Flavours that Koreans Favor: Sweets

Green tea

Green tea comes in many more forms than as a drink in your teacup in Korea. The flavour is popular all around Asia, but Koreans really put it everywhere. It is not as sweet or rich as caramel and other stuff you can find in the typical western confectionery aisles at supermarkets, but the slightly bitter taste is oddly addictive. And this is coming from someone who does not even drink tea! So far I have tried green tea shaved ice (topped with red beans and cashew nuts), green tea cake, and even green tea doughnuts. It is a must try flavour if you visit Korea; you will find it everywhere from convenience stores to cafes to bakeries.

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Red beans

This one might seem quite odd to people who are used to beans being an ingredient in savoury meals like chili con carne or a full English breakfast. The red bean variety that is used as a sweet in Korea, Japan and China, is actually a different, smaller bean that is normally boiled with sugar to form a sweet paste. It is a very common flavour in baked stuffs as a filling or a topping, or in traditional red bean shaved ice (patbingsu). If you crave sweets but want to at least pretend to eat healthy, red beans are meant for you! They are a good source of minerals such as magnesium, zinc and iron.

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Cheese

Even though cheese arrived to Korea not too long ago with all the western food, it has become an extremely popular flavour in both sweet and savoury foods. One can never be sure whether the cheese-flavoured snack will be sweet or not, because Koreans don’t seem to care about the distinction between cheese and cream cheese: cheese pastry – savoury, but cheese muffin – sweet. Logical? Maybe for them.

Different types of cheesecakes and cream cheese filled bagels can be found in most cafes and bakeries.

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Honey

Nothing is sweeter than honey, and people here know it. This sticky treat is used to sweeten cakes, cookies and drinks. Koreans even think that drizzling honey on half a loaf of toast and serving it in a café makes it a dessert, bless them. I prefer my toast toasted and in thin slices, but since honey bread is a Big Thing over here, I might try it out with some friends at some point (that thing has way too many carbs for one person).

Honey seems to be a popular flavour in almost any type of snack, varying from traditional rice cakes to convenience store crisps. By the way – strawberry and honey juice from Café Ogada is absolutely heavenly!

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…And many more

I have gotten so many suggestions from my Korean co-writers of all the different popular sweet flavours I should try, including peach, plum, sweet potato and yeot, which is a type of traditional Korean sweet. Some flavours are similar to the ones that are typically eaten in my home country, but others are completely new and exciting. Generally it seems like there is a trend of favoring ingredients that are typical to Asia, as well as mixing sweetness with hints of bitter or savoury.

Either way, Korea offers tons of new and interesting flavours, so I would definitely recommend trying things that are popular with locals for those who have a bit of a sweet tooth.

 

Article by Miia from the U.K.

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