Ginger Milk Tea: Delicious, but Time-Consuming
March 8, 2011 6:25 PM   Subscribe

Ginger Milk Tea is my new beverage obsession, but it's time-consuming to make. I'm thinking about making a large amount of ginger-infused water that I can keep in the fridge and reheat when I want some tea. Will this work, or is there an easier way to make this? (recipe I'm currently using inside)

About a month ago, I had the most delicious Ginger Milk Tea at a tea room and wanted to replicate it. I found this recipe, which is more or less what I've been using ever since.

The problem is that its really time consuming to peel and chop fresh ginger every time. To get the best ginger flavor, I like to let it cook in the water for a long time. The recipe just says to bring it to a boil, but it's more intense the longer it cooks away. By the time I add the tea and heat the milk, it seems like a half hour has passed.

What I'd like to do is make a really big "batch" of the ginger water, keep it in the fridge, and reheat as necessary. But I'm not sure of the water to ginger ratio. Should I keep the chopped ginger in the water while it's stored in the fridge for extra-extra ginger flavor, and then strain it when I'm ready to heat it up? How long would that keep in the fridge? Or is it better to just keep a bunch of peeled, chopped ginger on-hand to at least cut out that aspect of the preparations?

Or...does anyone have a faster, easier recipe for this or something similar? It is seriously delicious, especially if you enjoy chai.
posted by pourtant to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
You mention peeling and chopping the fresh ginger takes a long time - have you tried peeling it with a spoon? I find that much speedier than any other method. And would grating the ginger work? That also seems faster than chopping.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 6:37 PM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: I would make the suggestion of making a Ginger syrup with the sugar in the recipe. The syrup keeps in the ref rig for a decent amount of time, retains it's bite and can be used for other things like fruit salad or other drinks.

So you make a lovely black tea, Ginger syrup brew and add the milk. You are just adjusting the recipe and making one part more easily managed.
posted by jadepearl at 6:43 PM on March 8, 2011 [9 favorites]

For a total cheat, you could try using instant ginger tea, which is available in Asian grocery stores. There are many brands and they are all pretty similar, from what I've tried: little packets of ginger-flavored sugar, no actual tea involved. You could brew your black tea, stir in the ginger-sugar, and add milk. Guaranteed to not be as good as the fresh stuff, but maybe acceptable if you're in a desperate hurry.

Also, you don't have to peel the ginger. Scrub it well with soap and a stiff brush, then chop it. (Break the knobs apart before washing, so you can get the dirt that lodges in the "elbows".) A food processor works well, and you can chop a whole bunch and freeze it.
posted by Quietgal at 6:43 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could start with Gold Kili Ginger Drink. These are packets, with dried granules inside. It's pure ginger and honey (the sugar ingredient varies depending on where you are in the world), and you pour it into hot water or milk and stir, to make a hot drink. It doesn't have any tea in it, but I'd guess you could pour it into hot tea just as easily.
posted by Houstonian at 6:48 PM on March 8, 2011

Ginger Milk Tea == Chai tea, isn't it?

If so, you can easily get Chai tea mixes in the grocery store.
posted by jchaw at 6:52 PM on March 8, 2011

Just a tip to help with the speed aspect of fresh ginger; I buy a large piece of ginger root, clean it, scrape it with the back of a knife to basically "peel" it, then pop it in a ziplock and into the freezer. Then, whenever any recipe calls for fresh ginger, I grate off what I need with my microplane. That way you don't have fresh ginger sitting around going bad in your fridge before you have a chance to use it.
posted by purpletangerine at 6:52 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Ginger Milk Tea == Chai tea, isn't it?
Nope, Chai has spices like cardamom and cinnamon and pepper.
posted by purpletangerine at 6:55 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Good suggestions, all. I'm not sure there's any way I can get around peeling/chopping the ginger at some point. The flavor of the fresh (or frozen) ginger is really the key element. Chai mixes and ginger tea in teabags just doesn't give the same awesome flavor.

The syrup idea is very intriguing and wouldn't take up the fridge real estate of a huge jug of "ginger water"
posted by pourtant at 6:58 PM on March 8, 2011

Have you ever tried ginger puree from a jar? You can get it at the grocery store, usually in the produce section where they keep the jars of chopped garlic. Here's an example of one brand although that's not the brand I have used.
posted by cabingirl at 7:07 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ginger syrup lasts about one week in a sealed jar in the fridge, according to Martha Stewart.
posted by vitabellosi at 7:11 PM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: cabingirl - Yes, that did occur to me, I'm just afraid the ginger puree might not strain properly. Right now I'm pouring the ginger/tea mixture through a very fine tea infuser, and a thick puree might not be the best to pour through that. Definitely something to think about though...
posted by pourtant at 7:16 PM on March 8, 2011

I stopped peeling ginger. Now I just wash and scrub it with something abrasive, and then chop it with what's left of the skin intact. Personally I can't tell the difference between that and peeled chopped ginger.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:16 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Asian "instant" ginger tea that Quietgal and Houstonian both mention is a favorite of mine. The recipe is simple:
1 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp sugar
1 teacup hot water

I generally make it with one measuring cup (or so) of hot water, and after mixing, fill to the brim with milk... which is pretty close to your recipe.

