With the arrival of the cold-and-cough season, you may be thinking about cooking up a big batch of chicken soup as a cure for what ails us. I love the stuff, too, but I suggest you stock up on some fresh ginger root instead. Ginger, of course, is one of the many flavors to be found in a stir-fry Asian dish or Indian curry. But used in larger quantities than specified for those recipes, it can become quite spicy. Of all the home remedies out there, I have found tea, prepared with fresh ginger, to be the most effective.
Ginger tea is easy to make (and is much cheaper than chicken soup). Essentially, there’s nothing to do but chop up some fresh ginger root, combine it with water and let it simmer. When you’re done, you’re looking at a potent, clean-out-your-sinuses beverage that’s ready to sip.
When making the tea, you might imagine that the first task would be to peel that gnarly ginger root. In fact, it’s not necessary. Just rinse it well and slice off any bruised spots, then chop it and pile all the chunks into a small saucepan. The more finely it’s chopped, the better — but half-inch chunks are good enough.
Cover the ginger root with 1 inch of cold water, then bring the tea to a boil. (Starting with cold water pulls out more of the ginger flavor than starting with hot water.) The longer you simmer it, the stronger it becomes. So take a sip after 15 minutes or so and, if you approve, strain out the liquid.
You can drink it straight up or embellished with honey and lemon — or even a pinch of cayenne.
If one potful of the tea doesn’t entirely vanquish your cold, you can return the chunks to the saucepan, add fresh water and repeat the process.