The Turmeric Golden Milk Goes Mainstream

May 30, 2016

It is a drink fit for Midas, with an ochre colour so vivid it doesn’t need an Instagram filter. It’s not made of gold, but it might as well be, given its cult following. “Golden milk” or turmeric latte – an unlikely combination of nut milk and juiced turmeric root – is 2016’s drink of choice.

In a new report on food trends in the US, Google singled out turmeric’s ascent after searches for the spice increased by 56% from November 2015 to January 2016. And fuelling that rise is its use in lattes: “golden milk” is among the top online searches associated with the spice. Turmeric lattes are now being sold at cafes from Sydney to San Francisco, and the drink is gaining fans in the UK.

At Modern Baker in Summertown, Oxford, sales of turmeric lattes – listed on the menu as “Golden mylk” (the “y” is health-speak for non-cow milk) now outnumber that of regular lattes. Turmeric lattes routinely feature in reviews for the York outpost of the Filmore & Union restaurant chain.

Nama, a vegan restaurant in Notting Hill, west London, has noticed a surge in the turmeric latte’s popularity recently, even though it has sold the drink for nearly two years. A prescient former employee used to whip them up for the staff, and they went down so well that the latte ended up on the menu.

“Nobody was really serving them,” Nama co-founder Irene Arango recalls. “We used to do little tastings at Nama and people got hooked.” It is also, as Arango puts it, a pleasant way for health-conscious diners to get a fix of turmeric juice.

At first, it seems an odd concept. Turmeric is mostly known as a curry ingredient that leaves indelible yellow stains on appliances and fingernails. And, save for the aeration and the artistic lashes of cinnamon, the turmeric latte bears little similarity to its caffeinated namesake. But this is one of those trends whose provenance isn’t just Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website.

After ghee, homemade yoghurt and coconut oil, turmeric is the latest health-food trend to originate from the south Asian pantry, another sign that the Indian subcontinent may be ahead of the hipster curve. Turmeric and milk is a fairly well-entrenched drink in the region’s food culture, where it is considered a restorative. Turmeric is part of Ayurvedic medicine – a holistic, all-natural approach to health that has been practised for centuries in India – and a ubiquitous ingredient in curries and rice dishes.

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