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History Lifestyle Magazine

Korea Says Relax!

Traditional relaxation:

Relaxation comes in many forms. In this fast-paced world, it’s good to look after yourself, whether it’s through mindfulness, crafting, reading or any of the things that keep you calm; Relaxing is very important for our mental health and no matter what we do, we should do what makes us happy.

Here are some traditional methods of relaxation that we think are still relevant today.

Image Source: ©Jeju Island, REXLUNA, 23.09.18, www.pixabay.com

Traditional Korean gardens:

Where we relax can vary on how good we end up feeling. One of the best places to begin your path to relaxation and inner peace is in a traditional Korean garden. There are several traditional gardens yet to be found around South Korea that are steeped in history and surrounded by incredible vistas.

Traditional Korean gardens were often designed to include decorative pavilions from which the surrounding gardens could be enjoyed. These pavilions were used by aristocrats, and were either constructed in a cultivated garden or a natural area with its own view of the mountains or surrounding landscape. They served as a place of relaxation and enjoyment and as a place to receive others to be entertained. Playing chess, painting, resting and other leisurely activities were also practiced in these pavilions where the exceptional view and surrounding beauty could be enjoyed.

Image Source: ©Gyeongbok Palace, USAGI_POST, 23.09.18, www.pixabay.com

A cup full of goodness:

We know what you’re thinking – Sure! Admiring nature in a serene and historical setting is a great way to relax, but with so much going on, a person’s bound to grow thirsty and tired. What’s the answer?’

Tea. The answer is tea. Who doesn’t love tea? There is nothing more relaxing than sitting down with a good cup of cha, and the addition of sweets never hurt either.

The varieties of tea are endless: grains, seeds, flowers, fruits, and roots can be used to make relaxing tasty teas. There’s a flavour for every mood which, when paired with a delicious snack, is the perfect way to wind down for a break at the end of the day.

We recommend traditional Korean teas such as green tea, citron tea, and quince tea to pair with your traditional snacks.

Image Source: ©Tea ceremony, RussellSheng, 23.09.18, www.pixabay.com

 

Types of tea:

Green tea (Nokcha 녹차), the most common form of Korean leaf tea, is an unoxidized tea made from the dried leaves of the tea plant. Loose leaf tea is called ipcha (잎차) or yeopcha (엽차), while powdered tea is called garu-cha (가루차) or malcha (말차).
Southern, warmer regions such as Jeju are famous for producing high quality tea leaves. Green tea can also be blended with other ingredients, such as roasted brown rice to make hyeonmi-nokcha (현미녹차) or “brown rice green tea”, and lemon to make lemon-nokcha (레몬 녹차) or “lemon green tea”.

Quince tea (Mogwa-cha; 모과차) is a traditional Korean tea made with Chinese quince. Most commonly, it is prepared by mixing hot water with quince preserved in honey or sugar. Alternatively, it can also be made by boiling dried quince in water or mixing powdered dried quince with hot water.

Image Source: ©Green Tea Leaves, DukeAsh, 23.09.18, www.pixabay.com

What about food?

And with every great cuppa comes a great responsibility to accompany it with a great snack!

Since ancient times, Korean traditional snacks (sweets and rice cakes) have been an appetizing and crucial part of Korean cuisine, often brought out on special occasions and also for that crucial period of relaxation at the end of a long day.

Hangwa (한과) is a kind of Korean traditional confectionery made from flour combined with honey or sugar. Depending on the individual recipe, hangwa can have a variety of shapes, flavors, and textures. Because Hangwa uses natural ingredients, they are an excellent source of nutrition. The main ingredients can include grains, honey, chestnuts, pine nuts, sesame, and walnuts. Yugwa and yakgwa are the main types of Hangwa.

  • Yugwa (유과) is an absolute must-have for special occasions or memorial ceremonies. Made by deep-frying sweet rice flour and grain syrup, yugwa is a delicately-prepared sweet that is often crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside.
  • Yakgwa (약과) is made by frying a mixture of wheat, flour, honey, and sesame oil. These glossy cookies were the signature snack of royal families during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

 

You can find many Korean teas from your local Asian supermarket, and recipes for the traditional snacks are easy to make, so grab your friends or go solo for that perfect relaxing activity to wind down on your day off.

Featured image: ©Zen, 22.09.2018, www.pixabay.com

Molly Goode

Unashamedly a giant nerd and bibliophile. Obsessing over Korea has become my life. <3

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