Keepin’ it old school: Jamu Spa School brings Indonesian traditions alive, one jamu sip at a time

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Someone biting into a “burger” made of quinoa in Seminyak or sipping a smoothie the shade of Ubud’s rice paddies might be tempted to think that Bali’s healthy lifestyle is a recent fad. But they’d be very, very wrong. (But, hey, brownie…er…raw cacao bar points, rather, for the quinoa and smoothie!)

Indeed, Bali’s focus on healthy habits goes back over a thousand years. And one of the strongest ties to Bali’s ancient lifestyle is the traditional herbal tonic jamu.

Drinking jamu, made from a variety of locally grown herbs, is one of the most popular and widespread rituals in Indonesia. Traditionally, it’s the females in the family that mix the tonics and pass down the recipes to the next generation. You’ll also find ladies selling jamu on the streets of Bali. (Women, doing it all as usual!)

Jamu is so important to Indonesian traditions that it was the inspiration behind Bali’s first spa and wellness school, Jamu Spa School, way back in 1988.

Jamu Spa School set out to teach traditional health and wellness in a modern way – the first school of its kind in Bali. Now, the award-winning school has developed into a spa, a production house specializing in natural tonics, a wellness clinic, and a school offering a ton of different workshops and courses. More on that in a bit!

Back to our Jamu, and what makes the bitter brew so incredibly healthy. It’s made from several varieties of fresh ground turmeric root, tamarind, and other beneficial herbs. Downing a fresh glass of jamu is the morning ritual of millions of Indonesians. It’s said to strengthen the immune system and prevent illnesses.

We’d bet our whole stash of spirulina that Jamu is set to take over the Western world with its natural healing properties and vast uses. (You heard it here first!)  But in Indonesia, jamu has been used for centuries to treat everything from indigestion to infertility. Just take a look at these four recipes and the wonders they do for your body.

If our bodies are temples, then Jamu Kunyit Asem or “Raw Turmeric” is the golden nectar of the gods. This jamu is made with turmeric, kencur, white turmeric, tamarind, palm sugar, honey and salt. This concoction is said to cleanse the blood, improve circulation and even remove body odor. It’s also Indonesian womens’ answer for menstrual aches and cramps.

Jamu Beras Kencur is made from roasted kencur, palm sugar and roasted rice. This non-turmeric tonic is said to soothe sore muscles and joints. It’s a common Indonesian remedy for rheumatism, and it’s good for digestion and stimulating a healthy appetite.

Jamu Kunci Sirih consists of temu kunci, ginger, betel leaf, tamarind, pepper, palm sugar and a pinch of salt. This is the potion to imbibe before heading to the beach. It tightens the abdomen, giving you a nice flat stomach, while fighting body odors, supporting women’s health and keeping teeth and bones healthy.

Wedang Jahe is tonic made from ginger, honey, crystal sugar, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, lemon leaves and lemongrass. Besides being a delicious way to start the day, this jamu warms the body and releases influenza, cold and flu. It reduces digestive discomfort and improves stamina and vitality. It’s even said to help with stress, depression and high blood pressure. It’s filled with antioxidants and free radicals, which, you might have read, are thought to fight cancer. Yep, these tonics are a lot more powerful than they look!

So sure, Bali is chock full of superfoods and supergrains and superbananas. (We made that last one up.) But one of the island’s oldest traditions is right there in every family home and street side stall, and also at the heart of Bali’s oldest wellness school. Jamu Spa School celebrates jamu every day by teaching the recipes, origins and healing benefits of the medicinal beverage.

Jamu Spa School even produces jamu and other traditional health and beauty recipes in-house – which means the natural ingredient and antioxidant-laden products getting slathered and smeared on you at their very own JAMU Spa are extra fresh and authentic. But these wellness gurus aren’t content to simply make jamu. No, they’re on a quest to bring jamu to the world.

Learn how to concoct each of these herbal tonics yourself at Jamu Spa School’s Herbal Tonic Making Workshop. It’s one of the most interesting elements of Balinese culture that you can learn, understand, take home and use in your everyday life.

Join workshops and one-day courses on jamu and other Indonesian traditions like oil blending and Balinese massage. (You’ll probably find us in the workshop that comes with an indulgent one-hour spa treatment!)

The teaching methods at Jamu Spa School are based on decades of experience in the spa industry. The school teaches authentic traditions in a sleek, sophisticated environment using modern teaching methods – a soothing balance between modern and traditional. Now, that’s a tonic that goes down easy!

Head over to Jamu Spa School to learn more about wellness workshops, courses, products and traditional Indonesian spa treatments now! The secret to a more beautiful wholesome life is just one click away.

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