Introduction: Basic Ginger Tea

Picture of Basic Ginger Tea

(First of all, I know it's technically a tisane/infusion, not tea.  Moving on...)

In this instructable, I'm going to show you how to make a quick, simple ginger tea, which is delicious, warming, and great for dealing with sore throats, sniffles, colds, and the like.  Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) contains an impressive selection of antimicrobial and antifungal compounds to help clear up whatever ails you, with the added bonus of stimulating VR1 (capsaicin) receptors to make you feel warm (fantastic when coming inside from the rain or snow).  There's also quite a bit of evidence (plus plenty of anecdote) to suggest that it helps with nausea as well (citation), so this is great to brew up once the winter vomiting bug rolls around.  (A few more citations here, here, and here for the skeptical among you.  This is a fairly random selection from a few quick PubMed searches; there's plenty more out there.) 

This is a very quick, very simple recipe, and one of my favourites.  I always try to keep some fresh ginger around the kitchen during cold and flu season, and even more so in the beginning of the academic year, when the dreaded "freshers' flu" makes its way around town courtesy of the students coming to university.  (On that note, this is a great recipe for students to have, as there's little worse than feeling sick and stuffy with an essay deadline creeping up.)

That said, this is also great to have even if you're feeling absolutely fine.  It's really quite tasty, full of antioxidants, and I can't find any reports of it being harmful in any reasonable quantity.  (I'm using "reasonable quantity" with my tea-drinking habits in mind, so in other words quite a bit.)  Do be careful though if you're on any other medications or supplements, as it can interact with some.

Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment

Picture of Ingredients and Equipment

As far as ingredients go, basically all you need is ginger root and boiling water, but there are plenty of ways to put your own twist on the recipe.  Feel free to add honey or sugar to sweeten, lemon to give it a nice fresh taste, cinnamon stick or nutmeg for a bit of spice, etc.  You can even toss in a teabag if you just want to add some kick (and extra cold-fighting properties!) to your usual cuppa.

Something to boil water with - kettle, saucepan, microwave, etc.  I'll trust you to work those out.  (Hint: Don't put the saucepan in the microwave.)
Vegetable peeler - optional, but nice to have
Knife - technically optional if you're creative enough with the peeler

Step 2: Boil Water.

Picture of Boil Water.

Fairly simple.  Not much to explain here.  You do want the water at a rolling boil, not just hot, for the ginger to steep properly.

Step 3: Prepare the Ginger.

Picture of Prepare the Ginger.

First, you want to get yourself a chunk of fresh ginger.  I generally aim for something very roughly like a cube with inch-and-a-half sides, but this is largely dependent on how I'm feeling/what the lump of ginger in front of me looks like.  Play around with it; you'll eventually find the right amount for how spicy you like your tea.

Once you've got this chunk, the first thing you want to do is peel it.  This isn't really necessary, but if you leave the skin on you may get little papery bits floating around while you're trying to drink your tea.

Next chop up your bit of ginger.  It doesn't have to be precise, but you want plenty of surface area to steep and as much of the nice juices released as possble.  I find that cutting roughly perpendicular to the 'grain' (stringy bits) in the root works best.  If you want, you can use the peeler to cut the ginger into very thin slices (plus save yourself having to wash the knife!), which works very well, but be careful with your fingers!

Step 4: Dump Everything in the Mug.

Picture of Dump Everything in the Mug.

Again, pretty simple.  Drop your chunks of ginger in the mug, and pour the boiling/recently boiled water on top.  The hotter the water is, the more nice gingery-ness you will have in your tea.  If you're adding cinnamon stick, spices, actual tea, etc., add them to the mug when you put in the ginger.

Some of you may note that I'm adding the water to the ginger after it's boiled, rather than boiling the water with the ginger in it as some other recipes call for.  This is really just my preference; it saves a few minutes, since you can chop the ginger while the water is boiling, and it keeps the tea from getting excessively spicy/bitter.  (It also means you can use an electric kettle without having to clean it afterwards.)  While it's true that you don't extract quite as many of the active chemicals from the ginger this way, I find that you still get more than enough to soothe a sore throat or fend off a cold.

