Golden milk tea: a feel-good, anti-inflammatory cure-all

This golden milk tea is near and dear to my heart. Several loved ones who have had injuries, winter chills, stomach bugs, cancer diagnoses, or simply wanted to cut back on drinking alcohol in the evening have begun enjoying the benefits of this comforting tea. The vibrant brew tastes like a fragrant, full-flavored chai without the black tea.

I normally make a double batch of this recipe each week, and bring a thermos of the hot tea with a few spoonfuls of chia seeds each day to work at the hospital. I find the golden milk tea and chia seed combination helps curb my appetite, as it’s pretty frequent that a trauma patient or complicated surgery case delays my lunch for hours.

Although I tried to squash it, an uncharacteristically nerdy impulse inspired me to include some of the amazing research that has been done on turmeric and its primary active compound, curcumin. Ginger, in its own right, has many of these same immune and digestive benefits. As a biochemistry grad and M.D. in training, I value the nutritional quality and health benefits of my food, but I usually separate that part of my brain from this recipe journal. Usually.

Curcumin (basically, pure turmeric) has been found to improve general inflammation, upset stomach, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hemorrhoids, gastric ulcers, colon cancer, breast cancer, atherosclerosis, liver disease, arthritis, Alzheimer Disease, dementia and traumatic brain injury/concussion. These far-reaching health benefits are attributed to the primary pharmacological activities of curcumin:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • antimutagenic (DNA protective, in short; sometimes termed anticancerous)
  • antidiabetic (lowers blood sugar–and blood cholesterol, too!)
  • antibacterial
  • expectorant (loosens mucus)

[Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

All health benefits aside, this turmeric tea is fragrant, soothing and easy to make. It’s a healthy alternative to a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or an evening glass of wine. **TIP: Fresh ginger and turmeric root can be expensive at your grocery store. Your local asian market will likely have them at a fifth of the price, so stock up and freeze the roots. Alternatively, you can substitute dried powder, but the flavor won’t be as vibrant.

Golden Milk Tea (Turmeric Tea)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy and life-changing
  • Print

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 ½ can of water
  • 1½ tbsp finely grated turmeric 
  • 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • large pinch of black pepper
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon*
  • Seeds from 5 green cardamom pods, or 1/4 tsp ground cardamom*
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla*
  • dash of salt*
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper*

  1. Combine all ingredients with a whisk in a small pot and heat on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until color deepens and the tea is steaming. Do not boil, to maintain maximum health benefits. (For a smoother tea, blend together or pour through a coarse sieve before serving.)
  2. Sweeten to taste; 1 tbsp honey will do the trick. Enjoy a cup and refrigerate the rest for tomorrow!

*The second half of the ingredients are what I prefer to add; adjust to your preference. Bay leaf has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory potential; I’m working on a version including bay leaf to share soon! The bolded ingredients comprise the traditional turmeric golden milk tea. 



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