Sujeonggwa is a little hard to define – it’s like a ginger cinnamon tea, but served cold and often as dessert. However, what you really need to know is it’s easy, gently sweet and delicious. Plus it feels like it will kick any cold to the curb!
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I’m going to preface this recipe with memories it conjured up for me from another country. And I don’t mean “another” in the sense of not home, but as in not Korea, where this originates. But bear with me.
Many years ago now I visited Taiwan with my now husband. He was working, I was exploring which was the perfect arrangement, in many ways. Except the weather didn’t cooperate.
I had planned to do some hiking, but typhoons thought otherwise. We managed a visit to the Northern coast but it was wet and cloudy, so the views were limited.
We did, however, have a great explore of the village market. And while there, we tried this wonderful sweet ginger tea. It had a great kick to it, and was perfect for the poor weather. We liked it so much, we bought some to take home.
A few months later, when I was pregnant with my first son, I turned to ginger tea again. I was struggling big time to have energy later in the day at work and found this three ginger tea which gave me a nice pick me up, without the caffeine.
So funny enough, when I came across sujeonggwa, this Korean ginger and cinnamon tea, I knew I had to try it. Ginger and cinnamon are two favorite flavors, and even just the smell as they were cooking was almost enough to make it worth it.
Don’t worry, it tastes really good too.
This tea or punch, as you might call it, is typically served chilled. It’s popular for festivities, such as New Year, but you’ll also find it on the menu at many Korean restaurants as a dessert since it aids digestion.
How to make sujeonggwa
This cold ginger-cinnamon tea or punch is really easy to make, you just need a little patience.
- Peel and finely chop the ginger (I chose to make small strips to get better contact with the water, but thin slices would also work)
- Put the ginger and cinnamon sticks in a pot with water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Let it simmer for a good 40 minutes or more, strain then add sugar.
- Put the dried persimmon in the mixture, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Some recipes boil the ginger and cinnamon separately, but I can’t say I really understand why – I think it’s fine (and easier) to simmer together.
A note on ingredients
I recommend using as good cinnamon sticks as you can get, as you are really going to taste it. I found some lovely Ceylon cinnamon which has a great flavor (I found this article which summarizes some of the main differences in different cinnamons). You can see the lighter color compared to a Korintje cinnamon stick, above the other two, in the picture of the dry ingredients above.
You’ll see that you add some dried persimmon at the end – this helps add another level of flavor with a fruity edge. I found some at my local Korean supermarket, but if you can’t find them, you can miss them out. If added, then serve some in each serving. Whole is more traditional, but in pieces is a lot easier to eat.
Korean cinnamon tea benefits
Cinnamon and ginger both have anti-inflamatory and antioxidant properties. Ginger is understood to help with nausea, pain relief and cardiovascular health while cinnamon is anti-diabetic.
Now true, I know this drink has a decent amount of sugar in as well, but you can certainly reduce this, I feel, and it would still taste good. You do need some, I’d say, or it would be too sharp. The slight sweetness rounds out the flavor, but you could make it a bit less sweet than I did here (which is based on the many recipes I drew on). Plus, the sugar far from cancels out the benefits, not to mention tastiness.
This Korean cinnamon tea may not be your typical dessert, or tea, but it’s definitely one to enjoy soon. Which isn’t hard, since it’s easy to make. The combination of ginger and cinnamon gives such a wonderful warm spice flavor, sujeonggwa is something special.
Try these other spiced drinks:
- Spiked mulled apple cider
- Warm spiced cranberry cocktail (or mocktail)
- Plus see more drinks recipes and Korean recipes in the archives.
Sujeonggwa (Korean cinnamon tea)
- 1 oz fresh ginger 30g, giving around 1/4 cup/ 27g thin strips once peeled
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cups water 900ml
- 1/2 cup sugar 90g, white or brown, as you prefer/have
- 2 dried persimmon (if available)
- 12 pine nuts to serve
- Peel the ginger and cut into thin strips. Place the ginger and cinnamon sticks in a pot with the water and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer for around 40 minutes. The cooking liquid will become a deep red-orange color.
- Strain the ginger and cinnamon from the tea and add the sugar. Stir it in so that it fully dissolves. Add the dried persimmon, allow to cool to just slightly warm before refrigerating overnight.
- Serve cold, ideally in small bowls, with some of the soaked persimmon in each bowl (either leave one whole or, cut up which is easier to eat). Top with a couple pine nuts.
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