By Joanne Thomas

Following centuries of spice stardom in the Ayurvedic tradition, turmeric has been embraced by the western wellness community for its anti-inflammatory properties and health claims ranging from cancer prevention to improved brain health. Plus, the conventional medical community gives turmeric a nod, with the venerable National Institutes of Health saying its active compound, curcumin, has definite benefits. Even Starbucks has released a turmeric latte, so it's safe to say turmeric has made its way into the mainstream. This is good news, because it means turmeric – fresh, ground, as tea bags or extracts – is easier than ever to find, as are recipes for turmeric-infused drinks. Experiment with drinking your turmeric and discover that it's an easy and delicious way to give your body a boost.

Golden Milk, Turmeric Latte, Golden Latte
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How to Drink Turmeric

Warm it Up: Turmeric Tea, Golden Milk and Turmeric Lattes

You can easily prepare turmeric tea, golden milk (warm milk infused with turmeric) and turmeric lattes at home, and they start with the same simple method. In a small saucepan, simmer ground turmeric or fresh turmeric, chopped or grated, in water for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Strain the tea through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter to leave behind any solids from fresh turmeric or powdery residue from ground turmeric. Substitute milk – dairy, nut and soy milks all work equally well – for all or some of the water for golden milk. To create a picture-perfect turmeric latte, pour warm golden milk over a steaming shot of espresso.

You might simmer other spices along with the turmeric, such as fresh or ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom pods and cloves. Freshly ground black pepper is known to help your body glean greater health benefits from turmeric, so add a pinch. Sweeten your warm drink with a little honey or maple syrup, if you wish. All of these preparations are also delightful served cold. Maybe make a double batch so you can enjoy a warm turmeric drink now and put the rest in the refrigerator for later.

Cool Elixirs: Turmeric Tonics and Shots

Turmeric shots pack a dose of the spice, plus other nutritious-powerhouse ingredients, into a concentrated serving. The strong flavor can be a little much for an unaccustomed palate, so you can either shoot it down the hatch and chase it with juice, or dilute the shot with sparkling water, coconut water or iced green tea and sip it as a tonic. To prepare a basic turmeric shot, blend fresh or ground turmeric with the juice from a lemon and optionally fresh or ground ginger and a little black pepper. Some recipes call for apple cider vinegar, or the more appealing option of different fruits, such as fresh kiwi, mango or berries. High-powered blenders and electric juicers are both ideal for making turmeric shots, but any kind of blender should be up to the task.

Fruit and Veg Boost: Turmeric-Infused Smoothies and Juices

An easy and tasty way to drink some turmeric is to add a spoonful or two of ground turmeric or a piece of fresh turmeric to your favorite homemade smoothie or green juice. Chances are you won't notice a significant alteration in the flavor or texture, especially if your juice or smoothie has other strongly flavored ingredients. Simply add the spice to your blender or juicer along with everything else.

How Much Turmeric to Add, and How

How much turmeric to add to your drink of choice depends highly on your personal preference. Some people enjoy its warm, aromatic properties while others can't quite get over its savory curry-like associations. Experiment with varying amounts to find your own turmeric tolerance. Most recipes for teas and tonics call for approximately 1/2 teaspoon of ground or a 1-inch piece of fresh turmeric per cup of liquid.

Know that ground turmeric won't fully dissolve in liquid, even when it's hot. Straining infused warm tea or milk alleviates this problem, but in cold concoctions, you can just stir the mixture vigorously before you drink it. Leave the last few sips at the bottom of the cup if you find it too unpleasant. Fresh turmeric, likewise, can be noticeable in drinks that aren't strained. A high-powered blender is best for pulverizing it, but a microplane grater can do a good job, too.

Both ground and fresh turmeric stain everything they touch, so be ready to quickly wash your hands and kitchen equipment. Bright yellow fingers are a difficult look to pull off.