Q&A: Tanita de Ruijt of Jamu Kitchen

When it comes to health and healing, there’s a whole holistic world out there that just seems to keep growing. From natural supplements and powders to the likes of matcha, charcoal and turmeric - it seems the buzz ingredients are really earning their stakes and proving their powerful worth. One woman who is harnessing these ingredients is Tanita de Ruijt, the founder of Jamu Kitchen - purveyors of natural tonics with ancient healing properties. After spending some time in Indoneisia, Tanita came across natural the traditional methods of Jamu, similar to Ayurveda in India or Chinese Medicine. Inspired by their ethos of natural healing and Indonesia’s medicinal tonics, Tanita turned her hand to recreating these powerful concoctions and bringing them back to the UK so we could all benefit from their impressive list of perks.

Jamu Kitchen’s glass bottles are full of brightly coloured liquids that help aid everything from skin to digestion and immunity. You can pick yours up from Whole Foods, Planet Organic and Selfridges, or swing by to chat to Tanita every Saturday at the schoolyard in Broadway Market. We’re a sucker for turmeric-tinged tonics and anything that’ll naturally give us a bit more oomph, so obviously we were keen to pick Tanita’s brains to find out more. Scroll down to read what she has to say.

What is your background and what were you up to before launching Jamu Kitchen?

I was the former Brand Manager at the fast growing London-based company, Rude Health. I was responsible for launching brilliant new foods, educating consumers, and increasing brand awareness.

I discovered Jamu whilst travelling in Indonesia about 3 years ago. It’s an integrated system of inner and outer health and beauty. Just as India has Ayurveda and China has Chinese Medicine, Indonesia has Jamu. What these systems have in common is that they all rely solely on the power of natural ingredients such as herbs and spices to maintain whole body health.

I am really passionate about discovering old-world traditions that have sustained healthy people for centuries, and finding simple ways of incorporating them into our lives today.

How did you become interested in Indonesian tonics in the first place?

It all started by chance in Bali. A lady would swing by my homestay every morning with a magical cart filled with an array of different tonics and herbal remedies to cure what seemed like every ailment under the sun. Turmeric Tamarind Tonic was her most popular remedy. Naturally, I became an avid fan, and somehow managed to convince her to show me how to make it in her own kitchen, along with a few other potions.

What would you say are their primary properties?

A remarkable number of different tonics are made using various combinations of basic gingers. Turmeric, for example, is a type of ginger. These roots are incredibly anti-inflammatory and powerful immune system boosters.

What’s the basic process for making one of your tonics?

Different types of ginger roots are ground into a fine paste, and combined with other medicinal herbs and spices for their cumulative effects. Each combination creates a unique tonic to cure different ailments.

What’s so great about turmeric in particular and why should we all be consuming it?

Fresh Turmeric is a lively root, highly praised for its healing powers. It has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, due to an active chemical called curcumin, which can reduce inflammation. Regular consumption of turmeric helps to protect the digestive system, cleanse the blood and improve circulation. It’s found in almost every traditional Jamu recipe.

What are your future plans for Jamu Kitchen?

Dare I say it, but I’d love to open my own tonic shop.

What are your favourite East London hangouts?

Workspace

Morty and Bobs

Food

The Gallery Café – try the veggie burger
Jims Café
P Franco
Embassy East
Leila’s Shop

Pub

The Dove

Hangouts

The Park – London Fields
Netil 360

Gyms

BLOK
Stretch

Thanks for chatting to us Tanita! Find out more about Jamu Kitchen here.

Images: Issy Croker

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