As of this writing, there are a number of people sneezing and coughing around me. It's winter, folks, and it's not going anywhere for at least a few more months.
During these cold, dark days when you immediately jump into loungewear and huddle under the blankets the minute you get home (just me?), here's a soothing elixir to keep you warmer than your trusty worn-in sweatshirt. The best part? It's only two ingredients, and you likely already have them (if not, they're super easy to pick up on your way home from work today).
Korean honey ginger tea, or saenggangcha, is a relic from my childhood. A glass jar of saenggangcha (much like this one) always had a spot in the fridge door, usually alongside a jar of Korean citron tea, or yujacha, which greatly resembles orange marmalade. Both caffeine-free "teas" were called upon for year-round duty: whisked into hot water during the winter, and enjoyed as a cold beverage over ice during the sultry summer days.
When I started living on my own, I didn't always keep these jars in the fridge; instead, I'd fashion simple DIY home remedies. I'd steep coins of ginger in hot water before stirring in a heaping spoonful of honey to recreate a quick saenggangcha. (Unfortunately, yuja, also known as Japanese yuzu, are not readily available here stateside to make yujacha on the fly.) I realized, though, that this quicker approach didn't quite yield the same deep, comforting qualities that saenggangcha provided, so I set off to find a better homemade solution. I didn't have to go far before finding that my beloved Korean YouTuber, Maangchi, already had a version, upon which I'd tweak to my own tastes.
In her recipe, Maangchi calls for equal parts pureed ginger and honey, which she mixes and stores in the fridge, or decants into adorably cute jars for the perfect wellness gifts. She tops her drinks with pine nuts for garnish, a truly traditional Korean touch. I prefer my saenggangcha less sweet, so I usually dial down the honey in my ratio and occasionally add a dash of ground cinnamon for added oomph. A big squeeze of lemon immediately brings on sunshine-y feelings.
I'm also not as exacting and usually let the ginger root take the lead: After I choose a fresh knob (avoid the ones that are too wrinkly!), I scrape off the skin, and hand-grate it on a Japanese grater, like this one (you can also just take it for a spin in the food processor). I then add the ground ginger, juice and all, into a small jar with a few heaping tablespoons of runny honey. The amount varies depending on the freshness (heat) of the ginger, and the sweetness of your honey. Store in the fridge and stir in a spoonful into your hot water anytime you feel a tickle in your throat, or can sense something bigger coming on.
(By the way, it's great on a piece of thickly slathered buttered toast or a warm dinner roll—another delicious reason to try it!)
Do you have a favorite homemade elixir? Let us know below!