Cover Image: The Korean Herbal Apothecary

The Korean Herbal Apothecary

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Member Reviews

Diving into Grace Yoon's enchanting narrative feels like being wrapped in a warm, comforting quilt made of stories, wisdom, and the rich tapestry of Korean herbal traditions. Grace takes us by the hand and leads us into the heart of the Korean herbal apothecary, sharing tales whispered by her grandmother that everything in this world - every leaf, every stone - pulses with Qi, the vital life force that connects us all.

Grace's journey is not just about herbs; it's an invitation to become an herbal alchemist, to weave together our own potions and remedies, guided by the profound knowledge passed down through generations. She illuminates the path by exploring how the spiritual philosophies of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, like three ancient trees, have rooted deeply into Korean culture, influencing not just thoughts and actions but extending their branches into the very essence of traditional healing practices.

As we wander further with Grace, we're introduced to the delicate dance of Yin and Yang, the cosmic duality that seasons every aspect of life, including the kitchen! She paints a vibrant picture of a traditional Korean meal, where dishes aren't just food but a balance of energetic qualities. These dishes, artfully combining the five elements - wood, fire, earth, metal, and water - also bring to the table a palette of five cardinal colours, each telling its own story, from the deep blues of the forest to the fiery reds of passion, the nurturing yellows of earth, the pure whites of metal, and the mysterious blacks of the sea.

But Grace doesn't stop there. She delves into the heart of each element, revealing its correspondence with flavours, emotions, and the Yin Yang organs, offering us a compass to navigate the intricate world of herbal healing. Through her eyes, herbs come alive, not just as plants but as characters with families, stories, and secrets waiting to be uncovered. She guides us through the nuances of their qualities, from their native homes to their healing properties, and even how to harness their power through preparation and dosing.

This book is a treasure trove, not only for its deep dive into the soul of Korean herbal practices but also for the practical wisdom it offers. Grace generously shares an array of recipes, each a key to unlocking the magic of herbs in our daily lives. Her writing is a gentle, guiding light, making the profound knowledge of herbs accessible, meaningful, and joyfully easy to integrate into our lives.

I found myself utterly captivated by Grace Yoon's world, where every page turned is a step deeper into the heart of healing and heritage. This book is more than just a guide; it's a journey to the soul of Korean herbalism, rich with tradition, wisdom, and the vibrant tapestry of life itself. A must-have for any herbalist's library, it's a book I wholeheartedly recommend, a journey I'm grateful to have taken and one I know I'll return to time and again.

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This is a beautifully and thoughtfully curated book, with insights, techniques, recipes, and more, giving a clear view into Korean culture and wellness. As a lifelong book nerd, I am pleased to see a complex book like this published. Obviously, I read a digital version so I don't know the paper quality, but this is a beautiful book. It is both engaging and relaxing to read. There are hand drawn images and gorgeous, evocative photographs, a little bit of poetry, some family history and and background. Esthetics aside, it is packed with information on diet, exercise, herbal remedies, Qi alchemy, the concepts of lesser/greater yin and yang, techniques that have stood the test of time. It is divided by season so you can jump in no matter what time of year you receive this book. If I had an endless budget, this is one I'd prefer to own a hardback and kindle copy.

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An extensive collection of information about various aspects of the Korean traditional medicine and herbal traditions, it combines beautiful nature illustrations with rich content about plants, fruits and foods. Based on her family depository of knowledge in the field, American-Korean Grace Yoon shares, sometimes through stories and old legends, sometimes through recipes and philosophical considerations, a rich legacy that, at least at this level, can be adapted into the Western daily life and habits. A recommended read including for those interested in different take of Herbalism and traditional medicine. I was personally fascinated by the different legends and although I am definitely a supporter of classical medicine, I may try some teas and traditional vinegar recipes mentioned in the book, to only mention few parts that caught my interests.

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This is a gorgeous and infinitely practical book if you're open to alternate forms of healing. Plus it made me hungry.

