If we so much as squeaked during practice, our music teacher compelled us to drink a cup of ‘Salabat’ before any choir performance when we were in high school! Yes, the Filipino ginger tea, brewed slowly and with hints of citrusy calamansi, the Filipino lime was not just the cure-all for all colds, coughs, upset stomachs, nausea or other ailments. It was also good for our vocal chords, according to Sister Consuelo, our music teacher. If we sang badly during music practice, she reminded us to “go ask your mother to make you ‘salabat’” when we got home from school. Whether it was from the boost of a spicy hot drink, or the mellow effects of citrus combined with sugary sweetness, this was the drink that healed our spirits, and warmed our souls. The Salabat was and is a cure-all that never fails.
Recently, there was a high incidence of the flu and upper respiratory infections. I kept hearing about everyone being sick – from the east coast of the USA all the way to Manila. I received news of family and friends being ill. Even total strangers were coughing and sniffing left and right when I walked around. If I could only suggest to everyone I met to just go “boil a cup of Salabat” as Sister Consuelo suggested, then the world would be a better place.
It’s so easy to do. Just take a few slices of fresh ginger, pour water over it in a pot and boil. Let it steep a few minutes so the bold, spicy flavor can spike the brew. Add the lemon and sweeten it with brown sugar. In my case, it was a nice surprise to receive a box of goodies from my Honey Ridge Farms friends. Inside the gift box, was one of my favorite honey varieties – the Lemon Honey Crème. I knew this would be perfect for the cup of Salabat I had in mind. Since I live in the east coast, it is pricey (and a bit hard) to get my hands on fresh calamansi, the Filipino lime. So instead, I substitute with regular fresh lemons when I make salabat. In place of regular lemon and honey, I scooped a few spoonfuls from the wide jar of the Lemon Honey Crème, and mixed the thick, heavy honey into the warm ginger brew. When it comes to honey, I trust the HRF folks. Their artisan honey products are made in the most responsible manner by a process perfected from 5 generations of bee keeping.
So on this cold winter day, I sipped a cup of hot, steaming Salabat, the Filipino ginger tea. I let the bold, spicy flavor soothe my throat. I let it all settle in my system, inhaled the sweet-spicy gingery aromas from the steam in my cup. And I knew I felt better and refreshed already. Oh yes, I could belt out an aria easily after the Salabat kicked in. Thank you, Sister Consuelo for that lesson!
The Salabat is the traditional Filipino hot ginger tea, made from fresh ginger slices. This is known to be a cure all for sore throats, coughs, colds, upset stomachs or just about any ailment. The combination of a fresh ginger brew, honey and lemon have the most amazing curative effects when taken regularly. In Manila, I used to flavor my cup of Salabat with calamansi, the Filipino lime. While living in the States, I’ve sinced learned to substitute the citrusy flavor with lemon. But since my friends at Honey Ridge Farms sent me artisan honey products, I found the Lemon Honey Crème was perfect to add to freshly boiled ginger tea. This recipe was adapted from “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan and makes 2 large servings.
- fresh ginger - 1/2 cup, peeled, sliced in 1-inch matchsticks
- fresh lemon - 1 whole, washed, seeded, sliced
- fresh apple - 1/2 large, peeled, cored, seeded and sliced (red delicious or Fuji or any sweet variety)
- Honey Ridge Farms Lemon Honey Creme - 2 Tablespoons
- water - about 3 cups, to add for boiling tea
- Place the ginger, lemon and apple slices in a large saucepan. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes. You will smell the gingery aroma from the brew and see the tea turn to a darker color.
- If desired, press the fruits through a large sieve and add the liquid to the ginger tea. Pour the tea in a large teapot. Serve with a few tablespoons of the Honey Ridge Farms Lemon Honey Creme mixed in the teapot.
- Substitution: if honey is not available, the traditional ingredient to sweeten this ginger tea is brown sugar. Add about 2 tablespoons brown sugar to the pot and let it boil with the ginger brew.
- Full Disclosure: I was not compensated to mention this brand. It was a gift from the manufacturer and I highly recommend this product for this recipe or any one that needs a honey ingredient.