Turmeric is a bright yellow spice from the root of the curcuma plant. It’s usually used in curries, although most people come into contact with it when it’s used as food coloring — bright yellow American mustards almost always use the spice.
But it’s the spice’s reputation as an anti-inflammatory agent that really got me interested in the stuff. Some years back, I had an extremely invasive procedure done to remove a tumor from the center of my spinal cord, and this has left me with some pretty annoying chronic pain. In addition to that, as I reach my mid-30s, I realize that I’m not as spry as I used to be, and that means more aches and pains when I push things too hard. Since I try not to rely on pain relievers, I’m always willing to try methods of pain relief that aren’t addictive — and in the case of this turmeric tea, the medicine goes down pretty easy.
Turmeric Tea (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
- 1/3 cup honey. I asked my followers on Twitter yesterday what the best kind of honey is available here locally, and many of them recommended K-Bee honey, and after trying it, I agree.
- 3 teaspoons turmeric powder. I get mine from a local Chinese grocery store.
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Lemon (optional)
- Black pepper (optional)
Combine your honey, turmeric, and cinnamon together in a mortar, working the mixture until it forms a smooth paste. Once you’ve made your paste, immediately transfer it to another container and wash your mortar and pestle thoroughly. Turmeric stains, so you don’t want to let it sit for too long or everything will be yellow.
To make the tea, take a heaping teaspoon of paste and dissolve it in 8 ounces of hot water. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and a healthy amount of black pepper (trust me on the pepper) and enjoy a drink that is sweet, earthy, and nicely spiced. It’s a warming tea, and one that can help with digestive problems and general inflammation.
As a final note: the Japanese swear by turmeric-based drinks to prevent and recover from hangovers. I quit drinking awhile back, so I haven’t had the opportunity to put this idea to the test. One of our local herb and natural products sellers, Maison Terre, sells a hangover tea that has turmeric as an ingredient, so any of you interested in trying it should get some and let me know if it helps. For more health benefit claims about the spice, check out the turmeric page over on World’s Healthiest Foods. Happy cooking!