Korean Apple Tea with Ginger and Cinnamon (Saegwa Cha)

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My Korean grandma’s home remedy for the common cold: Korean Apple Tea or Saegwa Cha! A comforting and soothing hot drink that will warm you up. Easy to make in the Instant Pot or stove top with immense health benefits. Enjoy this warm, cozy drink made from apples with ginger and cinnamon’s gentle, warming heat.

Korean Apple Tea (Saegwa Cha)

When I was a little girl, the remedy for sore throats and troublesome coughs was a big pot of my Korean grandma’s Apple Tea. My Halmoni called it Saegwa Cha — a mixture of apples, cinnamon, and ginger brewed together to make a sweet and spicy tea. A Korean home remedy for the common cold that I loved to sip!

Back then, I didn’t know about its numerous health benefits. Like Immunity-boosting ginger and cinnamon. For me, it was simply a delicious treat that also alleviated coughs and sniffles. A cup of this comforting hot drink always made me feel better.

The taste profile is similar to Sujeonggwa or Persimmon Cinnamon Tea. You could even call it Apple Sujeonggwa because the method is virtually identical. In this case, easy-to-find apples are swapped for the persimmon.

Make a big pot of immune-boosting Korean Apple Ginger Tea all winter long! The spicy warmth of cinnamon and ginger makes for such a cozy, soothing drink. Also tastes good cold or room temperature, too!

Health Benefits:

  • Apples contain flavonoids, vitamin C, and pectin — making this humble and accessible fruit packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Ginger is well known for its immunity-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. Notably, fresh ginger contains gingerol, a compound that fights infections and stops the growth of bacteria. It’s also a common remedy for treating nausea and motion sickness, boosts brain functioning, reduces pain, and improves digestion.
  • Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties that boost immunity. Cinnamon also helps to regulate blood sugar, promotes better digestion, and is good for the heart and brain.

Ingredients:

  • Apples. The star ingredient. Good, sweet apples are essential for Apple Tea that is fruity, aromatic, and delicious. Don’t be tempted to use old apples that are not good enough to eat alone. Look for sweet, firm, preferably organic apples such as Gala, Fuji, Cortland, Ambrosia, or McIntosh.
  • Brown Sugar. Adds caramel-y depth and sweetness.
  • Ginger. Organic ginger is preferred for its peppery bite. No need to peel before cooking but make sure it’s clean.
  • Cinnamon Sticks. Whole cinnamon sticks flavor the tea with a spicy warmth and aromatic sweetness. For subtle cinnamon flavor, I recommend 2 sticks. But if you prefer a stronger, more pronounced cinnamon flavor, add 4 sticks. FYI – it will be quite strong!
  • Black Peppercorns. My Korean grandma’s secret ingredient for added depth, intensity, and warmth. You won’t be able to taste the peppercorns, but it will add an earthy deliciousness.

Instructions:

  1. Chop apples. Wash apples thoroughly. Quarter and core the apples. They do not need to be peeled.
  2. Instant Pot directions: Add apples, sliced ginger, brown sugar, peppercorns, and 10 cups of water to the cooking pot. Lock the lid into place and cook for 18 minutes at high pressure. When the timer beeps, release the steam manually. Remove the cooking pot insert and set on the counter to cool briefly.
  3. Stove top directions: Add apples, sliced ginger, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and 10 cups of water to a stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer (covered) until the apples are soft and the cinnamon sticks have uncurled a little, about 30 minutes. Keep covered and steep for an additional 10 minutes, off the heat.
  4. Transfer to a pitcher. Place a pitcher or mason glass jar (you may need several) on the counter. Place a fine mesh sieve over the opening of the pitcher or jar, which will catch any debris. Pour the liquid slowly and gently so the apples and cinnamon sticks stay inside the cooking pot and do not fall out. Every so often, press the fruit with the back of a large spoon to release the juices. They will be very soft. Be careful as you pour!
  5. Cool. Cool completely at room temperature. Transfer and store in a pitcher or glass jar, tightly sealed.
  6. Enjoy. Pour the Apple Tea into a cup. Enjoy hot, room temperature, or cold.

PRO Tips:

  • Halve the recipe. The recipe makes a large amount — 10 cups! For my family of 5, it’s the perfect amount. Feel free to reduce to a smaller portion. I’ve purposefully written the recipe so it’s easy to halve to 5 cups.
  • Adjust sweetness to your liking. The apples add plenty of sweetness on their own. But my grandma added a little sugar to balance the spicy warmth of the ginger and cinnamon. The recipe is not too sweet, as written. If you prefer, add more sugar! It will also depend on the sweetness of the apples.

