Dieting in South Korea: Han Yak Tea

One of the art teachers at my school has been on a quest to lose some weight recently and has been constantly drinking these little packets of brown liquid. Whenever I asked her about it she would say it was for her diet and would ask me if I wanted one. Finally, after about a month I decided to give it a shot, for science!

From what I could gather from my coworker the little bag was called “han yak” and was made up of the juice of something small and brown that she didn’t know the name of. After some internet searching the best I could come up with is that it is made with herbs and maybe ginseng and when used for dietary purposes it is supposed to suppress one’s appetite. I was told to ingest the han yak tea an hour before eating a meal and then I would only eat about half of what I normally eat.

Recently, as with many people at the start of the New Year I have been on a slight health kick, but I was trying to minimize consumption of bread and rice along with adding daily exercise. For me it’s not about losing weight but about being more “firm” as I like to say it, although I guess the better term would be toned.

I noticed that when I live in Korea I weight about 10 pounds less than I do in the States without any intentional lifestyle changes. In Korea I walk much regularly and don’t eat as much fast food. Basically, in my everyday life in Korea it is much easier for me to life a slightly healthier lifestyle.

Anyways, back to the mystery tea. According to my minimal research some tea regimens will include drinking the tea before all meals of the day and body massages. This is apparently supposed to help move the fat from the body.

Here it is...the unassuming little bag of han yak tea

Here it is…the unassuming little bag of han yak tea, excuse my horrific looking nails…I got the worst gel nail polish ever

So, I did what I was instructed to do and ingested the bag of tea an hour before lunch time. At lunch all the staff at the school went out to eat guk su (noodle soup) at the restaurant on the first floor of our building and holy crap the tea worked it magic! I could barely eat anything before I had the feeling of being incredibly full. When I went into work that morning I remember thinking I was really hungry and wanted to stop by the bakery and get some delicious snack later on in the day before lunch time. But, at lunch I could barely eat anything. It was crazy. It was the sensation of having eaten a huge meal even before I started to eat anything. I’m not sure about the long term effects of drinking the tea and if they would continue to act as an appetite suppressant over long periods of time but my one time experiment certainly showed me that the tea did suppress my appetite.

Here was me delicious bowl of guk su I was supposed to enjoy for lunch

Here was me delicious bowl of guk su I was supposed to enjoy for lunch

And after I had forced myself to eat as much as I could before feeling like it was post Thanksgiving...and I barely ate anything

And after I had forced myself to eat as much as I could before feeling like it was post Thanksgiving…and I barely ate anything

After lunch I noticed that I was pretty jittery and anxious, so I wonder if the tea had high levels of caffeine in it. I asked my co-worker later on in the day if the tea had caffeine in it and she told me that it had a lot of caffeine in it…to apparently give you energy to exercise. As someone who is really sensitive to caffeine I had a strong reaction to the caffeine, so I wouldn’t recommend this tea to anyone with the same sensitivity as me.

What a strange and unexpected experience. I honestly went into trying the tea as a joke to just see how horrific it tasted. And it tasted in my opinion of burnt dirt, not that I’ve even had burned dirt… But, man did it do what it was supposed to, and a little too well in my opinion. It was such a trip knowing that I had barely eaten anything and yet my stomach felt like I had ingested a large meal. It was a pretty uncomfortable sensation to be honest, and  I don’t know if I’ll ever be trying it again in the future.


9 thoughts on “Dieting in South Korea: Han Yak Tea

  1. Ayana says:

    Do you know of any places online where I can buy the tea, I live in America? I am very curious to know its affects on my appetite.


    • thesockmonkeyproject says:

      Hmmmm, I would think your best best would be if you have a Korean/Asian grocery store nearby. If not, I’m sure maybe Amazon might have something. It’s interesting though I think there are different varieties of the tea. Hope this helps 🙂


    • thesockmonkeyproject says:

      Unfortunately no…I think my co-worker had ordered it online and it appeared in some generic packaging without a brand or even label.


    • thesockmonkeyproject says:

      I got the tea I tried from a co-worker…not sure what website she used and unfortunately I don’t keep in touch with her. Sorry!


    • thesockmonkeyproject says:

      I’m sure you could try and go to a pharmacy in Korea and ask for it there. It is almost like a tea that comes in packet.


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