It can go without saying that ginger has been a massive part of the human way of life for a long, long time. Ginger is used for flavoring in cooking, it is used for medicine, and it has played a role in history for thousands of years. Naturally, this means that people will have turned it into a tea.
The problem with this is that ginger is known to have a very strong taste, and to some people, this strong taste is not a welcome one. If you find that you are drinking ginger tea for the health benefits, much as you would for cough syrup, you might want to try and do what you can to make the ginger tea taste better.
Thankfully, because ginger has been such a massive part of life for thousands of years, there are quite a few ways that you can work with ginger tea to try and make the taste more bearable on a stomach that may already be tossing and turning.
With that being said, before you work with the ginger tea to try and make it better, you will want to understand what ginger’s role in history has been, and why ginger tea has the medicinal benefits that it does.
This will help you know that it will be worth drinking the ginger tea to ease your ailments, even if it has a strong and uncomfortable taste to it.
The Role That Ginger Has Played in History
Ginger is one of the unique plants that plays a role in both culinary history and medicinal history. The plant family that it comes from is one that has both cardamom and turmeric, noting both the strong coloration of the ginger and its powerful taste.
Ginger’s health benefits come from its composition of ketones and gingerols, which have been studied extensively.
It is hard to pinpoint how long ginger has been a part of the way that people live. In Indian and Chinese history, ginger has played a medicinal role for well over 5,000 years, being used to treat ailments of all different kinds.
As for the culinary side of things, it is a known fact that ginger has been used in food before people began formally recording recipes (or at least from the recovered recipes).
It is also known that, approximately 2,000 years ago, ginger was an incredibly important item of trade between India and the Roman Empire, though this was mostly for its medicinal properties rather than its flavoring ones.
At one point, sometime during the 13th and 14th centuries, one pound of ginger was the equivalent to a sheep, and in medieval times, it began being used as a sweet treat.
Naturally, a root that has been used for this long for medicinal purposes likely has an actual effect on the human body, and this has been shown through the extensive research that scientists have been doing.
It has been shown that ginger works mostly in the gastrointestinal tract, where it accumulates the most, offering relief from many issues that can cause distress in this area of the body.
Over the past thousands of years, it has been claimed that ginger can treat anything from the common cold to cancer. Of course, as with many medicinal herbs, these claims are unsubstantiated and unresearched.
With more and more people taking an interest in ginger, more scientific research has been done on it to show that it has several functions in the human body, including being an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory agent, an anti-nausea compound, and to some degree, an anti-cancer agent.
With these effects that ginger can provide, it would make sense that you would want to have a healthy amount of ginger tea in your life, despite its strong taste.
Luckily, with as long as ginger has been around, there are quite a few ways that you can soften the harsh taste of ginger, making it a more bearable drink.
Adding Flavor to Ginger Tea
At first, you may not be too fond of the idea of adding flavor to ginger tea. After all, it already has a pretty potent and noticeable flavor, so wouldn’t adding another flavor to it make it even more overwhelming?
Depending on what you are adding to it, it certainly may. One interesting fact about ginger is that some people are mostly affected by the sharp smell, but believe it has a rather dull taste, so adding some of these flavors to the tea may give it the spice it needs to be enticing to drink.
On the other hand, some of these flavors can complement the ginger flavoring, mingling with it in such a way that its harshness is soothed so you don’t have to grimace when you take a sip of it.
These flavors that you can add to ginger cover a wide range of tastes and preferences, so you will surely be able to find one that will work well for you.
One common variation of ginger tea in India is known as Masala Chai tea. As the name might suggest, this type of tea makes use of chai to help offset and enhance the ginger tea’s taste.
In addition to the chai, masala chai typically makes use of more milk, herbs, and spices that make it more aromatic to take away that harsh smell of ginger.
Traditionally, masala chai is prepared with spices that are meant to warm you up, in a sense. These include ground ginger and cardamom pods as a base, with additional spices of cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, nutmeg, cloves, honey, and vanilla.
In the west, commonly in the United States, people will use allspice to replace the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, meaning that you don’t have to invest in too much to create this tea.
Surprisingly, people will add turmeric powder to their ginger tea. This is done to create an explosive flavor profile while also enhancing the natural antioxidant effects of both plants.
