Monday, July 18, 2005

mugwort - friend or foe?

In this week's News of the Weird, park officials in Maryland (I think: The text reads Montgomery County, Md. Canada has only 10 provinces or 13 political units and we use three letter abbreviations, why can't the US with 50 states, use three letters?) are in a quandary. An exotic nuisance plant, mugwort, has invaded their parks and they are trying to get rid of it. Koreans in the area are collecting it (here it's called ssook -쑥) but are being charged with removing plants from a public park.

You are likely to see Korean women collecting ssook almost everywhere in Korea. When my wife sees it, she wants to bring it home but she admits to not knowing how to cook it. I am relieved that she doesn't bring it home, because we usually see it next to busy roads and I don't think I'd care for car-exhaust flavored ssook.


Mike said...

I've been reading about mugwort on the net recently...seems like amazing stuff! Is it all it's cracked up to be?

kwandongbrian said...


Mugwort, or some kind of mugwort is used in making absinthe- is this what you're asking about? I will try to find a link that goes into more detail.

Korea's 'ssook' is used in a variety of food and eaten by people you wouldn't expect to be seeking hallucinations. I'm not big on any kind of rice cake (ddeok) so mugwort flavored ricecake is not especially appealing to me.

Mike said...

Hi Brian, thanks for replying. I had never heard of absinthe until I read about in your comment.

I did google 'absinthe' and got some info on it. Sounds like it's as good as, or worse than tequila!

I'm more interested in ssook and its effects.

However, it sounds like pretty potent stuff. I'm just curious about it so that I don't end taking it unsuspectingly in Korea.

Sounds like a good buzz, but not my cup of tea.

Thanks for the info.

kwandongbrian said...

The ssook Koreans eat is harmless. It's main property, aside from flavoring food, is that, as a tea, it can settle upset stomachs.

I think I read once that Korean shamans (shamen? -most Korean shaman are women) use some kind of mugwort but I think it has to be specially prepared or fermented. Again, I wouldn't worry about ssook in food.

K. Amonoo said...

Hi, I am an avid user of mugwort, which I know more by the term "wormwood." A life long NYer, now living in Busan, Korea I have started looking for it here. Very few people know about it as a plant, or herbal tea though, as mentioned earlier, it is commonly an ingredient in rice cake. Aside from marginal intake in the form of absinthe (very strong bitter drink that is usually consumed with sugar and with its hangover there is a state of terrible dehydration). As a tea I found it a great stomachic, literally cleaning out toxins in the system, causing a cleansing perspiration, revitalization, and ultra clean breath. Note, in higher doses, you will hallucinate slightly with no behaviorial effects or sickness. Kind of a mild buzz, where you feel alert and see colors quite vividly. If you research it, you'll find that many of the Impressionist painters referenced Absinthe as the source of the acute sense of color depictted in their paintings. Van gogh,Oscar Wilde, Manet et al were known absinthe drinkers. Wormwood is also mentioend in the Bible several times. It's a star and supposedly the only thing offered the snake when he was banished from the Garden of Eden. I found one site that sells ssook or wormwood and ordered some today. Here is their URL:

That's my 2 cents on mugwort.

Anonymous said...

Wormwood, great stuff!! Referenced in the Bible as what the snake was forced to drink when banished from the Garden of Eden. Hard to find as a potent stomachic, but, when imbibed as a tea, is great for removing toxins, revitalization, and ultra clean breath. Be careful! In very high doses, you will hallucinate mildly, and may even see colors more clearly. Van gogh, Manet, Monet, Oscar Wilde were all (in)famous absinthe drinkers. Found a website in Korea that sells it: Believe the type used in rice cakes and soup is much milder than the plant/herb used as a tea. Have had massive amounts with no side effects whatsoever...WIll let you know if product from website is similar to quality that purchased from herbal store in NYC. Cheers!

brian dean said...

Thanks anonymous. I don't know when you wrote your comment, but i only noticed it today, May 7, 2012. The Gangwon Notes blog is pretty quiet these days and i don't keep up with the comments -well, there aren't many comments anyway.