Benefits of Tasty, Tingly Ginger Tea
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 it's own unique signature smile too which is a rather nice side effect, indeed. In China, its 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 well-being.
A Bit of History About Ginger
Ginger is a botanical relative of marjoram and turmeric which 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 B.C 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 it's 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 it wasn't until roughly 200 years after that 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 it's 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 it's 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," and American colonists brewed it into beer, sipping it to calm digestive ailments, which today we call ginger ale.
Quick List of Conditions It Helps With:
The Health Benefits of Tingly, Tasty Ginger Tea
Here's where we'll tear into the benefits of tasty ginger tea. Did you know Confucius was known to never take a meal without having ginger? I don't blame him. Since 500 B.C. the world has known the immense benefits ginger has for the digestive system. This is because ginger contains shogoals and gingerols which 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.
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 then any chalky tablet. It's a lot more pleasant too.
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.
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 also support healthy kidneys, nervous system and heart.
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 head ache pain but it will 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 Note of Caution About Use
Do not take ginger or drink it as tea during pregnancy without consulting your doctor. If you have a medical history of gallstones, you should also consult your doctor before taking ginger tea. This tea should not be taken before any kind of surgery and should be stopped at least a week prior to the day of surgery. The high amount of ginger intake can cause stomach problems, as well as deter necessary blood clotting.
How To Prepare:
Tips For Fresh Ginger:
How to Make It
I'll bet you were wondering if I'd ever get around to telling you how to make it, right? I get so caught up in my own love of this beneficial little beverage it's easy to forget the most obvious thing. 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 making it with fresh ginger. You can find it readily available at your local market or grocery store quite easily.
Here's what you need to do...
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, and 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 to 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 Spiritual Side
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 it's 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 Koran 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, relaxing surprise in every cup. Enjoy!
© 2011 Moon Lightened