Friday, December 19, 2008

Tea & Treats at Insa-dong

After a chilly shopping day at Insadong, we stopped a tea place. This tea place sold tteok (Korean rice cakes) instead of the standard muffins and cakes. We smuggled in our own sweets, the ginger (left) and sugar (right) candies from a street vendor:
I tried a sugar one in the spirit of my Korean food blog. Of course I didn't care for the sweetness or aftertaste so I spit it in my napkin. (Unlike at Sancheon, where I simply returned a bitten kimchi fritter to the community bowl.)
(Photo courtesy of Studio Sans.)
We warmed ourselves with tea: citron, plum, and Chinese quince to be exact (from left to right). The server gave us a metal thermos of hot water to top off our tea cups. Thank goodness, since the teas were so sweet.
The menu contained all sorts of health claims for these teas, a no-no in the United States. For example, my plum tea supposedly treated constipation (probably true), and another tea addressed type II diabetes (not sure about that one).

After tea, we stopped by a popular shop where young, outgoing, attractive Korean guys make candy. The process requires two people. The first person mixes sugar/honey with starch. He pulls and tugs the blob until it forms thin strands:
The second person plops a scoop of sweet red bean and nuts onto the strands. Then he uses a pair of chopsticks to spin the strands around the red bean. The finished product is a small, white stringy soft "candy" with a bean/nut center:
If you're lucky, they'll give you a sample. If you're female, they'll probably demand that you eat it straight from their outstretched chopsticks!

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