Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fermented Turmeric Tea

I love Turmeric.  Not only because the color is like liquid sunshine, but because of all great health benefits such as prevention of certain types of cancers and inflammation diseases.  My girlfriend will only drink it once in a while, and reluctantly at that, because she wants to keep her teeth white- liquid sunshine can stain white teeth.  She's a good sport, sampling many concoctions that I make. I drink it when I remember, and I don't think it really stains my teeth.  Those that work with turmeric know that it's yellowing potential is huge when working with it, but it will quickly fade over the next day.

Fermented turmeric tea aka fermented ukon is a common drink in Okinawa. Why ferment Turmeric? Because the Okinawans do, and they live for a long, long time. But really,  it makes a milder tasting turmeric.  I've tested this my self.  A Japanese friend of mine was kind enough to fulfill my request for Japanese fermented turmeric tea when she visited recently.  The tea comes in a granular form, in a paper tea bag.  Directions say to boil the tea for 4-5 minutes then drink.  The writing on the box says that fermentation reduces the bitterness of turmeric.  Swanson claims that fermenting turmeric also ensures high concentration of curcuminoids, the property of turmeric believed to be so beneficial. Can you send me your studies that confirm that, Swanson?  

It was nice to try the Japanese brand tea, but since we have so much fresh turmeric in Hawaii, I wanted to make my own fermented version at home.
Fermented turmeric tea

I've made my own fermented turmeric following this process. 

1. Ferment slices of fresh turmeric in a sugar water using a lactic acid bacteria starter culture.
2. Slice .5 lb fresh turmeric.
3. Add to quart size mason Jar with 3 cups purified water and about .5 cup sugar
4.  Add starter lactic acid bacteria starter culture in the form of ginger bugwater kefir, or something else.
Turmeric fermenting in a lactic acid bacteria brew
5. Stir regularly for the first few days, cover from bugs, and ferment until it stops bubbling.
6. Dry the pieces of turmeric in a low oven or dehydrator. 

BTW in case you are new to fermentation, the bacteria consume the sugars in the water, as well as in the turmeric, and quite possibly increase the bio availability of beneficial compounds in the turmeric.

The resulting turmeric is sweet smelling and lighter in color than the fresh turmeric and presumably better for you.

Dried, fermented turmeric.  Mine in the front, Japanese brand in the back.

Other ways to incorporate fermented turmeric in your diet:

 Add powdered or fresh turmeric to live kim chi or sauerkraut.  Possibly add a few slices to a bottle of kombucha and leave on the counter for a day or two, at which time the bacteria, acids, and enzymes can perform their work.  What about adding the powder to sourdough pancakes?  Or perhaps mixing a few tbs of powder into your miso?  These are some ways to ferment turmeric.  Not saying they will taste super great, but they will most likely be super great for you.   


  1. maybe they consume some sugar, but i would be sceptical to the fact that they consume half a cup. great article btw

  2. Hey, I live in Hawaii and do my own cultured veggies, but never thought of adding fresh herbs. Do you hold classes on Oahu? North Shore?

    1. Hi Patti, I've recently moved to the mainland! But If I do another class on Oahu in the future, I will let you know.

  3. I've been playing around with this and had a couple questions... 1. How long do you find that it bubbles? The first time I tried it was bubbling for a solid two weeks when I accidentally killed it in the oven. The second time it didn't bubble nearly that long. 2. Do you think there is any nutritional value in the liquid after fermenting the turmeric? I couldn't decide whether to consume it or toss it. Thank you!