“Gukhwa(국화) tea or chrysanthemum flower tea eases stress and clears your mind. It also has medical effect of protecting liver cells.” Guksim(국심) Co. has an in-house team, exclusive for growing chrysanthemum for commercial use. The company is the second biggest among the seven Korean chrysanthemum tea manufacturers in terms of sales, but it is confident that its tea is of top quality.
Its scent and taste outshine others, as the chrysanthemum flower grown there is of higher quality. The natural environment in Masan(마산) is ideal for growing the wild flower as there are many days of sunshine and less fog with breeze always blowing from the sea at higher temperatures compared to other regions.
With chrysanthemum tea as the main product, Guksim also produces chrysanthemum flower-fermented makgeolli(막걸리), or rice wine, and gukhwa-scented beauty products such as shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Gukhwa tea is produced from frosty late October until early November, when flowers are picked by hands, dried, made clean, ground and then packed as final product. In particular, Gukhwa-fermented makgeolli under application for patent is very popular with some 20,000 bottles sold during a chrysanthemum festival period last month.
Almost every product from Guksim has already been patented or patent-pending. Guksim has four patents, including the technology for compounds helping to protect liver cells, with three patents under review.
Its research institute has proceeded to develop new products with chrysanthemum flowers. They are putting final touches on the gukhwa-fermented light beverage after two years of R&D spending. The product will be released in spring next year. “My long relationship with chrysanthemum led me into this business,” Jeon said.
Jeon graduated from the Junior College of Agriculture affiliated with the Rural Development Administration and worked at the Masan Agricultural Technology Center for 29 years. He set up a plan to host the chrysanthemum festival first and tried hard to gain knowledge about chrysanthemum drinks.
Masan(마산) was the first region to grow chrysanthemum and attracts about 1 million tourists to the chrysanthemum festival every year. However, he regretted that there were no tourist attractions of its own and jumped into the business, abandoning the public service job.
He has set up a long-term plan to turn Jinbuk-myeon(진북면), where there are many chrysanthemum farming households, into a chrysanthemum cluster. “There is good natural environment such as Mt. Seobuk, a reservoir and a cypress forest suitable for chrysanthemum farming in Geumsan-ri(금산리), Jinbuk-myeon(진북면),” said Jeon. “I will build a chrysanthemum cluster encompassing a spa, restaurants and a museum as well as make an edible chrysanthemum farming complex here.” He said he will make further efforts to realize his dream towards annual output of 5 billion won within three years.