Ginger With a Twist
Ginger is one the most famous botanicals in the world. Just about every continent on earth has its own unique twist on ginger, from cakes and curries to teas and medicines.
What is ginger?
Part of the Zingiberaceae family (which includes cardamom, turmeric and galangal), ginger is called a root spice because it’s the root of the ginger plant that we consume (like onion and garlic).
In its current form, ginger doesn’t grow in nature. Instead, it was intentionally cultivated by South-East Asian growers over centuries (possibly millennia) to achieve what we are lucky to enjoy today. Perhaps that’s why it’s so incredibly versatile. Ginger is used for sweet and savoury cooking, in beverages like chai and our own infusions here at Twinings, and for a multitude of health benefits
Let’s take a closer look at ginger.
The ginger flavour profile
Although different varieties of ginger have slightly different profiles (usually depending on where they’re grown), they all have one thing in common: warmth. At Twinings, this warmth forms the basis of a lot of our herbal teas and botanical blends.
Sometimes we talk about warming notes, heat or spice when describing the characteristics of ginger, and this warmth is what makes it so well suited for everything from our classic ginger tea and Dutch speculaas to Korean kimchi and South India’s summer sambaram drink.
Our master blender says:
“Being from India, my favourite way to have ginger is in my food and my chai. I sometimes garnish fresh chai with ginger and it always gives me an unparalleled warmth and spice.”
Benefits of ginger
The warmth of ginger also offers practical benefits and the ingredient has been used as a natural supplement to:
- Aid digestion and relieve bloating
- Support immunity
- Improve poor circulation
- Soothe a sore throat
- Calm an upset stomach
What goes with ginger?
Ginger is a bold flavour, and sometimes it’s difficult to know how to balance it. Dishes like candied ginger and pickled ginger work because they balance sweet, sour, salty and spicy so well.
In sensory terms, we talk about the theory of compliments and opposites. Just like colours, flavour profiles can be the opposite of (or analogous to) other flavour profiles. Ginger and lemon are one of those opposites.
One of our most famous herbal tea blends is ginger and lemon, because they’re a perfect match in more than one way. Both can help to soothe a sore throat but, perhaps more importantly, their opposite flavour profiles (the warming spice of ginger and the cool citrus pop of lemon) balance each other perfectly.
On the other hand, chai is a great example of complementary flavours. Traditional Indian chai contains ginger, cardamom, cloves and star anise, all of which share the warming, spicy characteristics.
Tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, swap the lemon in your ginger tea for mandarin or orange.
What doesn’t go with ginger?
There’s no wrong way to combine flavours, because it all comes down to personal taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Try it as a garnish, in mixology, or chilled with lemon for a summer sip.
Our advice is to follow your palette and find that sweet spot for warmth. Ginger is a big, bold flavour, so if you prefer a more subtle blend, make sure you balance it well.