Step 5: Let Steep, and Enjoy!

Picture of Let Steep, and Enjoy!

Once you've added the water, let it sit for a few minutes, and you should get a lovely pale gold coloured, slightly cloudy tea.  At this point, you can strain out the bits of ginger if you like, but I generally prefer to leave them in.  (As long as you've peeled the ginger, everything should sit on the bottom of the mug, so you can drink it without too much trouble.)  Be aware though that it will continue to get stronger for quite a while as it sits with the bits of ginger, so if you take your time drinking, it will get very spicy!

If you're adding extras like sweeteners, lemon juice, etc., this is the time to add those.  If you find ginger to be particularly spicy as some people seem to, adding a bit of honey or sugar might be a good way to cut that without brewing a weaker tea and missing out on some of the nice, cold-fighting chemicals that some with the spice.

That's it; enjoy!


PanillaKeopi (author)2015-11-11

My mother-in-law makes her ginger tea with the leaves instead of the root, granted she grows ginger at home. I tried this out and although I sometime am not crazy about ginger root in my food, I really like ginger tea made out of the leaves.... it's more mild I think? But supposedly same benefits, I'm about to try some I made to see if it helps with some bad congestion today...

mrsmerwin (author)PanillaKeopi2017-04-12

Where can I get a ginger plant? What part of the world can you grow it outside?

DebraU2 (author)2017-02-10

It does not surprise me in the least that an MD would be clueless about this. Just like the ones that told my husband and I that psoriasis and eczema had nothing to do with diet. We went off wheat and dairy, and both of us noted about a 90 percent improvement in two months.

JoeS216 (author)2016-04-20

Hint... How to Use a Microwave... unplug and carry it to the curb... let scrappers take it... Microwaves kill all nutrition in all foods...

kentobin (author)JoeS2162017-02-10

You have some evidence here? You can kill nutrition in any food if you cook it incorrectly. I have to assume you've never eaten anything my mother has cooked and she's been around a lot longer than microwave ovens. :-)

Joedontno (author)JoeS2162016-04-23

Microwaves don't kill all nutrition..According to Harvard Health Publications, certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, will break down when exposed to heat, regardless of whether you cook using a microwave or through more conventional methods. However, because microwaves cook foods quicker, they may actually do a better job of preserving nutritional content that can be destroyed as a result of high heat exposure.

DebraU2 (author)Joedontno2016-05-11

My friend got his masters in Nuclear Medicine from Oregon State University and learned there that no one should ever eat anything even warmed up in a microwave. He said they aren't even allowed in many countries.

kentobin (author)DebraU22017-02-10

My father received his medical degree from the University of New York and has never read anything in any medical journal which states cooking with a microwave can create dangerous food.

XimenaG2 made it! (author)2016-05-02

I am not one who normally tries every recipe for all the super foods that have proclamations to be a cure all for everything, but this one caught my eye because actual medical tests found it has been proven to help with joint pain and inflammation, so thought I'd give it a try and it works and taste good. I did add some Chia seeds, honey, and lemon for an extra flavor kick. Hopefully that doesn't diminish the medicinal benefits.

Joedontno (author)2016-04-23

that is a myth . Microwaves don't kill all nutrition..According to Harvard Health Publications, certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, will break down when exposed to heat, regardless of whether you cook using a microwave or through more conventional methods. However, because microwaves cook foods quicker, they may actually do a better job of preserving nutritional content that can be destroyed as a result of high heat exposure.

wobbler (author)2013-11-13

I usually cheat by using dry ginger, but you could also use a cheese grater to get the ginger cut fine and less hassle. I like to add ginger to black coffee too.

fireontheriver (author)wobbler2013-11-13

I'll do that if I don't have any fresh ginger on hand, but I much prefer the taste of fresh ginger tea. Grating it's not a bad idea, and I've never thought of putting it in coffee. That sounds quite good.

