My version of Teh Halia – a Malay chai-type drink literally meaning ‘ginger tea’ – contains turmeric, traditionally used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and mild anaesthetic to help soothe sore, stiff, arthritic joints and other inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and Crohn’s disease. The ginger (best used fresh) and black pepper both help the body absorb the curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. This makes enough for one frothy, golden cup of Teh.
3 sticks fresh turmeric or 4g dried thumb-sized piece fresh ginger root
few pinches black pepper
250ml whole milk
1 tsp black tea leaves
palm sugar, to taste (or maple syrup or brown sugar)
1 Peel and chop the fresh turmeric, if using (being careful not to stain surfaces or hands). Peel and grate the ginger. Put into a mortar (with the dried turmeric, if using) and add a few pinches of black pepper, then pound with the pestle until you get a smooth paste.
2 Combine the paste with the milk, water and tea leaves in a pan and simmer on a low heat for 10–20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain. Sweeten with palm sugar to taste, and stir.
3 Before drinking, pour the Teh between two containers, holding them the maximum width apart to aerate the tea as much as possible and produce a froth on top. Despite not having too much of a medicinal effect on the remedy, this is more than just a flamboyant whim. Aerating the mix improves its flavour by making it easier for your tongue to perceive the chemicals that give the drink its unique taste.
USE Make the Teh up as you need it, and drink at once. Take daily to help with arthritis, aches and pains in the joints, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory conditions.
STORAGE The paste keeps for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.
Quick-Fix Teh Halia
This is an instant, dried version that’s much easier to use on a daily basis than making up fresh. This recipe gives you 2 weeks’ worth of dried teh. Just pop it into an airtight tin, and you can take it with you to make up and drink wherever you are.
112g dried turmeric
28g dried ginger
½ tsp black pepper
25g black tea leaves
140g brown granulated sugar
Stir together, then store in a dry, airtight tin. Makes 14 cups - or one a day. To make up into a Teh, place 5–6 teaspoons of the mixture in a pan with 250ml whole milk and 250ml water, then simmer over a low heat for 10–20 minutes, or until reduced by half. Strain and serve. The mixture will keep in an airtight tin for 2 weeks.