Golden Milk: Sunshine in a Cup

Turmeric Root

Remember Mary Poppins? Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

There have been a lot of recipes for Turmeric Tea swirling around lately. It’s great to see Ayurvedic wisdom going mainstream, and to see people getting relief from various kinds of aches and pains, as well as colds, congestion, sore throats, skin problems, not to mention turmeric’s reputation for reducing tumors, diabetes, inflammation and Alzheimer’s.

Golden Milk made with fresh Turmeric root

Ayurveda is brilliant for its herbal wisdom, such as the benefits of turmeric – but even more so, for its genius in combining. Making dishes, tonics or formulas to create a balanced, whole, all-six-tastes intelligence that super charges healing is a unique forte in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s one of the many reasons I love it, because it is a science of relationships!

That is why this ancient and popular Ayurvedic recipe for Golden Milk is so effective – Ayurveda knows that turmeric’s potency is enhanced when its bitter taste is balanced by the sweet taste. Bitters help the body detoxify, while sweet increases the bio-availability to carry the medicinal qualities of bitters well into your deeper tissues.

gold milk

Can you hear the song? Mary Poppins was right – sweet does help the medicine go down, and be optimally effective.

Only when Ayurveda speaks of the sweet taste, it means foods that are naturally sweet, sometimes almost bland – like rice, wheat, potatoes, parsnips, milk, butter, but also delicious like bananas, berries, almonds, coconut.

Because it is so healthy, I add turmeric to ghee whenever I cook, and stir it into milk whenever making a tea or smoothie. In winter, on any given day, you will find in our kitchen a teapot full of steaming hot water colored deep yellow by generous slices of turmeric and ginger. But I would never have the tea on its own. There’s always some type of milk, usually coconut, and often a spoonful of ghee. For me, turmeric is just too light and drying without the heavy, unctuous, hydrating benefits of the sweet taste.

turmeric milk

If you look at traditional India, you see this medicinal relationship embedded in the cuisine: curries, yellow rice and golden milk are common in Indian kitchens, where golden milk was made fresh and served piping hot the minute anyone complained of a sore, an ache or an illness.

Last week I served it with goat’s milk to a friend, but I personally prefer it with homemade almond or coconut milk. What is it about Ayurveda and milk? You can read about Ayurveda’s love of dairy here, which is perhaps not what you think… Anyway, I give you both ways to make it – and hope you enjoy it, for goodness’ sake!

golden milk-turmeric and boiled full fat milk

Golden Milk
Serves 2

2 c fresh Milk
2 t Turmeric powder, or a 2-inch coin of fresh Turmeric root, peeled
A dusting of fresh cracked Pepper, or a small pinch of ground Cardamom, or both

Put the ingredients in saucepan. Whisk the milk gently while bringing to a gentle boil. Serve and drink warm.

Warning: Wear an apron. Turmeric stains! 

Dairy Free Golden Milk
Serves 2

2 t Turmeric powder or a 2-inch coin of fresh turmeric root, peeled
2 c fresh Almond milk* or Coconut Milk
2 t raw Honey, optional
1 t Ghee or Coconut oil, optional

Add the ingredients to a blender on high speed and mix for a few minutes to heat the drink. Enjoy it warm.

For Vata: Blend in a date and skip the honey. Add a shake of ginger and a dash of cardamom 
For Pitta: Replace the honey with maple syrup
For Kapha: Add generous shakes of ginger, black pepper and cinnamon

*How to Make Almond Milk
Makes about 2 cups

1 c raw Almonds
4 c Water
2-3 Medjool dates, chopped
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Himalayan Pink Salt

In two cups of water, soak the almonds overnight, for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 2 days. Drain and rinse. Pour your almonds in a high speed blender and cover with two cups of water. Slowly turn your blender from low to the highest speed and blend for two minutes. By the time you are done, it should be foamy and very well blended, with the almonds broken up into a fine meal. Pulse a bit longer if needed to get it completely smooth.

