After a trip to Bali, Jamu’s founder, Michelle, learned how to make Jamu from a traditional Balinese recipe infusing natural turmeric and ginger roots with lemon juice and other spices for good health. 

We caught up with Michelle to learn more about this famous Indonesian tonic now available at Leaf. 

Who are the team behind Jamu drinks and what made you launch? 

We started making Jamu regularly after a trip to Bali a few years ago as Michelle had some arthritis and it allowed her to stop taking traditional anti inflammatories (which are harmful to your kidneys after prolonged use) and also has stopped any further arthritic symptoms from developing.  We also noticed our immune systems, particularly in winter really benefited from Jamu (less coughs and colds).  Lots of our family and friends started taking Jamu too and pretty soon we needed to start making it in commercial quantities to keep up - so we decided to launch Jamu!

What does a day in the life of the Jamu team look like? 

Production days are hectic and start early with crushing up our fresh ingredients such as turmeric and ginger.  The smell is amazing and its one we never tire of!  By the end of the day we have hundreds of fresh Jamu bottles ready for labelling and boxing for our wonderful stockists!  We also love getting out to meet our customers at tasters and markets to spread the Jamu message!  We grow some of our turmeric in our small organic ‘patch’ in Wodonga so that is great fun when we harvest all our beautiful turmeric in autumn.

For those who don’t know, what is Jamu? 

Jamu is an Indonesian word used to describe traditional tonics made from spices, plant roots and barks.  Typical ingredients are turmeric, ginger and citrus juices.  Jamu recipes have been passed down for hundreds of years within families and the Jamu makers within a village are highly valued people!  We might only be discovering the wonders of turmeric but Indonesians and other cultures have been aware of their health properties for hundreds if not thousands of years.  If you go to Bali, you can see Jamu makers selling their beautiful orange tonics by the road or delivering house to house.

What are the health benefits of Jamu? 

Jamu is traditionally taken daily as a general health tonic as its ingredients are well known immune system boosters.  Turmeric and ginger are powerful anti-inflammatories and antioxidants - which is why they are so sought after - diseases of inflammation affect every part of our body from our brain to our skin and anti oxidants have been shown to reduce cancer risk and even support people who have cancer.

How can you enjoy Jamu? 

In Bali people have a ‘shot’ of Jamu every morning.  Its very concentrated so we love having ours every morning with boiling water to make a delicious infusion, particularly in the cooler months this is great for soothing sore throats and boosting your immune system!  In summer our kids just love a bit of Jamu added to some natural mineral water as a healthy ‘fizzy’ drink.  You can also add Jamu to a green smoothie as a ‘boost’, make a spicy latte (not dairy milks) so its a pretty versatile health drink.

What has been your greatest achievement to date with Jamu? 

Going from a drink that we used to make in our kitchen to a fully commercialised process and product that is now on the market for everyone to enjoy.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take 3 things, what would they be?

Obviously some Jamu!  Probably a water purifier and some food seeds (its all about food and drink in our house!)