We make it a habit to have a cup of ginger tea before we eat our meals. It aids digestion, improves appetite, and reduces flatulence.
Ginger is one of the most abundant, vibrant, delightful and hardworking spices around, but it rarely receives the recognition it deserves. If you're not familiar with the wonders of it as a tea, then this is a most auspicious occasion. Let me introduce you to not only a new flavor dimension for your afternoon tea, but the whole world of health benefits that tasty, tingly beverage offers you. I'll brew us a pot and grab a plate of biscuits. Pull up a chair and we'll explore. Sound good?
What Is Ginger Tea?
Ginger tea is a spicy beverage enjoyed regularly throughout Asia and is well-known throughout most of the world. It can be steeped with or without the addition of tea leaves and is excellent served with honey or lemon. It's usually served hot, but this isn't always the case.
My husband insists on letting his cool until it's room temperature before taking the first satisfying sip. It can also be served iced. I've noticed that ginger tea always seems to produce its own unique signature smile too, which is a rather nice side effect indeed. In China, it's commonly steeped with brown sugar. In Korea, it's made with ginger sweetened and preserved in honey. It's a tasty treat and we're going to explore the many benefits of regularly sipping ginger tea for your health and wellbeing.
How to Make Ginger Tea
Making this tea is not difficult in the least. There are dried, bagged, and boxed versions available, but I would suggest for maximum flavor and maximum health benefit to make it with fresh ginger. You can find it readily available at your local market or grocery store quite easily.
- Wash your ginger root well and dry. (You can peel it or not, the choice is up to you. We don't tend to peel ours unless there's a dry or questionable patch on it.)
- Cut your root into 1/4" thick slices. (There's no need to be fancy. These will be tossed out when you're finished.)
- Boil 1 1/2 cups of water and add the slices.
- Reduce the heat to simmer, cover, and let it sit for 5–10 minutes.
- When it's finished, you can then add sugar, honey, lemon, tea leaves, milk, cream, or whatever other ingredients you wish at that time.
- Strain and enjoy!
The Health Benefits of Tingly, Tasty Ginger Tea
Did you know Confucius was known to never take a meal without having ginger? I don't blame him. Since 500 BC, the world has known the immense benefits ginger has for the digestive system. This is because ginger contains shogaols and gingerols that beneficially stimulate the production of gastric juices, bile, and saliva, which contain enzymes that promote proper balanced digestion of food.
We make it a habit to have a cup of ginger tea before we eat our meals. Not only does it aid with digestion, it improves appetite and also helps guard against any unpleasant flatulence or belching. I can't think of one circumstance where that isn't a plus. It was lauded as the "Alka-Seltzer of the Roman Empire" and given to soldiers of the Revolutionary War as a regular part of their diet. It almost makes you feel the flow of human history rushed along on the benefits of a warm and delicious river of ginger tea enough to take up a paddle.
Nausea, Dizziness, and Upset Stomach
If you're suffering with nausea and dizziness due to flu, morning sickness, motion sickness or are post-operative, a nice of cup of ginger tea a few times a day will give you relief. Ginger has an immense calming and warming effect on the stomach. I eat a small piece of it raw or brew a cup for heart burn, and it works more quickly than any chalky tablet. It's a lot more pleasant too.
Recovery From Sickness
If you are down with a cold or the flu, you just can't beat snuggling up with a cup of ginger tea. It will warm the body and ease your chills and body aches. It's also a source of vitamin C, which gives a healthy boost to the immune system while you're down. Try adding a little lemon or honey for a sore throat or cough for added support and relief. It will help you restore your voice as well.
Source of Potassium
Did you also know that drinking a cup of ginger tea regularly is an excellent and beneficial source of potassium? It's a nice trade-off if you're not a banana-eater. The health benefits of having an adequate amount of potassium in the diet include the prevention of stroke and high blood pressure, reducing anxiety and stress, increased muscle strength, balance water in the body and electrolyte function, and the promotion of healthy functioning of the kidney, nervous system, and heart.
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Ginger has also been touted throughout the pages of history as an aphrodisiac. It was lauded extensively by the ancient Greeks as both a booster and a sustainer of one's amorous nature. Italy's famous University of Salerno medical school prescribed that a rule for happy life in old age was to “eat ginger, and you will love and be loved as in your youth.” Sounds like we can throw away that bottle of wine and steep up a nice steamy pot of ginger to take to the boudoir instead.
Ginger tea can also help with tooth pain, the pain associated with menstrual cramping, and a hangover. If you suffer migraines, try a cup of ginger tea at the onset. It not only helps with the headache pain, but it will also help with the subsequent nausea.
Want a healthy heart? Another benefit of ginger tea is that it helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels. It also reduces clotting and thinning of the blood, promoting healthy circulation and lowering blood pressure.
If you're tired of drinking it, you can also use the tea as a foot soak. It's anti-fungal properties are an effective way to treat athlete's foot.
A Bit of History About Ginger
Ginger is a botanical relative of marjoram and turmeric and is indigenous to Southeast Asia. Did you know we would have to go back nearly 5,000 years to begin our search through the history of this root?
It appears in Greek literature about 200 BC, where it's medicinal as well as economic importance were chronicled for the first time. It was first cultivated in China where the vast wealth associated with growing large fields of the spice were extolled. Simultaneously, it was also grown in India and used extensively as a beneficial tonic, although it's been cultivated for ages in many countries. Ginger was first exported from India to the Roman Empire, where it became a very popular every day spice. But after the empire fell, its use almost entirely died out in that region until the Arabs took over the spice trading in the East.
In the 11th century, ginger was added to buttermilk drinks by the Europeans. But roughly 200 years after, it began being widely used in pastes and the cooking of meats by the merits of its preservative abilities. By the 13th and 14th centuries, this useful herb had come into its own as a useful and beneficial spice. It was so valuable that one pound of it could buy you a sheep. In the 15th century, ginger plants were being carried by Arab traders throughout Africa and its rhizomes also transported by ship to the Caribbean, where further cultivation and expansion of its popularity began.
The early Greeks mixed the root in their breads, giving rise to the first "ginger breads." American colonists brewed it into beer, sipping it to calm digestive ailments, which today we call ginger ale.
Here is a list of symptoms that ginger can been used to address:
- morning sickness
- common cold
- chronic pain
- muscle aches
- arthritis pain
- bad breath
The Spiritual Side of Ginger
It's hard to argue the sense of relaxation and peace you feel snuggling up with a cup of your favorite tea. Ginger tea has been believed to have a spiritual dimension since its use began. Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Indian systems viewed ginger as a healing gift from God. Chinese pharmacopeias claim long-term use of the fresh root will put a person in contact with spiritual graces. Writings of the Quran describe ginger as a beverage of the holiest heavenly spirits.
Regardless of what you use this tea for, you'll find a pleasant, soothing, warming, and relaxing surprise in every cup. Enjoy!
© 2011 Moon Lightened