Place a nut bag or a generous strip of cheese cloth into a strainer and put the strainer over a large bowl, or a 1 quart Pyrex. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer. Lift the nut bag or cheese cloth and twist to squeeze all the liquid into the bowl.

Pour this liquid back into your blender and add the dates, vanilla and salt. Blend again on high speed until no bits of dates remain. Drink immediately, or store in an airtight jar up to two days in your refrigerator.

golden dreams - turmeric and almond milk


Turmeric is said to balance all doshas, be cleansing to the blood and lymph, helping to dissolve tumors and blood clots, improving circulation, promoting healthy menstruation, strengthening muscles, healing soft tissue injury, decongesting the liver, aiding in the digestion of sugar, fats, and oils, and supporting those with diabetes and hypoglycemia. (NCBI: Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin)

Since turmeric is such a hard worker, I leave you with a little food for thought ~

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.
Find the fun… and snap, the job’s a game!

And every task you undertake
becomes a piece of cake
A lark, a spree,
It’s very clear to see!”

~ Mary Poppins

cuppa gold

May all your days be golden ~

28 thoughts on “Golden Milk: Sunshine in a Cup

  1. thank you, Laura, your “Love Stories” are always anticipated with excitement, as we love to share them with our patients at Vista Hill SmartCare. And this time, the beautiful, green dragonfly mug was the icing on the cake!!
    with gratitude,
    Pamela Sachs

  2. I was just mesmerized by the beautiful Sunshine Mandala of the Turmeric Root. Ohhhh and how I love the beautiful dragonfly cup! I can smell the goodness!

    1. Yes, isn’t turmeric mesmerizing? Where does that color come from? And the way it poured into the cup in a spiral, as if turmeric remembers its own mandala, and keeps on expressing that as it goes. I wish we could study the health science of patterns as well as molecules. Thank you!

  3. Many of my favorite things are alive in this recipe story- yellow, turmeric, Mary Poppins, and you. I find this so rejuvenating and calming, ojas building and cleansing. Reading this makes me want to sing all day and I can’t wait to make some more “spoonful of sugars”.
    Thank you!

  4. Thank you!!! Made the almond milk version this evening .. Was wonderful !!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


      1. Laura, I am back in San Diego .. hoping to see you soon! Just made the milk this evening and saw your reply. I have been back for a month and hope to get to your Friday morning class this week!! peace and love, karen

  5. “Ayurveda is the science of relationships”…I love that you say this Laura. Turmeric tea really does wonders. We’re thinking along the same lines this week with our posts as well. 😉 I’m so glad you mentioned the importance of adding some fat in too. I usually add coconut butter or oil to mine because I like the sweet tropical contrast to the bitter turmeric.

  6. YUM! I’ve been enjoying almond or flax milk with turmeric, cardamom, nutmeg; poppy seeds in the evening for sleep and ginger in the day for digestion. I love the whole simplicity of your recipe for golden milk, ayurveda, yoga and life, darling Laura! You are a golden shining gift!

    1. Thank you, Rebecca, for more of the particulars of the science. I sometimes think to myself, “It’s a blog. Don’t overwhelm. Keep it simple.” Because there is just so much to share about Ayurveda, isn’t there? I am glad you are now one of those sharing – and so powerfully, too! You are a golden gift!

      1. Oh Laura, your writing is layered with depth and wonder. Simple yet infinite. You tell stories that bring a food, a way, a life so alive. I learn so much from you. Your blogs are always just enough and not too much. And.. I’ve long been waiting for you to write a book. Pretty please with a spoonful of sugar on top!

  7. Hi Laura

    I’ve been using turmeric in capsule form, which works well enough but gets expensive (I can go through a bottle of 40 caps pretty quickly). Could you recommend a source to purchase turmeric products/powder, and where can I purchase the entire root?

    thanks for all you do


    1. Hi Sally, the root is available now (in San Diego at least) at healthy grocers and farmers markets. I buy ground turmeric powder online from Banyan Botanicals and there is a link to their site here in the column to the right. Thanks for asking!

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