Sunday, March 8, 2015

NNM Day 5 :: Raisin Water

This one is going to be a little obscure and very propaganda-y.

I love raisin water (aka heotgaecha)(aka Japanese raisin tea)(aka wtf are you drinking?!)

I was introduced to this product during my third year in Korea.... and I wish I had found it sooner. It comes in a few different forms. I was most familiar with the bottled form that was easy to grab in the local mini-marts. My friend Meg handed me one once and told me to drink it before I started drinking alcohol. Apparently, whatever was in this magical drink helped to stave off hangovers. Considering that after I turned 26 my hangovers got way worse, I figured anything was worth a try! Well... it worked! I woke up relatively hangover free. I couldn't believe it and from then on, I never consumed alcohol without first having some raisin water (that was the affectionate nickname given to the brew... mainly because the only English on the bottle says "oriental raisin water").

A little about raisin water:
It is a tea steeped from a plant called Hovenia dulcis, also known as oriental raisin tree, and it is found mainly in Korea and eastern China. When the fruit of the tree is dried, it tastes kinda like raisins- hence, the name. The bark and leaves are brewed to make tea, and that tea is what I used as my hangover cure. The tea is know as having a healing effect on the liver, and was actually approved by the Korean version of the FDA as a treatment for alcoholism.

For me, this stuff had something like an 80% success rate with keeping the hangover away (or at least significantly minimizing it). I drank it in proportion to the amount (and type) of alcohol I consumed during the evening. I always started the evening with a 500ml bottle, and would make judgement calls throughout the evening based on my consumption. I usually started and ended the night with a 500ml bottle. I think part of the reason it worked so well is that it kept me hydrated. After using it for so long, I became a little skeptical; wondering if it really worked as well as I thought it did. I did 2 little experiments:
(1) One night out, I realized that I hadn't started out the night with my raisin water, so I figured I would just drink water in the same proportion that I usually drink the raisin water and see how I felt the next day. Terrible. I felt awful. Not as bad as I would have been if I hadn't been on top of my water consumption; but still... pretty sittay.
(2) I rarely eat fast food, and had noticed that I would get this weird hangover feeling whenever I did indulge in McD's or other fast food in Korea. I made a McD's date with a friend, but had a raisin water beforehand and ordered the same thing I usually ordered. Interestingly, I didn't get the weird....erm.... gurgley stomach thing that I had before AND the next day I didn't feel like a blob!

Results = success! It must do something in the liver area. I definitely believed it when Meg told me all about it, but was pretty excited that it held up to my experimentation. From then on, I drank it regularly even when alcohol wasn't involved-- just a general addition to my nutrition/health weekly routine.

When I got home, I was super bummed that I wouldn't have easy access to my wondertea. Luckily, I mailed home a few small boxes of the tea bags, so I was still able to enjoy it-- but I didn't want to run out too quickly, so I used it super conservatively. When I went to Canada over the summer, my friend Lisa took me to this amazing Asian superstore and they had it!! I was so excited that I bought 2 boxes! Now I have enough to last me for a long time! :)

I definitely recommend trying this product (especially if you're prone to hangovers or really affected by your occasional fast food indulgence).

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