Fresh ginger is more wonderful, to be sure, but this works for me.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:34 PM on March 8, 2011

Agree with qxntpqbbbqxl, no need to peel it. Just scrub and go. You don't need to chop it too finely, either, but if you find it time consuming, buy a cheap manual or electric food chopper and use that. Probably easiest to just wash ahead of time and grate it as you go.
posted by imposster at 7:42 PM on March 8, 2011

A friend gave me a bottle of Ginger Juice a few months ago, and I used it in all kinds of hot beverages. Does that sound like it could replace fresh ginger?
posted by OLechat at 7:43 PM on March 8, 2011

FWIW, I make a really simple ginger tea by cleaning (but not peeling) a small piece of ginger, chopping it into four or so pieces, and boiling it in water. Pour over a teaspoon of honey: a perfect sore throat concoction!
posted by bluedaisy at 7:48 PM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: pourtant, have you tried these instant ginger drinks being referred to? It's not ginger tea. Totally different. It's ginger crystals, such as this: Prince of Peace Ginger Honey Crystals

The ginger flavor is super strong in these things and it definitely retains the bite. I had a ginger tea bag once, just plain old ginger tea, not this crystallized stuff, and it was really disappointing and had very little flavor. The only ingredients in this are ginger and sugar. The stuff is cheap (much cheaper than this Amazon deal if you can find it in an Asian market) and it's worth a try if you've never had it before.
posted by wondermouse at 7:53 PM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: I make something similar. I like ginger. I really like ginger. This is what I do:

I buy a bunch of fresh ginger. At my fav little asian grocery store in L.A. it is about $1.30/lb for super fresh delicious ginger. I scrub and vaguely peel the ginger roots then JUICE it. I make a simple with a sweetener and the ginger juice, and stick it in the fridge. My 8 inch jars of ginger juice last at least two weeks, they've never hung around long enough in the fridge for me to check out its durability.

I do generally freeze the extra jars if I make more than one jar at a time.

Easy-peasy. The scrubbing, peeling, and juicing takes ten minutes total to process several pounds, then I can have instant gratification at whatever gingery-ness I prefer at the moment. Love it.
posted by arnicae at 8:01 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Why not try to find some crystallized ginger? It can give a lot of the same bite as fresh ginger, but it is pre-peeled, cut, and sweetened. Cut or tear it into small chunks and boil as normal. Adjust added sugar content to taste.
posted by that girl at 8:14 PM on March 8, 2011

I've been buying this stuff for my thai and indian cooking needs. It is pretty awesome I think. (I mainly just don't like keeping fresh produce around 'cause I don't use it up fast enough.)

I buy mine at Raley's but I've heard they have them at Trader Joe's as well.
posted by ZeroDivides at 8:34 PM on March 8, 2011

I came here to post what Bwithh said. There are two kinds of instant ginger sold in Asian grocery stores, a cheap sugary substance with no ginger taste, and a thick powder that's the REAL thing. Even though I live in Japan, I can only find the former so far, but one of my coworkers gave me a taste of the latter, and I would use that to make tea any day.
posted by shii at 9:56 PM on March 8, 2011

Sounds like the most of time is spent waiting as it is boiling? Consider that ginger is fairly inexpensive and you can simply use larger amount of ginger and shorten the boiling time. Storing steeped tea in a refrigerator will not be anywhere near the taste of freshly made version.
posted by rainy at 11:18 PM on March 8, 2011

I make this. I hate peeling and chopping those warty fibrous dinguses.

Here is what I do:

I put jarred ginger puree inside a teapot-size (two to three inch) mesh teaball and let the water come to it. You are correct that puree is too thick to pour through a filter, but it works in the ball. It's real ginger, not Instant Crystallized Pre-Neutered Soylent Gingeresque Niblets, and it keeps for ages in its little jar.
posted by Sallyfur at 3:29 AM on March 9, 2011

I keep ginger frozen - skin and all. Whenever I need some, I simply grate whatever I need. Frozen ginger grates very easily, skin and all. I can get a couple table spoons in seconds.
posted by DizzyLeaf at 6:35 AM on March 9, 2011

When I make ginger tea, I don't bother peeling the ginger root. Just wash, and grate it directly into the water using a cheese grater. Only takes about a teaspoon of the grated ginger to make a spicy cup of tea. Easy!
posted by statolith at 8:35 AM on March 9, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone. So many great ideas here. I might try a few different things.
Bwithh and shii, I frequent a Japanese grocery store on my block. Do you know how I can identify the "real stuff"?

This is great timing because I just had a medical procedure that made my throat super sore and ginger milk tea seems like just the thing!
posted by pourtant at 9:14 AM on March 9, 2011

I have never peeled the ginger before dicing and boiling- what does it gain you to peel it?
posted by Four Flavors at 11:18 AM on March 9, 2011

Response by poster: Four Flavors - In terms of the peeling, maybe this is totally silly, but I think that it increases the surface area of the ginger, in terms of what is infusing the water. I'm not all that careful about the peeling, but it just seems like the peel kind of covers up the goodness of the ginger.
posted by pourtant at 11:44 AM on March 9, 2011

Powdered ginger looks like the top photos here. Apologies if this is the one you tried and didn't like.
posted by shii at 4:37 PM on March 9, 2011

This dilemma, like most, is improved by the use of a pressure cooker. I use a few pounds of unpeeled but roughly chopped ginger in a gallon and a half of water give or take and let it pressure cook for a little under an hour. This is the rough equivalent of several hours of vigorous boiling. You can freeze the ginger concentrate and it keeps long enough - I go though it pretty fast.

Way better than instant.
posted by windowbr8r at 7:49 PM on January 18, 2012

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