Brighten Your Summer (And Skin) With Korean Teas

By Minji

  • Tea is especially good for the hot summer time as it can help your body release heat
  • To brighten your day and skin, consider trying these traditional Korean teas touted for their skin health benefits
  • Make sure to indulge in the meditative experience of tea brewing and drinking as well!

I’m a huge tea lover.  I love the taste of many varieties but tea represents so much more than just another type of food or drink.  In addition to the obvious taste, there’s the sensorial experiences of delighting in the fragrant smell, looking at and appreciating the delicate tea leaves swirling and eventually calming down in water and also feeling the warmth or coolness of the beverage, depending on how you prepare your tea.

No wonder why many Asian countries, including Korea, have long traditions of tea ceremonies where preparing and drinking tea turns into a type of meditation or quiet celebration. 

Tea is especially good for the hot summer time.  If you live an area where the summer heat can be intense and exhausting, you might be reaching more often these days for a cold drink to provide reprieve from the heat. However, according to many ancient Eastern medicine traditions, drinking hot tea in summer can have a greater cooling effect on our bodies over ice-cold brews. 

Growing up in Seoul, during the summer I would often here the phrase, “fight heat with heat,” and indulge in hot soups or teas to rejuvenate myself during the harsh summer months. Scientifically, there’s some truth to this as when you drink hot tea, sweat is produced and your body releases heat as a result.

My usual go-to when it comes to tea is green tea but there are so many other wonderful types of lesser-known teas beloved and consumed for centuries in Korea.  Many of them also are great for skin health and now easily accessible even in the U.S. (thank you, Amazon!), I wanted to introduce them to you to help brighten your summer and your skin!       

Chrysanthemum (Gukhwa) tea

Chrysanthemum tea is known to clear and detoxify the blood, prevent heat from accumulating in the body and aid in digestion.  Thanks to these traits, many people believe it will also help clear up your skin and also boost a glow.  It also comes with a slightly floral and sweet aroma which can be amazing. If you decide to try it, I recommend you get in loose leaf form so that you can see the gorgeous blossoms come to life in your tea cup!

Adlay (Yulmu) tea

This is one of my favorite types of traditional Korean tea that people drink everywhere and anytime in Seoul, but you just don’t see as much here in the States.  Thankfully, if you’re interested, you can easily find this tea in Korean supermarkets or even on Amazon. 

It’s a bit weird to describe this one as a “tea” since anyone who’s tried it will know that the texture of this drink is much thicker and almost like a smoothie or thin oatmeal drink.  For this reason, in Seoul, it’s often used as a convenient breakfast replacement.    

Adlay, also known as Job’s tears, resembles barley and is high in protein, potassium, iron and calcium.  It has a creamy and sweet flavor that I love.  In Korea, people believe adlay tea can help fight hyperpigmentation and sun damage on the skin.

Schizandra Berry (Omija) Tea

Omija, a small red berry, literally means “five-flavor berry" and has all five basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, spicy and bitter.  Traditionally known for its medicinal properties, it is said to be help keep your skin and hair vibrant looking and also help with hair loss.  Overall, it has a bright and citrusy taste that reminds me of a delicious herbal tea.  I personally love it both cold and hot with a tiny bit of honey.   

Korean Plum (Maesil) tea

Very popular in Korea during the summer time, maesil, a small green sour plum, is packed with antioxidants and known to help detoxify and energize your body aiding with liver and kidney functions.  If you’re looking for it, you’ll see that it often comes in syrup form with honey or sugar added (then you can just dilute it with water and drink as cold or hot tea).  As for skin benefits, people say it can help firm up skin and also help in clearing acne.