Golden milk is like a comfort blanket for your taste buds, perfect for unwinding after a long day or curling up with a good book.
Folks in India have been sipping on this fragrant, soothing beverage for hundreds of years. It’s a blend of milk (or dairy-free alternative, like almond or coconut milk), turmeric (that’s the golden part which contains an active compound called curcumin that’s known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties), and a dash of black pepper (to help you absorb the curcumin). To make it even more exciting, throw in some cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, star anise, and any other gingerbread-type spices you love. A smidgen of maple syrup or honey can join the party, but they’re optional.
Traditionally, golden milk is made by combining milk with turmeric and other spices and simmering it in a small saucepan. Since I don’t often have the time to do this, though (esp. and the end of a long day), I prefer to cook up a quart of spice & tea concentrate that I keep in the fridge and mix with milk whenever I’m in the mood for a hug in a mug.
For added antioxidant punch I include tea in this recipe (making it a bit chai-adjacent). This makes it an invigorating and stimulating morning treat. In the afternoon – made with decaffeinated tea – it’s wonderfully soothing and comforting. Indian chai is usually made with black tea, but green or white tea works too; not only are they milder, they also contain a higher concentration of health-protective polyphenols.
Meanwhile, chai spices aren’t just delicious flavorings; they’re also packed with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal plant compounds. The spice mix used here is my favorite but you can add other spices such as saffron, coriander, vanilla, fennel, mace, star anise, and even fresh lemongrass.
I make this in a pressure cooker for two reasons: one, because it’s so quick, and two, because pressure cooking extracts more flavor (and, I suspect, bioactive compounds) from the spices than stove-top cooking. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, place the spices and water in a regular pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring to a boil, and then simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes or so; then add tea bags, as described below.
As with all my recipes, feel free to adjust this to your liking — and then please let me know what you did so I can try it myself. 🙂
Caveat: If you have a history of kidney stones or other oxalate-related symptoms, adjust this recipe to lower its oxalate content (turmeric, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper contain relatively high levels of oxalate); you might want to amp up the other spices, like cardamom, mace, and ginger.Spice extracts or drops may also contain less oxalate than whole or ground spices; I’moon. currently investigating this and will post updates here soon.
Golden Milk Concentrate
- Pressure cooker optional but helpful
- 3 oz fresh ginger root coarsely chopped
- 1 oz fresh turmeric root coarsely chopped
- 10 black peppercorns
- 10 cardamom pods
- 10 allspice berries
- ½ tsp nutmeg ground
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 teabags your choice; I use organic green tea (Trader Joe's is my favorite brand), but occasionally I’ll just throw in any teabags I find in my tea box, incl. rooibos, black tea, Earl Grey, white tea, or herbal tea. Loose tea works, too – 1 tsp = equivalent to 1 teabag.
- 4 cups filtered water
- Place all the ingredients except for the cinnamon sticks and teabags in a small electric chopper/food processor. Pulse for 20-30 seconds until everything is coarsely chopped.
- Place the chopped spices and the cinnamon sticks in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Add filtered water. Lock the lid and cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 10 minutes.
- Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure manually (by shifting the pressure valve to VENTING) and remove the lid. Turn off the pot (including the warming function).
- Let the concentrate cool for 2-3 minutes, then add tea bags or loose tea, whichever you're using. Let steep for 10 minutes.
- Line a sieve or strainer with cheesecloth and set over a medium bowl, ideally one that has a pouring spout. Alternatively, place a cotton nut milk bag (here's the kind I use) in a large bowl or jug.
- Slowly pour the spicy liquid through the sieve/bag and strain. Once it’s cool to the touch, use your hands or kitchen tongs to wring any remaining liquid out of the spices in the cheesecloth/cotton bag.
- Pour the concentrate into a clean, sterilized glass bottle or mason jar, let cool, and refrigerate.
- To serve, pour ½ cup of the concentrate into a glass or mug and add ½ to 1 cup of milk of your choice. In hot weather, add ice cubes if desired. In cold weather, I warm this mixture up in the microwave or a small saucepan over low heat. If desired, sweeten with a smidgen (about 1 tsp per cup) of maple syrup or honey.