You have heard about Chinese Ginseng and you have heard about American Ginseng as well as no doubt probably also heard about Siberian Ginseng. But have you heard of Kiwiseng- New Zealand Ginseng!! Ok, now that I have got your attention, I have a confession to make. I made up the name Kiwiseng. But, we do now have both Chinese Panax Ginseng and American Panax Quinqefolius being grown commercially right here in New Zealand, about 80 Km from Rotorua. The ambitions of the Maraeroa C Incorporation have finally come to fruit.
The brand name of this home grown ginseng is actually Pure Ora Mountain Ginseng.
The ginseng seedlings were first planted in 2006 and are now getting close to their first harvest and I was very fortunate to be presented with some samples.
Are the Chinese going to take this product seriously?
I would think so.
Remember the Kiwifruit was originally the Chinese gooseberry fruit and we all know that now New Zealand exports it to China by the boat load.
But what makes this Kiwiseng so different.
China is already importing Ginseng from Korea, Taiwan and America. Can New Zealand compete with them? What makes this ginseng so unique is that our Kiwiseng is grown in a true simulated wild environment. Ginseng in its natural environment needs to grow in the shade of trees, so in the commercial plantations of Asia and America, they are grown in shaded glasshouses or in fields with tents being used as shade.
These Kiwiseng are grown in the natural shade of pine plantations in the Pa Harakeke Forest. They are grown with zero pesticides, zero irrigation and zero soil cultivation. And I have been informed, that Tane Mahuta, The Guardian of the Forest, is keeping a watchful eye over the growing Kiwiseng.
The more an herb is cultivated and adulterated with, the more the energy and life force is lost. Thomas Lin, managing director of the TCM Chinese Medicine Centre in Christchurch says “Historically, Chinese herbalists have always said that herbs from the wild are more potent and have more qi (Life force) than the mass produced cultivated ones. The herbs from the wild even look so very different. Just think of the difference between wild strawberries and the cultivated ones. The small wild ones have such a strong strawberry taste and the ones from the farms even though they look large and appealing, they are actually quite tasteless. Its the same with ginseng. These NZ ginseng roots look like just like wild ones! I know that the Chinese will pay top dollar for these ginseng roots because they are as close to what you can get from the wild. The proof is in the pudding, tests have already confirmed that the Pure Ora Mountain Ginseng are high in all the unique active medicinal ingredients such as saponins. I will be taking some back to China on my next trip for sure“.
So what is ginseng good for?
The Chinese name for ginseng is ren shen which means Man Root. This is because the root when dug up, resembles a man because visually it usually has a head, body and two leg like roots. Because it looks like a man, ancient physicians used it for the many conditions that afflicted man.
Ginseng in the Chinese herbal texts is classified as an energy tonic and in particular benefits the energy of the spleen and lungs. Chinese medicine has a saying, “The food is taken in by the stomach but the spleen processes the food”. So even if you eat the best wholesome and most nutritious food, if you have a weak spleen it won’t make much difference because it is not being fully absorbed. Ginseng tonifies the spleen. It is regarded as the King herb for this function.
This is why ginseng is so beneficial for the elderly as not only do people lose their appetite as they age but also metabolism and food absorption declines. That is why there are many folk lore stories of ancient Chinese sage masters living to be very old because of their daily ginseng consumption.
The benefit of ginseng benefiting the lungs and has been the subject of many studies in the aim to try understand its role in enhancing athletic performance.
Another special medicinal property of ginseng is that it can improve various mental functions such as concentration and memory.
Many traditional Chinese texts stress that ginseng should not be taken by people under the age of forty and that for optimum results it should be cooked in a silver container.
The Pa Harakeke have Ginseng Forest Tours as well as ginseng tea tasting. I am not sure though, if they will be serving the ginseng tea from a silver tea pot!