Ginger tea is a combination of ginger root and boiling water. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries and is known for its potential health benefits like quelling nausea and reducing inflammation.
What Is Ginger Tea?
Despite its name, ginger tea isn’t technically a tea, since it contains no tea leaves. Rather, it’s made by steeping a piece of fresh ginger in boiling water. It sometimes goes by the names shōgayu, saenggang-cha, teh halia, teh jahe, or salabat.
Ginger tea has a long history in various parts of Asia, where it has been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Some historians believe ginger tea was created as early as the Tang dynasty in seventh century China, when ginger was added to tea as a flavor enhancer. Since then, it has been used as a treatment for nausea, high blood pressure, pain, inflammation, weight management, and more.
You can purchase ginger-flavored tea bags or prepared teas at the supermarket or health food store. However, these are made with flavored tea leaves, rather than ginger alone.
How to Prepare
Making ginger tea doesn’t take a lot of time, effort, or ingredients. All you’ll need is a bit of fresh ginger and boiling water. To prepare, start with a chunk of fresh ginger. (A 1-inch piece is large enough.) Wash and peel the ginger, slice it into a few pieces, and place the slices in the bottom of a heat-resistant mug. Next, pour boiling water over the ginger and steep for up to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. Strain out the ginger slices, add honey or lemon juice if desired, and serve.
Easy Ginger Tea
Makes 1 serving
- 1-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and sliced into pieces
- 1 cup boiling water
- Honey or lemon juice (optional)
- Put the ginger root piece directly in a mug.
- Add the boiling water and steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add honey or lemon juice to taste, if desired.
This basic ginger tea recipe is a jumping-off point for all sorts of other flavor variations. You can try steeping a piece of peeled turmeric along with your ginger, or flavor your tea with maple syrup, lime juice, or black pepper. If the taste is too strong, you can always add more hot water to dilute it.
Because it contains only ginger and hot water, ginger tea contains no caffeine. However, if you make ginger tea using a pre-made tea bag, be sure to check labels. Certain types of tea leaves, like black or green, will add caffeine.
Although ginger tea has been around for centuries, not all of its purported benefits have been proven by science. Here’s what the evidence says about ginger tea’s health effects.
Of all ginger’s potential benefits, nausea relief is probably its most well-known. Many people reach for ginger chews, ginger ale, or ginger tea during a bout of stomach flu or motion sickness. Fortunately, the hype is real! Current research supports the use of ginger for a queasy stomach.
A 2016 study, for example, concluded that, for nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy, pregnancy, and motion sickness, ginger was a safe, effective, and inexpensive treatment. (However, a similar study emphasized that, though ginger was effective for morning sickness, its clinical value and safety profile were unknown.) Another review from 2019 found that ginger improved nausea, vomiting, and fatigue in chemotherapy patients.
Can you drink your wrinkles away? Perhaps not, but ginger tea might make a dent in the aging process. A 2019 review surveyed the relationship between ginger and aging and degenerative diseases. Researchers concluded that the antioxidant compounds in ginger could reduce inflammation that leads to certain degenerative conditions. However, more research is needed to determine the extent to which ginger could reduce signs of aging and age-related conditions.
A cup of something warm and soothing can always help lower stress levels—and ginger tea may go above and beyond by actually decreasing your blood pressure. A large study from 2017 found that people who drank ginger tea daily had reduced risk of hypertension and coronary heart disease.
Inflammation and pain go hand in hand—so it’s not surprising that ginger, with its anti-inflammatory properties, could help relieve physical pain. Research shows that ginger could help reduce pain after intense exercise, for example.
Chronic pain could also find a friend in ginger. Studies have indicated that supplementing with ginger could improve inflammatory joint conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Still, more research is needed to definitively prove its effects.
Because of its antioxidant properties, ginger could also play a role in supporting the immune system. Additionally, with its antiviral and antibacterial properties, ginger could fight pathogens, reducing your chances of getting sick in the first place.
Ginger tea is unlikely to cause side effects in most people, but it’s possible to experience some problems from drinking too much of it. Although there’s no set amount of ginger or ginger tea that’s considered too much, some studies have recommended an upper limit of 1,000 mg of ginger per day to soothe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. (For reference, that’s about 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger or 4 cups of tea.)
The following are some possible side effects of over-consuming ginger tea.
- Stomach upset: Though ginger tea can be helpful for stomach ailments like nausea, for some people, drinking it in excess can cause indigestion, diarrhea, or loose stools.
- Heartburn: Some research has reported that ginger tea could cause heartburn for people who are sensitive to it. According to a 2020 review, 16 studies showed that people who consumed between 500 and 2,000 mg of ginger per day experienced heartburn. If you have acid reflux, you may need to keep your intake of ginger tea to a minimum.
- Slowed blood clotting: Ginger’s potential for slowing blood clotting has its downsides. People who are approaching surgery, have bleeding disorders, or are taking anticoagulant medications like warfarin or aspirin should avoid drinking too much ginger tea.
Additionally, some research has indicated that pregnant women with a history of miscarriage, vaginal bleeding, or clotting disorders should be careful about drinking ginger tea. Talk to your doctor about the safety of this beverage during your pregnancy.