A good pot of ginger tea is one of life’s simplest (and healthiest!) pleasures.
Your ginger tea ritual might start by tearing open a little package and dropping a baggie of tea into a mug of boiling water, but I want to show you today how to make ginger tea from scratch—using fresh ginger to get the most flavor and the most health benefits.
You probably already know that ginger is one of the best all-around medicinal herbs you can add to your diet. Ginger has been in the arsenal of medicinal practitioners for millenia, but for those of you who want the black-and-white proof, science has also proven what folk medicine already knew—ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory that also is a strong immunity-booster, anti-microbial, and tummy tamer.
It also has the added benefits of being super tasty, easy to find, simple to prepare, and affordable. If you don’t have ginger in your life, you need to add it now!
I personally have a full pot of fresh ginger tea with honey every single day. This habit started when I was a few months into my Lyme treatment. My naturopath “prescribed” ginger tea to help boost my immunity and reduce system-wide inflammation, and I was shocked by how well it worked for me. If I skip my ginger tea for just a few days, I can feel my body starting to get sluggish.
Whenever I post my fresh ginger tea on Instagram, I inevitably get a question or two asking how I make my tea from scratch. Before we dig into the tutorial though, let me talk through the three different methods for making ginger tea.
Most of you are probably used to making tea from a tea bag. It’s convenient, it’s easy, and it’s accessible. When I’m traveling, I always throw a few bags of ginger tea in my carry-on for quick brewing (pro-tip, you can always ask for a cup of hot water on an airplane and brew your own tea).
That being said, brewing ginger tea from a bag won’t give you the most medicinal bang for your buck. First of all, the actual amount of the herb in each bag is tiny (tiny!). You also have no idea how old the ginger is or what elements it has been exposed to (both of which can affect the effectiveness). Also, in general, brewing medicinal herbs in a tea bag can really limit the amount of beneficial compounds that get released. Most herbalists agree that letting herbs “free steep” is the best way to extract the most medicinal qualities. I like to think of it as giving my herbs the biggest dance floor I can!
The next level up would be to purchase bulk dried ginger root and brew using a tea pot or tea ball. Just like with the tea bags, a tea ball will limit the ginger’s “dance floor,” but there are some nice large ones out there that make it so much better than the bag.
The benefit of using dried ginger is that you can control the quality and storage (I recommend keeping it in a cool, dark space), you can control how much you brew at one time, and, maybe the best of all, it is non-perishable. That being said, it’s almost a universal rule that a dried herb isn’t as potent as a fresh herb—so keep that in mind!
If you want to go this route, I recommend purchasing organic cut and sifted (often shortened to “C/S”) ginger root. I really like this one from Starwest Botanicals.
My favorite method—and the one we’re going to talk about today—is brewing from fresh or frozen ginger root. I buy my fresh ginger root from the produce section of my regular grocery store. I’d love to grow my own, but alas, unless Southern Indiana suddenly becomes tropical (or I get a greenhouse), that isn’t going to happen!
I buy my ginger root in bulk, and then freeze it. I just put the whole root in a large glass food storage container, and take it out as needed. There is no real need to truly defrost the ginger root—just put it out on the counter for about five minutes, and then you’ll be able to easily slice through it with a sharp knife.
Alright, so let’s dig into the actual tutorial here. I’m going to tell you to make a full pot of fresh ginger tea. In theory, you could scale this down to just a single cup, but I’m going to encourage you to make a full pot at a time.
To get a medicinal pot of tea, you’ll need to steep for quite a long while (I actually recommend overnight), so it just doesn’t make logistical sense to do it one single cup at a time. Plus, for medicinal benefits, you want to drink quite a bit in a day anyway. If you just like the taste and comfort of a cup of ginger tea, go ahead and go with the tea bag or tea ball method and make your single cup.
First up, set your water to boil. I do about a quart and a half of water in my tea pot each time. I recommend filtered water, and I recommend bringing it to a full rolling boil. We use (and absolutely love) this electric kettle. It is parked right next to our Berkey water filter in our kitchen for easy tea making.
While the water is boiling, slice the ginger. For every quart of water, I use about 1/2 cup of roughly chopped ginger—so closer to 3/4 cup of ginger for my full tea pot. This is a lot of ginger and makes for a very strong and spicy tea—you could obviously use more or less to taste, but I love me some strong ginger tea!
I don’t peel my ginger, but you can, if you’d like. Instead, I just slice it off the root thinly, then chop it roughly.
Fill the tea pot with the ginger, and pour the boiling water over. In these pictures, I’m using the RIKLIG teapot (the big size) from IKEA. It comes with an infuser in it, which I use sometimes, but more often than not, I let my ginger free steep, and then strain when it’s time to drink.
I love this tea pot, but honestly, I don’t use it for ginger tea very often (I just needed something see-through so I could show you my steps here). I usually use this large, insulated stainless steel French press for my ginger tea every day.
Why? Well, because once the tea is steeping, I let it steep for at least an hour. And the insulated stainless steel helps keep the tea warm a lot longer than the glass.
This whole “keeping tea warm” thing is usually moot though, because I prefer to actually let it steep overnight, and then just reheat in the morning. Since ginger is a tough root, it can really benefit from a long steep time to get all those beneficial compounds out into the tea. Plus, it tastes better! I’ve just gotten in the habit of making my pot of ginger tea right before bed each night.
And that’s it! If the tea is still warm, I then stir in some local raw honey to taste, strain (either using the plunger on the French press or a tea strainer), and enjoy!
If I need to reheat the tea, I just strain it into a saucepan on the stove and reheat on low heat until it is just warm enough to dissolve the honey. High heat kills a lot of the beneficial compounds in raw honey, so you don’t really want to be mixing it with tea that’s above about 110°F.
I tend to take my tea with me on the go by pouring it into this insulated stainless steel bottle. These bottles keep my tea SUPER HOT! I also have a (matching!) insulated travel mug that I pour my tea into for sipping in the car or at my office.