I love ginger. I seek it out everywhere I go. I am constantly thinking of ways to sneak it into practically everything I make. I’m that guy at the sushi place that will eat the sliced ginger as if I hadn’t eaten for months. If you’re sitting with me and you don’t eat your ginger, I will awkwardly pretend to be a master of the chopsticks and non-discreetly plop them onto my plate and then quickly shovel the ginger into my mouth. Not one ounce of guilt will be shed.
Quite naturally, you would then think I’d have a big ol’ stash of ginger tea at home. You would be correct, but only if ginger tea didn’t taste so fake and horrible. It’s not that I hate dried ginger, there’s always a time and a place for it. Like Ginger Molasses Cookies or Gingerbread or a pie. But when you’re looking for the soothing taste of sharp ginger, dried ginger just ends up tasting fake and dry and isn’t satisfying. When you think about it, like REALLY think about it, it’s not all that surprising. Most dried herbs taste very different from their fresh counterparts. Most of the time, if you’re swapping out dried for fresh or fresh for dried, you won’t use the same amount. Drying out an herb takes away the oils, the moisture and the freshness. But it also intensifies the flavor of it all. Think of it like reducing a sauce.
What first started out as something I used as a remedy for whenever I had an upset stomach has blossomed into a daily ritual that is constantly evolving, but is always satisfying. To call it tea would, technically, be a lie because this soothing beverage doesn’t involve any actual tea leaves. So this is really a Ginger Tisane. It’s a pretty word. I think people should start naming their kids Tisane. It has a nice ring to it. Tisane refers to drinks or tea-like drinks that don’t actually include any tea. All herbal teas are tisanes because they don’t contain any tea leaves. But like most words in the English language, we have come to bastardize it and make words that once meant one thing, mean something completely different. But in the end, does what this drink is called even really matter? No. It’s just words. And it’s just a drink. So call it what you want. I won’t judge.
So how does one go about making their own ginger tisane or tea? In the bare bones form, you just need to combine two ingredients. Take some slices of fresh ginger and pour over some boiling water. Let it steep for a bit and just like that, you’ve got a hot, relaxing mug of homemade ginger tea. Remember when I said how this little elixir had evolved into something more? Well, slowly I started added other ingredients in with the ginger. First it was some honey. Then came some vibrant yellow slices of lemon. Next up, sprigs of fresh green spearmint found their way into the club. Somedays I don’t even use ginger (shocking, I know). I love to steep some fresh basil & grapefruit for a tart and sweet drink that feels healthy (and actually kind of is).
I don’t like to pile up too many dishes in the sink, so I usually just make myself a mug and keep filling it up. I even just leave it all in the mug and don’t worry about steeping times. But if you’ve got a french press, you’ve got another great use for it now. Just fill it up with everything you want to steep, pour over the “Caution Hot!” water, pop the top on and let it steep. (As a general rule, five minutes is usually a good time for steeping ingredients.) And then, you’ve got yourself a few cups waiting for you or enough for a crowd.
The possibilities for making your own tisane are practically endless. Choose fresh things you like. Get inspired by the tea aisle in the market. Read the ingredients of your favorite teas and then go off and find them in the store. Herbs are always a great addition. Experiment and have fun. You should even feel free to raid your spice drawer and throw in cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves and more into the mix (a perfect way to warm up in the winter months). If there’s a spice store near you, check it out and see what they’ve got. You can buy a lot of dried herbs and spices in bulk for cheap and then you will have a whole treasure chest of ingredients to make into tea at a moment’s notice.
Personally, I don’t see the need for a recipe for this. The only time you want one is if you find the perfect combination that makes your eyes widen, send a shiver down your spine and angels come out to sing. That’s when you’ve got to write down exactly how much of what you’ve added, how long you let it steep, what temperature the water was. In doing so, you will be able to recreate this positively enlightening moment every time. Otherwise, just throw stuff in and see where it takes you. In the end, what you add, how much you add, how long you steep, how many steeps, is completely up to you. It’s to your taste and to your liking. This is the benefit of making this all at home. It is your creation. I’m just the messenger.