Golden Milk Goes Mainstream
The turmeric latte is the latest health food fad taking taste buds by storm.
When Google published Food Trends 2016, we learned that turmeric—that yellow-orange spice from the ginger family, most commonly associated with curries—was the latest food fad to hit America.
Think With Google, the company’s insight group, compiled searches from January 2014 to February 2016 to identify top food trends in the United States. The results named turmeric the overall Rising Star. And in the Food with a Function category, it was the most searched. According to the report, interest in the “functional ingredient” spiked 56 percent in just three months (November 2015 to January 2016).
“Turmeric, a spice that’s purported to cure everything from cancer to depression, is the breakout star, with searches growing 300 [percent] over the last five years,” reported Google, adding that on YouTube, “[t]he top 5 videos about ways to consume turmeric (turmeric tea, “golden milk,” capsules) have a combined 3.9M views.”
With turmeric’s fad status officially identified and quantified, the turmeric latte, also known as golden milk, started lapping up the spotlight too, graduating from vegan cafés and hipster hot spots to mainstream media sites like Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Wall Street Journal, ElleUK, and Goop.
The basics of the beverage include milk or a nondairy alternative (almond, cashew, coconut, etc…), fresh turmeric or cold-pressed turmeric juice, and your preferred sweetener (sugar, honey, agave, etc…). Black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon are popular accents. Despite turmeric’s sharp, spicy flavor, like that of a curry dish, the turmeric latte is renowned for its sweet, creamy taste, luring in celebrity health aficionados like Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow, along with Americans taking greater interest in the healing powers of natural foods.
Though it may seem like a new age concoction, this root-veggie beverage is grounded in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest health systems that originated in India centuries ago.
A research review from the University of Maryland Medical Center stated that turmeric has been used for 4,000 years as an herbal remedy. Touted for its anti-inflammatory properties—thanks in part to the active healing compound curcumin—turmeric in your latte can fight infection by boosting antioxidant levels and the immune system, improve memory function, be effective in fighting Alzheimer’s Disease, aid in better digestion and skin issues, reduce bad cholesterol while increasing the good, and lower blood glucose levels. According to the American Cancer Society, turmeric interferes with “several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth and spread.”
Granted, most studies have taken place in laboratory animals or test tubes, and little has been tested on humans at this point. But it’s not just the health benefits that draw people in.
Andie Yamagami, owner of As Quoted, a café in San Francisco explains that it’s the unique nature of the beverage that compels people to it. “It’s warm and comforting, but caffeine free—although we do offer a ‘dirty’ version by request, which adds a shot of espresso. The beautiful color draws people in, but the sweet and spicy taste is what our customers love…. It is smooth and creamy from almond milk, spicy from the ginger root, and sweet from the coconut sugar.”
Jesse Jacobs, founder and CEO of San Francisco’s Samovar Tea Lounge says that it’s important to look for good, quality turmeric. Many times, you’ll see that the spice in the grocery store may have a browner color. The trick is to find turmeric with a very vivid, bright orange color. It should have a sweet and pungent taste. That will help give the turmeric latte its distinctive sweet, spicy, and creamy qualities.
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