When the temperature drops, I like to make some wedang (Indonesian hot tea) to warm my body. This ginger and lemongrass version is really easy and tasty.
Indonesia has many wedang (hot tea/hot drink) recipes, from more complicated wedang jahe with plenty of spices, to something much simpler like this wedang jahe sereh (ginger lemongrass tea). Though usually translates to tea, not all wedang actually has any tea in it, such as this version. Instead, this wedang is made with only lemongrass and ginger! The lemongrass gives a decidedly fresh citrus grassy aroma while the ginger lends the hot spicy note. This two ingredients wedang is simply perfect for the colder season, and will sure to bring you a big smile and warm up your body. This is also great for those nursing a cold. ♥
Lemongrass and ginger
To get the best tasting wedang, you will want to start with fresh ingredients, in this case, you will want:
- fresh lemongrass
- fresh ginger
Lemongrass should be available in most Asian grocery stores. They are usually in the produce section. Ginger is much easier to find as they are widely available in almost any grocery store, but your Asian grocery stores should have them as well.
How to store/freeze lemongrass
For those who need to travel quite a distance to reach the nearest Asian grocery stores, you can buy lemongrass in bulk and freeze them for longer storage. Here’s what I usually do:
- remove the outer layers
- chop away the top parts (about 4”)
- chop away the bottom parts (about 1⁄2”)
- wipe away any remaining dirt with a damp kitchen towel, the lemongrass should look like the photo above at this stage
- store in a freezer-safe ziplock bag
If you use a gallon-size bag, you should be able to store the lemongrass as is once you go through the above steps. If you use a smaller bag, like a quart-size bag, you can cut each stalk into two to make it easier to store them. When you need some lemongrass for your recipes, simply grab the needed amount from your freezer and use directly without thawing.
How to use lemongrass in recipes
Lemongrass is very fragrant, almost like a lemon, but without any of the acidic property of a real lemon. To release as much of this lemony fragrance from lemongrass, you need to bruise it. Or in a gorier but yet more appropriate term, you want to whack the lemongrass, like really whack it. Confession time, I cook so many dishes with lemongrass that I use my meat tenderizer more to whack lemongrass than to tenderize my meat. So, if you have a meat tenderizer sitting in your kitchen drawer somewhere, whacking some lemongrass is a great stress reliever, and of course, to release the lemon fragrance from lemongrass. :D
How to prepare wedang jahe sereh
Preparing this traditional Indonesian lemongrass and ginger tea cannot be simpler. Simply place all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. And the drink is done! To serve, strain into individual tea cups. It is best to enjoy the drink while it is hot.
Trying other Indonesian wedang
If you love this tea, you may want to give other traditional Indonesian tea/wedang a try. Some of my favorites include:
Wedang Jahe Sereh - Ginger Lemongrass Tea
- 50 gram fresh ginger, peeled and bruised
- 3 lemongrass, chopped and bruised
- 100 gram sugar
- 500 ml water
- Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat and strain into 2 glasses. Serve immediately.