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This is an excellent book but not well suited for me personally. While I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about herbalism, I felt it was too vague for all but the most knowledgeable Korean herbalists. In some cases, names for plants were different from the names I know for them. In at least one case, a highly toxic plant was profiled (monkshood) and while it says to only use it under the supervision of an herbal practitioner, it is such a dangerous plant that I can’t see any justifiable reason to include it. Eat enough monkshood and death is instant. You can be poisoned by merely picking it without wearing gloves.

The book also wasn’t a good fit since I like to use plants that grow near me, and many of these don’t (though many are nearly worldwide, like burdock). I also didn’t feel that it was detailed or comprehensive enough for me to feel safe using it.

All that said, it’s a fascinating and beautiful book. I love that it is an Own Voices book, and it would make a great addition to an herbal or Korean library.

I read a temporary digital copy of this book for review.

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I really enjoyed this book. Grace Yoon knows her stuff! Yoon includes history and religious purposes for different herbs and creations. She then talks you through each plant teaching you about the properties, what they are used for, and contraindications (the only thing I would add to that aspect is that people on immuno-suppressants need to check with their doctors before ingesting anything because of medicine interactions). Most of the plants have colorful drawing allowing the reader to get an idea of what they look like. I learned a lot from reading this book.

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Wonderful detailed book on aspects of yin and Yang. Beautifully illustrated and inspirational. I intend on using more Korean herbs and vinegar in my daily life to help increase my health Herbs . Steeped in traditions come to life in our Dayton day world to help us follow a more intentional healthy life.

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Valuable Information

Grace Yoon provides some background information on the Korean herbal apothecary and write about her grandmother telling her that everything has Qi. She further states that the use of herbs is energetic, and to be one's own herbal
alchemist, it is essential to understand their Eastern ancestry. Because inAsia, ancestors passed on three spiritual philosophies or religions that Koreans mainly practice:
1. Taoism
2. Buddhism
3. Confucianism

In addition to discussing Qi, the author discusses Yin and Yang. She states that a traditional Korean meal includes various herbal dishes formed by energetic qualities of yin and yang that create the five elements in Korean cuisine (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). The five elemental foods are selected mindfully, and they include a spectrum of five cardinal colors:
• Blue represents trees in the woods.
• Red represents fire.
• Yellow represents the earth.
• White represents metal.
• Black represents the sea

She, also, provides a correspondences of the five elements and the flavor, emotion, and the Yin Yang organ for each of the elements. In addition, she discusses the properties and role that many of the herbs play in the Korean culture. In doing so, she discusses the following for a large number of herbs:
1. Family
2. Genus
3. Common Names
4. Part Used
5. Effective Qualities
6. Native Regions
7. Constituents
8. Properties
9. Indicated
10. How to Prepare
11. Dose

I feel this is a great book on Korean herbs, and the fact that the author presents the information in such a meaningful and easy to understand format. Plus, there are quite a lot a various recipes provided.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I feel it would be a valuable asset to any herbalist's library. I highly recommend it.

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The author shared her knowledge in traditional Korean herbalism and provided recipes for readers to try out. Some of them seemed easy to prepare, so these could be a fun experiment.

A word of caution: The author was not trained as an herbalist or medical practitioner. Please treat the information in the book more as family wisdom, and not medical advice.

The 4 “Sasang constitutions” section was disappointing. The descriptions were very short and generalised. I was unable to even guess which constitution I might be, so the information on which types of foods were more beneficial to each person became useless.

(I received a free review copy from NetGalley.)

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I love this book and would definitely consider getting a physical copy of it, because like the stacks of cookbooks you have in the house- this one goes a step and more beyond in understanding traditional herbs, aspects of nature and divinity and wholistic development that builds on your health and well being.
I am trying some recipes and can't wait to refer to it again.

Thanks Netgalley for the eARC.

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Love Korean culture and Korean food. This book was very informative and fun to read. My favourite recipe was the Kimchi cauliflower rice. I am obsess with kimchi and will be using this recipe often !
Book is full of amazing recipes that can be used for healthy and nutritious lunch and breakfast.
I really enjoyed the book and will consider buying hard copy.

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