Our first blend was the Turmeric Latte Blend, our version of Golden Milk or Haldi Doodh . This soothing elixir has been popularized in the last decade amongst Western culture for its healing properties. We want to pay homage to the origin, uses and traditional preparation of turmeric elixirs.
Let’s take a step back to understand this holistic root on a deeper level.
Turmeric was first used in Ayurvedic medicine about 4,500 years ago in India and scientists believe that South Asia was the original home of turmeric. The plant grows a flower as well as a stem underground known as the rhizome and is part of the ginger family. It’s happiest grown in tropical and subtropical climates, preferring rich, moist soil. Today, India cultivates 75% of the world’s production and it is considered to be some of the best in the world. China is second, producing 8%.
At the farm level, post-harvest steps include washing, boiling, curing and polishing the rhizomes. Rhizomes must be boiled and cured within 10 days of harvest to ensure the turmeric is fresh. After boiling, they are left in the sun (or dehydrator) to dry, also known as blanching, which increases the quality of the turmeric and keeps it safe from any insects or deterioration. This can take anywhere from 10-15 days. Once cured, the rhizomes are polished to make sure the saturated golden colour is there. By cutting and crushing the rhizomes and running them through a miller, the root is then ground into the familiar beautiful golden powder that most of us have in our spice cabinet today.
Turmeric boasts culinary applause as well as spiritual significance in India. Hindu communities view turmeric as sacred, applying the paste to the bride and groom’s face, neck, hands and feet during the pre-wedding ritual known as a Haldi Ceremony. It is believed to bless the couple-to-be, promote peace and prosperity, purify the soul and ward off evil spirits in their new life together.
Indians believe turmeric is restorative for almost any ailment. Applied directly to the skin for cuts, scrapes and bruises and ingesting it by drinking Haldi Doodh. In Hindi, haldi translates to turmeric and doodh means milk. Enter: the origin of golden milk.
Traditionally, Haldi Doodh was prepared at home by infusing milk with ground turmeric root and crushed long pepper over the stove at a simmer, not a boil. It is usually sipped in the evening before bed so the body has ample time to optimize its incredible benefits and restore itself. Although many Indians continue to brew Haldi Doodh by traditional methods, today cracked black pepper has replaced long pepper and powder has replaced the root. Black pepper contains piperine, a compound that promotes better absorption of curcumin in the body by up to 2,000%.
From India, historians believe turmeric likely spread to Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands. Jamu is a herbal elixir with a 1,200 year-old history dating back to ancient Java. Made from turmeric, ginger and other botanicals found in the tropical forests of Indonesia, it has a similar purpose to Haldi Doodh. Jamu has been used for hundreds of years to heal and maintain good health, consumed daily by many Indonesian people. When applied to the face, it is believed to provide everlasting beauty. Served both hot and cold, recipes vary region to region and are handed down through generations. It is most often prepared by women who sell it on the streets, although it is practiced by Shamans as well. Normally a golden drinking liquid, Jamu can also come in the form of powder and pills and is widely available in cafes across the country.
North America has become one of the largest importers and consumers of this magical golden spice in recent years because of its incredible health properties. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric known to have anti-inflammatory benefits as well as being full of antioxidants. As health and wellness journeys continue to grow in Western Culture, so does the consumption of turmeric. Beyond fighting inflammation, turmeric aids digestion, boosts respiratory health and can even help with skin conditions such as eczema because of its antimicrobial properties. In 2017, turmeric was the 5th top selling mainstream herbal supplement in the US. From functional beverages to supplements, turmeric is the ultimate superfood.
Next time you want to sip on Blume’s Turmeric Blend, try brewing your health tonic the traditional way and take a moment to appreciate the origin of these ancient anti-inflammatory elixirs and all they offer your wellbeing.