5. Human-shaped ginseng roots are highly prized
Ginseng roots are graded mainly through their appearance. After drying the root and removing stray hairs, it undergoes a screening process. Only 1,000 specially selected female staff with decades of experience are qualified to undertake this step. The grading and selection process is highly guarded and considered a trade secret. When undergoing the grading process, the roots with a human-like appearance – namely two symmetrical ‘legs’ and a well-formed ‘head’ – will receive a higher grade. There are three main grades of ginseng: Heaven, Earth and Good. While outward appearance largely contributes to the ratings, it’s the internal screening that determines the root’s final grade. This screening is conducted in a dark room where the ‘examiner’ shines an orange light through the root looking for flaws.