Last week I had a nasty little cold. It didn’t last especially long, but it knocked me flat for a good solid two days. Well, not quite flat–I worked from home, and found myself juggling conference calls for hours on end. It’s a bit hard to come across as professional when you’re muting your phone every couple minutes for a coughing fit.
When it comes to colds, I’m very much of the “tough it out” school. I’m leery of medicating myself, so I stick to hot fluids and zinc. But after about my third conference call in a row, with a scraping dry cough that just would not quit, and no chicken broth in the house, I decided it was time for a real restorative. So I hit up the Internet for ideas and went rattling through my kitchen cupboards and fridge, hoping to stumble on a concoction that would at least help me get through the rest of the day.
This tea was actually the second thing I tried (the first, which involved flaxseeds, turned out kind of snotlike and had to be thrown away). The base of the tea is a paste made of honey, turmeric, and ground ginger; it’s pungent stuff, a deep yellow-brown color, the kind of color I could imagine in a very chic trenchcoat. I whisked it all up in a cute little jar, and slipped it onto a pantry shelf with my other boxes and tins of tea. A bare spoonful stirred into some hot water, with a squeeze of lemon and a grinding of pepper, turned out to be just the wake-up call my body needed. Within half an hour, I noticed that my coughs were less frequent and more productive; after several hours, when I started feeling nasty again, I made another mug of tea and went to bed. In the morning I could already feel my chest clearing out.
There’s a lot going on here. Between the anti-inflammatory turmeric (which the black pepper helps the body absorb), the cough-suppressing honey, the stomach-soothing ginger, and the vitamin C-rich lemon, this stuff packs a punch. It definitely tastes like a tonic, but in a pleasant way: earthy and slightly bitter, sharp and spicy, sweet and tangy. A little of the concentrate goes a long way, so even the small amount I made is likely to last through the New Year. I’ll be using this all through the winter to ward off colds–or, at the very least, help soothe myself once they take hold.
Turmeric Ginger Tea (makes about 12-15 servings)
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Update: Since I first posted this recipe, I’ve discovered that it’s even more versatile than I originally imagined. I’ve tweaked the recipe to include instructions for my three favorite ways to use this stuff–I imagine there are plenty more. According to my internet research, you’ll want to consume this with either black pepper or some kind of fat, to increase the bioavailability of the good stuff in the turmeric.
Whisk together 1/3 cup (5 heaping tbsp) raw honey, 2 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1 tsp ground ginger to form a smooth, slightly gritty paste. (Turmeric stains, so be careful!) Transfer to an airtight container or glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. The concentrate will keep pretty much indefinitely in the pantry.
Option 1: Place 1 heaping tsp of the concentrate in the bottom of a mug. Pour over hot (not quite boiling) water, and finish with a squeeze of lemon and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir the tea occasionally as you drink it, to keep the solids from settling to the bottom of the mug.
Option 2: Heat a mugful of whole/lowfat milk or almond milk until it’s steaming. Stir in 1 heaping tsp of the concentrate, making sure it’s thoroughly dissolved. Stir once or twice as you drink, to keep the solids from settling to the bottom (since milk is thicker than water, you won’t need to stir as much).
Option 3: Make a bowl of oatmeal–my go-to ratio is 1/2 cup rolled oats to 1 cup water. Stir in 1 heaping tsp of the concentrate, along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.