“Soojong Gwa” Tea

A good friend can be like a cup of tea. She can be invigorating when you need a lift, calming when need soothing, and warm and comforting when you feel like you’ve been left out in the cold. And sometimes she can be a giant pain in the arse and spill all over your refrigerator.

What? Your friends don’t do that? I must being something wrong.

I once heard someone say that if he died with one good friend in the world, he was a lucky man. I believed him.

Despite what social networking may lead you to believe, friendship isn’t a competition in quantities. It’s all about quality. This is especially true as you get older. You see, friendships, like any relationships, require a lot of work, and quite frankly, we’re all strapped for time.

Are you married, in a relationship? If so, you know that maintaining it is, in a word, exhausting (but worth it). If you know someone who claims to have dozens of close friends, please introduce us. I want whatever she’s drinking.

Believe it or not, there is a point to my rambling. I’m at a strange crossroad right now. It’s equally as likely that I’ll hear about a new engagement, or baby, as it is that I’ll hear about a divorce or the career move of a lifetime. These situations are all huge and illicit different reactions if advice is sought. I think that too often, we view other’s situations as if they’re shades of our own. The fundamentals might be the same, but the details are almost certainly different, and the devil’s in the details folks.

Understanding this is all the harder when the person is a friend. We want what’s best for the people we hold close, but do we really consider what that means? Probably not. You see many of our friendships started somewhere that provided a comfortable social construct; work, school, a neighborhood, etc. In those instances, we have a shared situation that knits us together. We assume a shared forward momentum. What happens when that momentum is removed? Can you still function as friends without an overarching set of expectations? Yes, but this is where the hard work comes into play.

Resist the urge to project yourself onto your friend. I know you secretly want to; after all, when you start at the same place, you often hope to land in the same place. But, that’s not realistic. We all make our choices and live with the results.

What’s best for you, may not be best for your friend, and if it isn’t, it doesn’t make either of you less of a person. As long as your friend is happy, healthy and not hurting herself or anyone else, try to find the positive and be supportive. Maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two!

So why did I start with tea? Well, it reminds me of two close friends. One recently gave me advice, the other needed it. I promised the former that I’d find this recipe for her, and my post is relevent to the latter’s current predicament. Why else? Well, like friendship, tea can be bitter, it can be sweet, and it’s lasting.

Also like tea- a good friend will give you a do-over if you make a mess of things.

“Soojong Gwa”
Adopted from: Quick & Easy Korean Cooking via Epicurious


  • 4-5 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 piece of ginger, roughly 2-3 inches
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 10 cups of water


First, peel and thinly slice your ginger. There is a grain, go with it! Now place the ginger and cinnamon sticks in a pot large enough to hold 10 cups of water. Pour your water over the spices and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, cover and let simmer for 50 minutes. At the 50 minute mark, add the brown sugar and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes, then strain solids from tea and chill until a few hours or overnight.

This beverage is traditionally served cold, but patience isn’t a virtue of mine. I thought it was wonderful hot!

*This tea is usually served with pine nuts or dried persimmon, rehydrated by soaking in the tea. I opted to leave these ingredients out.

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