infusion, pour boiling water over 3 to 5 slices of ginseng and allow it to steep for five minutes. The longer it steeps, the stronger the flavor will become (more bitter) and the more its healing properties will be extracted. To make a decoction, boil three cups of water, then add 8-10 slices of ginseng, and allow them to simmer for 15-20 minutes. You may want to add a small amount of honey, if the bitter flavor is too much for your palate.
It is recommended that ginseng be consumed daily, or while one is unwell, to receive its greatest benefits. In times of illness, ginseng is said to strengthen the immune system. Ginseng tea has traditionally been consumed as a tonic for improved energy and overall vitality. It is also said to help improve the nervous system and the reproductive system, particularly the male libido. The Chinese variety is renowned for its ability as an adaptogen, meaning that it can be either stimulating or calming, depending on what your body needs.