Traditional advice is not to drink more than 2 cups of ginger tea a day unless you are using it as a treatment for a bad chest cold.

HaroldPenner (author)2015-06-01

Thanks I added a cinnamon stick. The tea was great.

pohyonghui (author)2015-03-15

Hi, how long will this keep in the refrigerator?

manicmonday (author)2015-03-11

Oh no!!! You forgot the most important step!!!

Drink it!!! :)

On a more serious note, I brew a small pot at a time (coffee press), so let it sit and steep quite a while as it's too hot to drink right away anyway. I drink it later once it's cooled a bit, but hopefully not too cool.

manicmonday (author)2015-03-11

If you don't peal it you can use a coffee press or tea ball to keep any bits out of your mouth. I don't peal mine. Too much trouble. Also, pealed ginger is hard to slice as it is a little slippery.

allison.beck1 (author)2014-11-15

I'm drinking my first cup of homemade ginger/clove/cinnamon/raw honey/lemon zest tea. My mouth is a bit on fire but it feels good. Hope it helps my headache.

That sounds great! I hope the headache feels better soon.

nanaverm (author)2013-11-12

Thanks for reminding us how healthful ginger is, and this is an easy way to consume it. As a hint, fresh ginger can be stored in the freezer, and it keeps well there.

allison.beck1 (author)nanaverm2014-11-15

Or the refrigerator. I've kept my organic ginger roots in there for weeks! Not bad at all. A little dried though, but you just cut off the dried edges and its perfectly fine. I am trying the tea for the 1st time tonight as I have a bad sinus headache. Added cinnamon sticks and clove. Will be adding this great raw honey I have and lemon zest. Should be good!

mlandry2 (author)2014-01-16

It didn't help me when I was feeling nausea...bu the again, it was frozen ginger root.

SeaWave (author)2013-12-17

Definitely helps with nausea -- ginger infusions got me through chemo!

andyforrest (author)2013-12-07

looks excellent!

abunda (author)2013-11-28

Today im gonna need one!

rpb (author)2013-11-13

Thanks for the instructable. I'll try this. I've made ginger beer in a similar way (but adding a teeny bit of yeast and sealing in an old fizzy drink bottle).

Do you know if, or how much of, the active organic compounds will get broken down by the boiling water? Any enzymes, etc., will get denatured at these high temperatures, but cold or body-temp water is unlikely to extract much flavour I presume.

Cat00x (author)rpb2013-11-13

How about sharing your ginger beer recipe? I found some nice commercial brands here in California, but it would be fun to make my own.

rpb (author)Cat00x2013-11-21

Hi treetopcoach.

I basically used this:

The last time I made it it was a bit insipid, but the fizz wasn't bad. I put a huge chunk of ginger in, sliced thinly with a potato peeler. The previous time I grated the ginger finely, and the flavour was probably better, but you had to sieve the resulting pop because it contained all those tiny bits of ginger. The bits floating in it also don't help the fizz - the bottle gets very hard to open first time because it froths right up, and once the frothing is done the drink can be quite flat.

Cat00x (author)rpb2013-11-25

Thanks so much for this. Looking forward to trying it, although I'll probably use a glass canning jar as I rarely have plastic bottles in the house. Maybe a glass bottle with a screw-on cap???

I made root beer once many years ago in a wine bottle and used wire to secure the cork--badly! The cork blew out and the bottle went flying into the water heater and made a huge dent in it!


fireontheriver (author)rpb2013-11-24

To be honest, I don't know too many details about the thermal stability of the different compounds. Most of what you're going for are actually oils and small molecules rather than enzymes, so denaturation isn't really a problem. Gingerol is converted to zingerone when cooked, but both seem to be fairly effective as antimicrobials, so it's possible that the mixture of both you'd get from brief heating (i.e. steeping in boiling water) might actually be more beneficial. Quite a few studies I've come across also used heated ginger extracts, so it doesn't seem to be much of a problem.

