We say berry, you say? Blueberry? Cherry? How about omija (오미자)? This berry is also called the five-flavor berry, schizandra berry, or magnolia berry. It’s said to have five flavors: spicy, sweet, salty, sour, and bitter (or if you want to be fancy, you can call it pungent)!
Fun fact: the 오 (oh) is five and 미자 (mija) is flavor!
The benefits of consuming omija include increased stamina, improved digestion, and it comes with plenty of antioxidants. It helps you relax and reduces anxiety. It’s said to be helpful to those with insomnia!
Nowadays, the weather tends to be unpredictable but omija is perfect to use for drinks in both hot and cold weather! Their exceptionally aesthetic appeal is an added bonus! Using these berries, you can either make Omija Tea (오미자차) or Omija Punch (오미자화채). There isn’t much of a difference between the two; the omija base is the same, but Omija Punch includes little jelly noodles!
Let’s start off with Omija Tea or Omija Cha (오미자차)! You use dried berries to make this tea. It also needs to be brewed in cold water because hot water will bring out it’s bitterness. Add some honey or sugar and then you’re set! You can find a more detailed recipe on My Korean Kitchen.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more extra, try Omija Punch! It’s called Omija Hwachae or 오미자화채. It’s still has the same flavor, but you add bae pears, pine nuts, and noodles! It’s easy to make, as Maangchi shows in her tutorial:
It’s beautiful and refreshing! Perfect for the impending heat wave that will arrive this summer.
You can easily make both recipes at home, although it is hard to find fresh omija outside of Korea. Though, you can find the dried berries at most Korean markets. Give it a try! Next time someone asks you what’s your favorite berry, your answer might just be omija.
Written by Stephanie Lemus