My boys love ginger honey tea. They make it frequently in the evening to drink while snuggling under a blanket watching a movie. They do not have to be sick. I think this fermented variety will also be a hit with them. Read on and see if you don’t agree.
They say that fermentation was discovered by humans thousands of years ago, entirely by accident. That’s because fermentation happens, naturally, and it’s hard to prevent the natural fermentation process unless you’re adding modern stabilizers or preservatives. Anything that has nutritional value for humans also has the ability to support yeasts, lactic acid bacteria or a host of other natural, beneficial probiotic bacteria.
A Little History
Before the advent of refrigeration, it’s likely that just about any leftover containing sugar and sufficient water began to ferment before it was fully consumed, as is often the case for raw cider, even when kept in the fridge.
With this in mind, many of us are likely to create an accidental ferment at some point in our lifetimes, through inattention, and that’s just how fermented ginger honey tea was discovered. Luckily, it’s delicious, effervescent and probiotic!
Plain ‘Ol Ginger Honey Tea
When my family is sick, we brew up a large pot of fresh ginger lemon tea, using hunks of whole fresh ginger combined with fresh lemon juice. The ginger takes a long time to extract, but it can be extracted many times. We start with a large ginger root, roughly the size of your hand, and chop it into small pieces. Place that, along with the juice of a whole lemon (two if you like it tart), into a pot with 3-4 cups of water on the stove. Simmer for about 30 minutes, strain and add honey to your cup to make a simple, un-fermented ginger lemon tea with honey. It will help perk up your spirits and immune system while you’re sick.
To make your second batch, put the ginger back into the pot with more lemon and water and extract again. Usually we’re able to use the same ginger over the course of days, just re-extracting it 8-10 times over 3-4 days.
How it Happened for Us
The ferment was discovered when my husband was home alone and quite sick. He decided to alter the recipe slightly, for efficiency, by making a large pot with several gallons of water, and putting the honey right into the pot with the ginger, so he could come back a dozen times in a day to refill his cup. (You can tell he really loves the stuff!)
At the end of the day there was still a quart left that had been cool but open to the air for hours, and we needed the stove space to cook dinner. He poured the honey ginger tea off into a Mason jar, capped it and shoved it to the side to be forgotten for a few days.
Two or three days later it was my turn to be sick, and I saw the jar and decided it was time to warm up a batch of ginger tea. When I opened the jar, it gave that familiar fermentation pop and fizzed off, letting me know he’d been “efficient” and already added the honey.
In my hand I had a very lightly fermented quick mead, that was still perfectly acceptable as a tasty tea, but now the nutrients and enzymes in the ginger had been made more digestible with probiotics. Careful not to overheat the “tea” to the point of boiling, I gently warmed it on the stove to preserve the probiotics. The result was a warm and fizzy version of our old favorite sick time tea. The extra fizz had the added benefit of helping to calm the stomach in the same way as a carbonated seltzer.
How to Make Fermented Ginger Honey Tea
To make your own carbonated tea, combine a large ginger root, the juice of a lemon and about a quart of water in a saucepan and simmer 30 minutes. Pour into a Mason jar, leaving the ginger in for now, and add enough honey to make a sweet honey flavored tea. For me, that’s about 2 tablespoons, but my husband prefers 3-4, so experiment with your own tastes. Leave open on the counter for 24 hours, then cap for 24-48 hours to build up carbonation before gently warming on the stove and consuming. Enjoy!
I don’t know about you, but I think this sounds delicious. You might also find some of the other fermented beverages on this site just as satisfying. Try kombucha, dandelion mead, or tepache for a change of pace. And don’t forget, once you get that fermenting bug, the 12-pack is great for when you want to have many flavors of drinks going at once.