Great ginger beer recipe, I might have to give that a try!

HollyHarken (author)2013-11-16

Yum! I eat crystalized ginger when I have an upset stomach and it works great for nausea. I think I'll try microplaning a finger of ginger, skin and all, and then steep it in a pan with some cinnamon stick, then strain through a coffee filter and "bottle" it for use as needed.

Cat00x (author)2013-11-13

Thanks so much for sharing this. I love ginger tea, and keep forgetting about it! (I'm currently suffering from a cold.... time to go to the store and get some ginger!) I wonder if anyone here has considered growing their own?

fireontheriver (author)Cat00x2013-11-15

I've considered it, but never actually gotten around to it. Apparently it's as easy as burying a chunk of ginger in a bit of potting soil and watering it. Given how often the stuff sprouts just sitting in my cupboard, I can't imagine it's too difficult.

Ortzinator (author)2013-11-12

The edge of a spoon is pretty good at getting the skin off. And you don't lose as much of the "meat".

sadhbh (author)Ortzinator2013-11-14

yep, edge of spoon used in our house too. Also, I peel a big batch (especially if it's on special in the supermarket/looks nice and fresh) and chop it up in a mini-blender, and freeze it. Make the tea with lemon and honey, my OH loves taking a flask of it to work (he's outdoors)

Jayefuu (author)Ortzinator2013-11-13

I came here to say that too :) That and that I love ginger tea.

dulciquilt (author)2013-11-12

I started making ginger tea recently just because I love ginger, then read an article about health benefits of turmeric. I am not one who believes all the posts on super foods that will cure everything, so usually ignore them, but this one caught my eye. I read some actual medical tests and found it has been proven to help with joint pain and inflammation, so thought I'd give it a try. Unlike ginger, it tastes pretty awful on its own and really needs a fat added to help body absorb everything now I make a drink that reminds me of chai by using ginger and tumeric with milk and honey. Steep as you did here with just a little water, then add milk and honey to that. Adding cinnamon and nutmeg makes it all the better. Some use coconut oil instead of milk or use coconut or nut milk

That's a good idea. I've read about all the benefits of turmeric, but I couldn't bring myself to eat/drink huge amounts of it by itself. I'll have to give that a try.

The ginger helps cover up the dusty flavor of turmeric. Cinnamon and nutmeg are just extra bonus..clove would be good too. I'm curious to see if after drinkingnthis every day if I will be able to tell a difference in pain level in a couple weeks

nemalim (author)2013-11-13

Looks great! I especially like adding fresh slices of lemon, including the skin.

smacam (author)2013-11-13

GDBO :-)

fireontheriver (author)smacam2013-11-13

I was wondering if anyone would catch that : )

Nana2Peanut (author)2013-11-13

Lovely! Thank you for this!

AmyCat59 (author)2013-11-12

NomNomNom! :-)

(I never met a ginger I didn't like...)

mdeblasi1 (author)2013-11-12

Lately I've been grating the ginger with a micro-plain, and putting the resulting pulp in a tea sieve.

murderethic (author)2013-11-10

nicely done! This is something I drink year round, it's great iced. I also second not peeling the ginger. There is a ton of flavor and beneficial gingerols in the skin.

studleylee (author)murderethic2013-11-11

@Murderethic: Agreed 100%

studleylee (author)2013-11-11

This is sooooo good for an upset stomach, You'd think with the ginger 'zing' it would be too much, but its like a liquid ginger snap and soothes big time!!

elizabeth55 (author)2013-11-11

Very awesome

kc8hps (author)2013-11-10

I use 2 thin unpeeled slices. 1 tablespoon raw unfiltered honey. Save room for one shot of top shelf whiskey. This mix is a great sleep/ cold remedy. Enjoy with common sense.

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