Start to Finish: 35 minutes Servings: Approximately four 6-ounce cups Difficulty Level: Beginner
Unless you live in an isolated area, any number of stimulating beverages are likely available within a few minutes' drive. Coffee, tea and energy drinks all have their place, but sometimes it's nice to have a gentler pick-me-up. Ginger tea is just about perfect for the purpose.
1 large piece fresh ginger 4 cups water 1 to 2 tablespoons honey or other sweetener, to taste
Cut 12 to 15 slices, approximately 1/8 inch thick, from the ginger.
Pour 4 cups of water into a saucepan, and add the ginger.
Simmer the ginger briskly for 25 to 30 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to approximately 3 cups and smells strongly of ginger.
Stir in honey or an alternative sweetener, to taste.
Strain the solids from your ginger tea. Drink it immediately, while hot, or chill it and reheat it for later consumption.
Theme and Variations
Ginger has a notable affinity for citrus fruit. Add a tablespoon each of lemon juice and lemon zest -- or frozen orange juice concentrate and orange zest -- for a brighter, livelier tea.
Alternatively, use cold ginger tea as part or all of the liquid when you make up a batch of lemonade or orange juice.
Ginger tea is caffeine-free, but it plays nicely with regular tea as well if you need something a little more stimulating. Just add one or two bags or tablespoons of your favorite black tea to the saucepan, for the last 5 to 8 minutes of infusion time.
Either the plain or black-tea-added version of ginger tea makes an excellent base for chai. Add any combination of cinnamon sticks, crushed cardamoms, star anise -- or other spices that appeal to you -- to the saucepan. Add milk or evaporated milk to the finished tea and boil it to a froth, or strain the tea into your mug and add frothy steamed milk.
More than Flavor
Ginger tea is more than just a pleasant beverage. It's naturally adept at clearing a stuffy head, if you're prone to allergies or sinusitis. It's also pretty effective at helping settle a queasy stomach when you're nauseous, but don't necessarily want to take medications. If you're already on medications to lower your blood sugar or anticoagulants to thin your blood, you should consume ginger -- well, gingerly -- because it can magnify their effects.