Herbal teas, also commonly referred to as tisanes or herbal infusions, aren’t made with the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant like traditional teas. Rather, they are brewed by steeping herbs, spices, fresh or dried flowers, seeds, stems, fruit, bark, and roots in hot water.
There are numerous herbal teas available today, each with its own distinctive flavor, aroma, and appearance. As with traditional teas, herbal teas have unique origins and histories attached to them.
Corn tea, for example, is one popular tisane that originated in Korea. Also known as Oksusu-cha, it is a popular drink choice in Korea because of its mild flavor that is easy on the stomach. It is so gentle, in fact, that it can be consumed with or without food.
This Korean herbal infusion is made and enjoyed all year long. In fact, it is consumed with the frequency that others might drink water. Savored as a warm brew during the fall and winter months, it is also served and sipped on as a cool refresher during the warmer parts of the year. Being a popular choice in many households and throughout the country, it is served in many Korean restaurants as well.
Preparing the Corn
Corn tea is made by simply steeping corn kernels in hot water. In order to make this infusion, however, the kernels need to first be prepared. Getting the kernels ready is relatively easy, as they are dried and roasted over medium heat. Once they have turned dark brown in color, the kernels can be used to brew corn tea.
If you are not buying pre-roasted corn tea, drying the kernels yourself is easy. All you will need is a dry pan and a stove. Simply place the corn into the pan and swirl them around every few minutes over medium heat until they reach the correct color. The whole process should take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.
Purchasing Corn Tea
This tisane can be purchased as whole kernels or crushed up in tea bags. Although the tea bags are more convenient and brew quicker, the whole kernels provide a more flavorful beverage. It has also been noted that the whole kernels are better for hot brews, while the crushed kernels in the tea bags help to create a superior cold brew.
Brewing Corn Tea
Whether you want a delicious hot cup of this tisane or you are looking for a thirst-quenching cup of cold tea, corn tea is easy to brew. For this hot brew recipe, it is recommended that you use 4 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of whole kernels. You will also need a kettle, a strainer, and cups to drink out of. This recipe will make 4 servings.
- Fill the kettle with the measured-out portions of water and kernels. For the tastiest results possible, it is recommended that you use spring water.
- Bring this mixture to a boil and allow it to continue to boil for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up, strain out the kernels and enjoy a fresh hot cup of corn tea.
For a cold brew, it is recommended that you use 32 oz of cool or room temperature water and 1 tea bag. As with the other recipe, spring water is suggested as it will result in the best-tasting brew.
- Place the water and tea bag in a large pitcher. Cover the pitcher and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- When the time is up, remove the tea bag and pour the brew into a cup filled with ice.
Appearance, Aroma, & Flavor
As you might be able to imagine, corn tea is light yellow in color and has an aroma resembling that of corn. Some have also described the smell as being more like popcorn. As for the taste, many have said it is slightly sweet, earthy and mild.
Enhancing the Taste
For a stronger flavor, it is suggested to allow the whole kernels to steep for longer than 10 minutes. Similarly, if you want a milder flavor, shorten the steeping time until the desired flavor is achieved. If you are looking to brew a corn tea with a flavor twist, you can add barley to the steeping corn kernels.
Nutrition & Potential Benefits
Naturally caffeine-free, one cup of corn tea contains zero calories, fats, proteins, and carbs. Although the amount can vary depending on brewing method and the amount of kernels used, this tisane does contain some sugar.
Although it has not been studied, it is thought by some that corn tea could potentially help with:
- Boosting energy levels
- Regulating blood pressure
- Aiding in digestion
This herbal infusion is often confused with another similar tisane, corn silk tea. Where corn tea is made by steeping roasted corn kernels with hot water, corn silk tea is brewed by steeping the silkly whitish-yellow strands that encapsulate a corn cob in hot water. Both tisanes are made by steeping different parts of the same plant and they offer different subtle flavors.
This herbal tea, which originated in Korea, is still widely loved and enjoyed there today. Also known by its Korean name, Oksusu-cha, it has started to gain popularity around the world due to the internet. Best known for its mild, sweet, and popcorn flavor, it is a perfect choice for those who would like to explore caffeine-free beverages.
Corn tea can be enjoyed both hot and cold (served over ice), making it an excellent drink for any time of year. Since it is very mild and slightly sweet, it doesn’t need anything added to it and can easily take the place of drinking plain water each day. Due to its gentle nature, it can also be enjoyed with or without food. If you are looking to expand your herbal tea horizons, this intriguing and light tisane is for you.