A cup of Ginseng Tea on a table.

What is Ginseng Tea?

A plant with roots on a white background used for ginseng tea.
Name of Tea:
Ginseng tea
Scientific Name:
Panax ginseng or Panax quinquefolius
Flavor Profile:
The flavor of ginseng tea is earthy, slightly bitter, and has a subtle sweetness.

Ginseng tea is a popular herbal infusion made from the ginseng plant that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and by Native Americans. With earthy, aromatic flavors and a range of potential health benefits, ginseng tea is worth learning more about.

A Brief History of Ginseng Tea

        Ginseng root for making tea on a wooden cutting board.

The use of ginseng as a medicinal herb traces back thousands of years in East Asia. Its first recorded use was in China around 2,000 BC, where it was considered a powerful tonic for boosting energy, stamina and overall wellbeing.

The ginseng plant is difficult to cultivate and requires very specific soil, climate and shade conditions to thrive. This led to ginseng becoming known as a precious, prestigious plant only affordable to royals and the upper class. 

Ginseng later spread to Korea and throughout other regions of Asia. It became an important herbal remedy and was traditionally simmered into teas, soups and tonics.

When ginseng was discovered in North America in the 1700s, it was quickly embraced by Native American tribes who used the root for its healing properties. Today, ginseng remains one of the most popular herbal teas globally.

How Ginseng Tea is Made

Authentic ginseng tea is made from the ginseng root, which lends an earthy, bittersweet flavor. The most common types are Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). The roots take around 4-6 years to fully mature. To make ginseng tea, the root is sliced and simmered in hot water until the flavors infuse. Slices or powder can also be steeped in pre-boiled water for a quicker cup. 

Dried ginseng root is the most widely available form for tea. For a balanced, fuller-bodied flavor, other herbs like licorice root or jujube berries are sometimes added. The tea has an aromatic, warming taste often enhanced with a bit of honey or lemon. Ginseng tea bags provide the simplest brewing method. Just steep a bag in hot water for 3-5 minutes.

The Health Benefits of Ginseng Tea

A woman is sitting on a couch with a cup of ginseng tea in front of a window.

For centuries, ginseng has been used as an herbal remedy thought to provide a variety of benefits. Some of these proposed benefits now have preliminary scientific evidence, though more research is still needed. 

Increased Energy & Endurance – Ginseng contains active compounds called ginsenosides that are believed to reduce fatigue and improve physical performance. In one study, athletes given ginseng extract for 8 weeks saw a 1-2% improvement in aerobic capacity and extended time to exhaustion compared to placebo [1].

Enhanced Brain Function – Animal studies and some human trials indicate ginseng may boost memory, mood and concentration by influencing neurotransmitter activity and boosting blood flow in the brain [2,3]. One study in healthy adults found 200mg ginseng daily improved mental arithmetic performance [4].

Immune System Support – Laboratory studies show ginseng has antiviral and antioxidant effects. A review of randomized controlled trials found people taking ginseng extracts saw a 35% relative risk reduction in common colds compared to placebo [5].

Heart Health – Research suggests ginseng may benefit the cardiovascular system by improving blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood circulation. A meta-analysis found 100-200mg ginseng daily significantly lowered systolic blood pressure [6].  

Anti-Inflammatory Effects – The ginsenosides in ginseng demonstrate anti-inflammatory actions in lab studies. This may help with inflammatory conditions, though human data is limited [7].

However, more research is still needed to confirm many proposed benefits of ginseng tea.

It’s always wise to consult your doctor before trying new herbal remedies, especially powerful teas such as ginseng.
TeaPot Kettle

Potential Side Effects of Ginseng Tea

When consumed in moderation, ginseng tea is generally safe for most people but can cause some side effects including:

  • Insomnia and restlessness due to its energizing effects
  • Headaches or dizziness 
  • Digestive issues like diarrhea or upset stomach
  • High blood pressure
  • Breast tenderness in women
  • Mood changes such as depression or anxiety

To be safe, consult your doctor before drinking ginseng tea if you take any medications or have a health condition. Avoid excessive use beyond recommended dosing. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not consume ginseng.

Caffeine Content in Ginseng Tea

Ginseng tea contains zero caffeine! Unlike traditional teas made from tea leaves, ginseng root does not naturally contain any caffeine. This makes it a nice evening option if you want a warm, flavorful drink without a caffeine boost. Any energizing effect would come from the natural ginsenosides.

One thing to check is whether any complementary herbs with caffeine, like green tea leaves, have been added to ginseng tea blends.

How to Make Ginseng Tea at Home  

It’s easy to DIY ginseng tea at home. To start, buy dried ginseng root slices or powder. Per cup of water use:

  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginseng root  
  • 3 to 5 thin slices ginseng root

Simmer the ginseng in water for 5-7 minutes until flavors infuse. For a richer tea, add honey, lemon juice or other herbs like licorice or ginger. You can also steep pre-sliced ginseng root in hot water for 5-7 minutes. Adjust amounts to taste.

Choosing a Quality Ginseng Tea

When shopping, look for ginseng tea made from 100% pure Korean or American ginseng root. The ingredient list should be simple.

Opt for certified organic if possible. Colors can range from light beige to amber to dark reddish tones. The tea should have an aromatic, earthy scent.

Well-stored ginseng keeps its potency for up to 3 years. High quality ginseng tea can be found in most health food stores, Asian markets and online.
TeaPot Kettle

So if you’re looking to add an energizing and uplifting new tea to your routine, give ginseng tea a try. Just be sure to consult your doctor first if you take any medications or have health conditions. Moderation and caution with use is advised. Brew yourself a steaming cup and enjoy those earthy ginseng flavors!


[1] Engels, H. J., & Wirth, J. C. (1997). Effects of ginseng supplementation on supramaximal exercise performance and short-term recovery. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 11(3), 168-171.

[2] Reay, J. L., Scholey, A. B., & Kennedy, D. O. (2010). Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults. Human psychopharmacology: clinical and experimental, 25(6), 462-471.

[3] Kennedy, D. O., & Scholey, A. B. (2003). Ginseng: potential for the enhancement of cognitive performance and mood. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 75(3), 687-700. 

[4] Kennedy, D. O., Scholey, A. B., & Wesnes, K. A. (2002). Modulation of cognition and mood following administration of single doses of Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and a ginkgo/ginseng combination to healthy young adults. Physiology & behavior, 75(5), 739-751.

[5] Seida, J. K., Durec, T., & Kuhle, S. (2009). North American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) Preparations for Prevention of the Common Cold in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011. 

[6] Buettner, C., Yeh, G. Y., Phillips, R. S., Mittleman, M. A., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2006). Systematic review of the effects of ginseng on cardiovascular risk factors. Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 40(1), 83-95.

[7] Jia, L., & Zhao, Y. (2009). Current evaluation of the millennium phytomedicine–ginseng (II): Collected chemical entities, modern pharmacology, and clinical applications emanated from traditional Chinese medicine. Chemistry & biodiversity, 6(10), 1571-1584.

Photo of author
A self-proclaimed tea explorer, Jess began her journey with tea as a hobby and it quickly blossomed into an enchanting love affair. From the rich, historical tapestries of traditional Chinese blends, to the modern twists of herbal infusions, there’s no leaf unturned.

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