Fresh Ginger Tea
About one and a half years ago, when I decided to get serious about healing my various ailments, I literally tried just about every diet change possible... not to mention a great many tinctures, supplements, and even some very odd recommendations that I found online. (I’m working on writing up the complete story in which I'll will share what worked and what didn’t.)
One of the first things I quit was coffee. That was really hard, because I loved my morning latte (stove-top espresso with honey and some cream; iced in the summer months). But I was desperate. I can’t say that quitting coffee cured anything, except that I discovered how irritable it made me. Both when I didn’t get it AND after I drank it. I hadn’t really realized how much it amped up my system and set me on edge.
So I switched to tea. At first black, and then green. Drinking tea instead of coffee helped to slowly wean me off of the caffeine. I got headaches when I was first trying to quit caffeine cold turkey, and it was quite hard to adjust to getting up in the morning without the buzz shock. I was never a morning person to begin with, and at first this made getting going much harder.
After a while, it seemed that tea was aggravating some of my conditions. Later, when I quit milk and cream (when I went dairy-free, which I’ll discuss more in another post), drinking the coffee and tea became a lot less desirable anyway. I just didn’t really enjoy them without the dairy. (And, yes I tried many substitutes, but to me they weren’t the same.) This turned out to be a blessing, because it made it easy to quit drinking coffee and caffeinated tea altogether.
But, if I wasn't going to drink coffee or caffeinated tea, I wanted something else that would satisfy my desire for a warm drink to start the day. I like a little chamomile or fennel tea sometimes, but I find most herbal teas don’t really satisfy or I get tired of them quickly. Also, living here in Argentina (where I’ve been the last three years), it’s one thing to find the basics, but all of the neat coffee alternatives and the zillion varieties of tea just are not available here (especially if one doesn’t live in Buenos Aires).
Plus, I've discovered that it helps my body functions to get some water in my system before anything else. For a while I just drank straight-up water and lemon juice, which was great for my digestion... but again it wasn’t fully satisfying, especially during the chilly winter season. (Check out this post that shows what kind of a transformation can happen when you drink enough water.)
After lots of experimenting I discovered fresh ginger tea. It tastes fresh, warm, clean, and is pleasantly satisfying. I can’t claim I’ve noticed any dramatic health changes while drinking it, though I think it does settle my stomach (and I don't get irritable or edgy!). By nature, my stress tends to manifest in tight and upset digestion. I do like knowing that it is healthy and that studies have shown benefits (see here too) for those who consume ginger regularly.
Now I drink fresh ginger tea most mornings. I love that it’s not addictive, so there’s no struggle when I’m traveling and can’t get ‘my fix’. And I also look forward to it, which I can’t say about most other breakfast beverages anymore. And, when in doubt, I can always drink 2-3 glasses of water with fresh lemon juice.
By the way, I have tried dried ginger when the fresh wasn’t available at the market and it isn’t at all the same at all.
Fresh ginger stores very well in the refrigerator, so I keep a pretty big stock on hand. I find the best way to make it last (without shriveling up and drying out, or molding) is to take a big ziplock bag and put a paper towel in the bottom of it. Then I fold down the sides of the bag so the top remains open, kind of like a plastic basket with a paper towel liner. I store the ginger this way, with the top open, tucked somewhere in the fridge. It can last for months this way.
Interestingly, I am gradually becoming more of a morning person. I used to need at least 9 hours of sleep per night (preferably 10-13!). Just recently I’ve started waking up earlier, before the alarm, after only 8 hours. Not only do I wake up earlier, but I feel rested and ready to get up and start the day. And I don't find myself snapping at my husband int he mornings either.
This transition to needing less sleep and having more energy has taken at least a year, and has been very, very gradual.
You might ask if I still crave coffee? Actually I don’t. Now and then I catch a whiff of fresh coffee… and I still love that smell. But the feelings I associate with actually drinking it are no longer positive, so it’s easy for me to pass it up.
Now, how about that recipe for fresh ginger tea?
How to Make Fresh Ginger Tea
One knob or large slice of fresh ginger (I use a piece up to the size of my thumb, but you can start with less)
1 whole lemon
While the water comes to a boil, peel the ginger.
-To make a small pot that holds a little over 3 cups, I break or cut off a piece of ginger about the size of my thumb. Then I use a paring knife to remove the outer skin and any tough spots. -
Thinly slice and/or chop the ginger.
Pour the hot water over the ginger and let it steep for at least 15-20 minutes. (Though you can leave it to steep as long as you like.)
If you want sweetener (which you might at first, if this is all new to you), you can add a little honey to taste while the water is still hot.
Pour a cup and add a few good squeezes of fresh lemon juice. (I typically use a whole lemon for the +/-three cups I drink.)
If you don’t want it hot, just add ice, or refrigerate and store for later.
Afterwards, I usually eat a few of the pieces of ginger (though some fresh ginger is tastier than others) and toss the rest. You could also save it for another recipe if you are planning ahead.
For variety, you can also steep the ginger with some fresh mint. However, my go-to morning cuppa is straight-up fresh ginger tea with lemon juice.
To chime in or leave a comment/question about this recipe, please use this link.