Turmeric latte, 2016's drink of choice with a cult following

Turmeric latte at Nama, a vegan restaurant in Notting Hill, west London.
Turmeric latte at Nama, a vegan restaurant in Notting Hill, west London.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/NAMA

Turmeric latte or "golden milk" - a combination of nut milk and juiced turmeric root - is the hot beverage of 2016.

The spice most often associated with Indian cuisine has become a hipster health drink of choice. Google singled out turmeric's rise in popularity in a new report on food trends after searches for the spice increased by 56 per cent from November 2015 to January 2016.

The most popular way to consume it in the west is in lattes: "golden milk" is among the top online searches associated with the spice.

Turmeric lattes are now available at cafes spanning the globe, from Sydney to San Francisco, and the drink is also gaining popularity in Britain, according to a report in The Guardian.

Nama, a vegan restaurant in London's Notting Hill, reported a recent surge in demand for turmeric latte - 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 told The Guardian. "We used to do little tastings at Nama and people got hooked."

She added that it was also a palatable option for health-conscious diners to get a fix of turmeric juice.

Turmeric is mostly known as the spice in curry rempahs which leaves bright yellow stains on kitchen utensils and chefs' fingers.

But it is not the first ingredient from the South Asian pantry to be hijacked by hipsters: ghee, homemade yoghurt and coconut oil have preceded turmeric's recent meteoric rise in the health food world.

Turmeric and milk is well-known as a restorative in India, and the South Asian recipe website Khana Pakana describes haldi doodh, a turmeric-and-milk concoction as a drink for women who want to lighten their skin.

The spice is also a part of Ayurvedic medicine - the holistic approach to health that has been practised for centuries in India. It is believed to help with everything from cancer to coughs, and is often prescribed to children who have fever. The most commonly used recipe calls for turmeric powder mixed with milk and a dash of black pepper, as well as an optional addition of ghee.

Turmeric's rise as a food fad is tied to this history as a health remedy as it is promoted as an anti-inflammatory and an alternative to a caffeinated drink. Ms Arango told the Guardian the turmeric latte is particularly popular with customers in the mornings.

Other variations of the turmeric latte are made with an espresso shot, and as an iced drink. The health hipster twists on the age-old haldi doodh beverage also include using cold-pressed turmeric juice, and adding steamed almond milk or coconut milk instead of regular cow's milk.

Market research firm Mintel previously named turmeric as one of its foods to watch in 2016. It has done the rounds of wellness blogs, websites and Instagram accounts for several months, and recipes for the drink abound on Pinterest.