I am a beverage junkie. I typically have at least two going at once, a water bottle in my car that constantly needs refilling, and a mostly empty tea cup next to my nightstand.
I’m always looking for a compelling drink—and if it can feed me on a deeper level, so much the better.
Case in point: I used to drink coffee, but many moons ago after my twins were born, I could not really drink it anymore. My stomach decided it was just NOT down with that level of acidity and despite the fact that I love the smell of it and sometimes still have decaf (and then usually regret it), I mostly switched to tea and more therapeutic beverages.
That’s where Golden Milk comes in.
What Is Golden Milk?
Golden Milk is a warm beverage that nourishes and balances you, which is especially nice during the winter months for those of us living in colder climates. Its roots are in Ayurveda, India’s ancient holistic healing system.
Golden Milk is a combination of sweet, bitter, astringent, pungent, and spicy flavors. Also sometimes called Turmeric Latte or Turmeric Milk, it typically contains turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and cinnamon mixed with whole cow’s milk and sweetened with honey. Some versions add ground cardamom and/or ghee (clarified butter).
In Ayurveda, golden milk (or haldi doodh) is a tonic often consumed before bed—warm milk can make you sleepy. But you can drink it any time of day and I personally like it as an alternative to coffee.
It happens to be good for you, too; turmeric is known to help support the body’s various systems (digestive, circulatory, respiratory). Some of us who like it are also known to drink it when we feel under the weather, as turmeric and ginger are loaded with antioxidants.
And as for the black pepper, it’s not unusual to encounter black pepper and turmeric together (in curry powder, for instance). These ingredients have a history of being nutritionally symbiotic—it's believed the compounds in black pepper help with the absorption of the compounds in turmeric.
- For more information on golden milk, see this site here, or for Ayurveda, see what Deepak Chopra has to say.
My Favorite Way to Make Golden Milk
My riff on golden milk goes like this. I use coconut milk instead of the traditional cow’s milk because I don’t drink cow’s milk. I also happen to love the way coconut milk creates a really rich, thick beverage, and the way coconut plays with the other flavors. It’s a natural pairing, and not uncommon. But you can certainly use any kind of milk you have, dairy or otherwise.
I also like to use maple syrup instead of honey. For me, I feel like honey gets lost among some of the more assertive flavors, and I like the way maple syrup plays with everything else in the drink. But that’s just strictly personal preference.
You could certainly use the traditional honey if that’s what you have or prefer. Ayurvedic principles recommend adding it after you heat the drink because heating honey reduces its beneficial properties.
I’ve also tried Golden Milk with coconut sugar (use about 2 teaspoons). Finally, you could use date sugar—dates are what’s called sattvic in Ayurveda, bringing balance and harmony to the mind and body—but it’s expensive and not always easy to find.
What Is Turmeric?
This root is in the same family as ginger and shares some of its pungency, but not its spicy heat, per se. It’s what typically gives curry powder mixes its telltale bright yellow hue (but again, not its heat!).
As is often the case with foods that are brightly colored and found in nature, turmeric is loaded with antioxidants, making it a great ingredient for a warming, nourishing beverage like this one. Antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties, and avoiding or reducing prolonged inflammation in the body is generally thought to be good for our health.
Ground or Fresh Turmeric
The recipe calls for ground turmeric because it distributes well in liquid, and it’s also more widely available than turmeric root.
However, if you find fresh turmeric, I see no reason why you can’t grate some into the drink just as you would the ginger. You might want to strain the finished beverage before drinking it if you don’t like the prospect of swallowing little flecks of grated turmeric.
How to Serve Golden Milk
Golden Milk is typically served warm, which is how I also prefer to drink it. I usually warm it gently over low heat. If you are new to the flavor of turmeric, boiling the milk (the traditional way to prepare it in Ayurveda) reduces the bitterness in the turmeric.
However, there’s nothing stopping you from drinking this cold from the fridge! I’d just make sure you stir or shake it up in order to reintegrate the coconut milk since sometimes the fat separates from the rest of the liquid.
I don’t do this, but if the little stray fibers from grated ginger bother you, strain off the milk through a fine mesh sieve before you drink it.
How to Store Golden Milk
I store anything I don’t drink immediately in a covered glass jar or container and refrigerate it.
I have noticed that Golden Milk tends to become more pungent after it sits for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. But it really is best consumed right away—it kind of makes you slow down to both make it and enjoy it.
Try These Other Warming Drinks!
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can full fat coconut milk
- 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger, to taste (from a 2-inch size knob)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch fine sea salt
- Pinch ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- Cinnamon sticks and/or ground cinnamon or turmeric, to serve (optional)
Heat the coconut milk
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the coconut milk until you see a little bit of steam, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the spices
Add the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, sea salt, and black pepper, and gently whisk to combine. Add the vanilla extract, and whisk to combine. Take the milk off the heat, allow it to cool slightly, and add the maple syrup.
Taste the milk using a spoon, and adjust as needed. Does it need more spice? Add some ginger. Is it not sweet enough to your liking? Add a little more maple syrup. Do the flavors seem like they aren’t speaking loudly enough to you overall? Add another pinch of salt.
Let the golden milk come to a bare simmer—you might see some bubbles on the sides of the pot, you might see some frothy action on the surface—and then turn off the heat.
This step helps reintegrate the flavors after you’ve added the maple syrup and made any adjustment with spices. It also ensures you’ve got a hot beverage, not a lukewarm one.
Strain and serve
Strain off any lingering fibrous bits of ginger through a fine mesh sieve. Pour it into your favorite mug, sprinkle it with a bit more of ground turmeric and/or cinnamon, and get cozy on the couch with a blanket and your mug.