From traditional tea to soju spirit to medicinal and herbal drinks. Iin Korea, the tea culture from preparation to drinking, is traditionally regarded less as a beverage and more as an experience. The experience is described as the one that appeals to all five senses.
We round up 10 of the best Korean drinks. Including tips on pairing them with authentic Korean recipes.
Korea’s signature spirit, soju is a clear, colourless liquor, traditionally made from rice, wheat, barley or potatoes. Served neat, it’s the ideal accompaniment to Korean barbecue dishes such as galbi.
Crisp and cleansing, Korean beer is the perfect antidote to some of the spicier Korean recipes, such as . Korean beer is generally made from rice, and the most popular brands, such as Hite, OB and Cass, are styled upon American lagers.
For a Korean twist on red wine, try bokbunja, made by fermenting native blackberries with water. This sweet, ruby-hued wine can be matched to light fish dishes or chargrilled octopus, and is also rumored to have aphrodisiac properties.
The oldest known alcohol in Korea, makegolli is an unfiltered rice spirit with a milky, opaque colour. It’s natural sweetness and smooth texture make it a great partner to Korean savoury pancakes.
Known as a yakju (medicinal wine), sansachun is made from the red sansa fruit. This sweet-and-sour wine is designed to stimulate the appetite, so it’s ideal as an aperitif.
Korea has a strong and colourful tea culture, with myriad teas to try. One of our favourites is omija, which literally means ‘five-flavour berry’. Not only does it taste great, it also has medicinal benefits, including restoring your liver health – perfect if you’ve been indulging in the alcoholic selection above!
Similar to Japanese matcha, Korean nokcha is green tea, made from dried tea leaves and served hot or cold. Not only is it enjoyed as a beverage, it’s also used to flavour cakes, cookies and ice creams.
Watch the dried chrysanthemum flowers unfurl as you pour boiling water over them – this floral tea is pretty, delicious and nutritious!
Another must-have Korean tea is Yuja Cha. For a cleansing citrus hit, brew a batch of yuja cha, made from the aromatic yuzu fruit. Stir in honey or sugar for a restorative, refreshing tea break.
This caffeine-free tea is made from roasted unhulled barley and has a sweet, nutty and rich flavour.
Discover more about the world of Korean food and wine on Asian Inspirations.
Find your nearest Asian Store