People will typically use about one half of a teaspoon of turmeric powder for each cup of ginger tea. Keep in mind that if you are opting for a mild, soothing flavor, this is not going to be the adaptation to make, as turmeric is one of the main spices in curries.
In a similar line of thinking, people who are looking for a spicy, hot drink to have to start the morning with may want to add cayenne pepper to their ginger tea.
It is crucial to note that this is going to be an extremely harsh flavor, but if you are one of the people who believe that ginger tea has too dull of a taste and you are someone who thoroughly enjoys hot foods, then this might be the best way to flavor your tea.
If you are looking for a way to soothe yourself, maybe you are drinking ginger tea because you already feel sick, you are not going to want to try these hot and overwhelming flavor profiles.
There are still some various ways that you can add flavor to your ginger tea without turning it into something that you will regret when you already feel as if you can’t keep down standard food.
For example, one addition that people will make, commonly in cases where you do not actually want the warmth of the ginger tea, is going to be to add mint and ice to the ginger tea.
Both the mint and the ice will work in tandem to create a cold, soothing drink to enjoy. For this drink, you will first want to let the ginger tea cool down on its own to room temperature and then you will want to add ice cubes to it.
If you would rather hasten the process of the cooling, you can also consider putting the tea in the fridge. Once the tea has reached the desired temperature, you will want to add some sprigs of mint to the tea and enjoy.
This soothing combination can work wonders for people who do not want the warm kick of ginger, but do want all the health benefits of it.
If you are not in the mood for the cold effect of ice and mint, but you still do not feel up to the spicy kick of ginger, a different adaptation that you can make is going to be lemon juice, surprisingly enough.
The lemon juice helps to take some of the edge off the ginger flavor, and it is known for being soothing to sore throats.
Most lemon juice has a fair amount of vitamin C in it as well, which is well known for fighting off colds. For this, all you will need to do is squeeze about a quarter of a lemon into your ginger tea and you will be able to feel and taste the difference from there.
Using lemonade for this is not recommended, as lemonade tends to be heavily sweetened and that sweetness can clash heavily with the ginger.
Even the sweetest additions you can make to ginger tea aren’t as sweet and sugar-heavy as lemonade tends to be, so you will want to opt for using pure lemon juice for enhancing your ginger tea.
If you are someone who doesn’t mind adding some sugar to the tea, although it will be nowhere near the content that is in lemonade, you can consider adding maple syrup to your tea.
The viscosity of maple syrup is known for helping to soothe sore throats and because most syrups have a rich flavor, it can deafen the harshness of ginger’s natural flavor. If maple syrup is not something that you have a lot of, you can achieve the same effect with honey or stevia.
Keep in mind that, much like with lemonade versus lemon juice, you will not want to use flavored syrups with this. The flavored syrups may contain chemicals to help create that flavor, and when you are drinking ginger tea because you are already not feeling well, you will not want to put something as harsh as chemicals into your gut.
If you are drinking the tea as a form of a supplement, there may be a chance that there is a flavored syrup that matches and complements ginger’s flavor profile, but this is completely up to personal taste.
Last, but most certainly not least, one of the best ways to change ginger tea’s flavor while still keeping that warmth that ginger provides is going to be to add apples and cinnamon to the tea.
The taste of apples can help to offset the harshness of ginger’s spice, add some flavor to the relatively dull taste of ginger, and add some health to the tea as well. The cinnamon helps to enhance the warming effects of ginger while also helping the drink feel more comforting on the way down.
For this, you will want to start by adding some thin pieces of apple to the brewing tea at the same time that you add the ginger to the tea. You can use any apples that you choose, but it is heavily recommended that you stay away from bitter and sour apples such as the notorious Granny Smith apple, as their flavor profile will actually enhance the sharpness of ginger rather than tone it down.
You should stick to apples that have a sweeter and mellower profile to them for this process. At the same time, you will also want to add about one inch of a cinnamon stick to the brew when you are adding the apples.
If you do not have cinnamon sticks with you and you cannot order them in enough time, you can consider using cinnamon spice, although this may take a bit more trial and error to determine how many shakes of the bottle equals an inch of a cinnamon stick.
As a rule of thumb, between one and three inches of a cinnamon stick will be about half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. If you want a similar taste, you can also substitute that half-teaspoon of ground cinnamon for a half-teaspoon of allspice, a quarter-teaspoon of nutmeg, or a half-teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.