Variations:

  • Pears. Swap the apple with pear. Or add a combination of apples and pears. I recommend sweet, firm pears like Bosc or Bartlett.
  • Cloves. Swap the black peppercorns with cloves for a mulled apple cider flavor. The cloves are quite strong, so I recommend only 1/4 tsp instead of the 2 tsp recommended peppercorns.
  • Honey. Instead of brown sugar, add honey for sweetness. Changes the flavor profile entirely.

FAQ:

How long will the Korean Apple Tea last?

It should last for 1 week, tightly sealed in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave until steaming hot. Or enjoy cold or at room temperature.

How do I store it?

My Korean grandma stored Saegwa Cha in the fridge, stowed in a covered pitcher. An easy way to access and pour a drink whenever you want! A glass mason jar also works well.

Why is my drink cloudy?

Saegwa Cha can be slightly cloudy because it’s made from fresh apples. Even using a fine mesh sieve won’t remove everything.

More cozy recipes:

white mug filled with korean apple tea with ginger and cinnamon

Korean Apple Tea with Ginger and Cinnamon (Saegwa Cha)

Lis Lam
My Korean grandma's home remedy for the common cold: Korean Apple Tea or Saegwa Cha! A comforting and soothing hot drink that will warm you up! Easy to prepare with immense health benefits. Enjoy this warm, comforting drink made from apples with ginger and cinnamon's gentle, warming heat.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Korean
Servings 10 cups
Calories 63 kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot Pressure Cooker OR Stockpot
  • Fine Mesh Sieve
  • Pitcher or Mason jar *for storage

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs (900 grams) Apples *Sweet, firm, preferably organic apples such as Gala, Fuji, Cortland, Ambrosia, or McIntosh.
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp (25 grams) brown sugar
  • 4 inch (55 grams) Ginger *preferably organic
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns

Instructions
 

  • Chop apples. Wash apples thoroughly. Quarter and core the apples. They do not need to be peeled.
  • Instant Pot directions: Add apples, sliced ginger, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and 10 cups of water to the cooking pot. Lock the lid into place and cook for 18 minutes at high pressure. When the timer beeps, release the steam manually. Remove the cooking pot insert and set on the counter to cool briefly.
  • Stove top directions: Add apples, sliced ginger, brown sugar, peppercorns, and 10 cups of water to a stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer (covered) until the apples are soft and the cinnamon sticks have uncurled a little, about 30 minutes. Keep covered and steep for an additional 10 minutes, off the heat.
  • Transfer to a pitcher. Place a pitcher or mason glass jar (you may need several) on the counter. Place a fine mesh sieve over the opening of the pitcher or jar, which will catch any debris. Pour the apple tea slowly and gently so the apples and cinnamon sticks stay inside the cooking pot and do not fall out. Every so often, press the apples with the back of a large spoon to release the juices. They will be very soft. Be careful as you pour!
  • Cool. Cool completely at room temperature. Transfer and store in a pitcher or glass jar, tightly sealed.
  • Enjoy. Pour the Apple Tea into a cup. Enjoy hot, cold, or room temperature.

Video

Notes

PRO Tips:
  • Halve the recipe. The recipe makes a large amount — 10 cups! For my family of 5, it’s the perfect amount. Feel free to reduce to a smaller portion. I’ve purposefully written the recipe so it’s easy to halve to 5 cups.
  • Adjust sweetness to your liking. The apples add plenty of sweetness on their own. But my grandma added a little sugar to balance the spicy warmth of the ginger and cinnamon. The recipe is not too sweet, as written. If you prefer, add more sugar! It will also depend on the sweetness of the apples.
Variations:
  • Pears. Swap the apple with pear. Or add a combination of apples and pears. I recommend sweet, firm pears like Bosc or Bartlett.
  • Cloves. Swap the black peppercorns with cloves for a mulled apple cider flavor. The cloves are quite strong, so I recommend only 1/4 tsp instead of the 2 tsp recommended peppercorns.
  • Honey. Instead of brown sugar, add honey for sweetness. Changes the flavor profile entirely.
  •  

Nutrition

Calories: 63kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 0.4gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.04gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.02gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 120mgFiber: 3gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 56IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword Apple, drink, Ginger, Korean, Tea
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
  • Variations:

    • Pears. Swap the apple with pear. Or add a combination of apples and pears. I recommend sweet, firm pears like Bosc or Bartlett.
    • Cloves. Swap the black peppercorns with cloves for a mulled apple cider flavor. The cloves are quite strong, so I recommend only 1/4 tsp instead of the 2 tsp recommended peppercorns.
    • Honey. Instead of brown sugar, add honey for sweetness. Changes the flavor profile entirely.
    •  

    Drinks
    Korean
    Apple, drink, Ginger, Korean, Tea