The Eight Types of Jamu

Learn about the different types of this healing drink and their benefits

By Indonesia Gastronomy Network

in collaboration with ACARAKI

Wilwatikta Symbol by AcarakiIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Since the Majapahit kingdom era, Jamu has been concocted and consumed. There are eight types of jamu consumed in Sultan Agung Mataram’s palace. 

Wilwatikta Symbol by AcarakiIndonesia Gastronomy Network

The eight types (see description below) of jamu refer to the eight directions of the compass, the solar symbol of Majapahit Ri Wilwatika (Bima Krida, 2012 in Moelyono).

The Soldiers of Yogyakarta Palace by DananjoyoIndonesia Gastronomy Network

From Sultan Agung's perspective, the eight types of jamu were proven to maintain health and provide healing to the sick of the Mataram kingdom family. Sultan Agung intended to bring the eight different types of jamu to the people outside the Palace, so that it could be consumed by the community to maintain health and provide healing as well.    

The Soldiers of Yogyakarta Palace by DananjoyoIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Mataram was a large kingdom, so it needed a strong army which could only be obtained if the people of Mataram were healthy. Therefore, jamu was developed as a popular drink for communities throughout the territory of Mataram and has spread throughout Indonesia as a traditional daily health drink.    

Fasting and Praying Process Before Concocting Jamu by AcarakiIndonesia Gastronomy Network

The shamans- village healers (called Dukuns) helped introduce jamu to the community. The shamans would pray over the concoctions to help in the healing process. 

Since the demand for jamu continued to increase, the knowledge of concocting jamu then began to spread throughout the public. Some people began to sell jamu in the community to increase family income. Jamu products are known today as Jamu Gendhong (Sukini, 2018).

The Eight Jamu Symbolizing Surya Majapahit Ri Wilwatika by JamupediaIndonesia Gastronomy Network

The eight types of jamu have a sequence of flavors ranging from sweet-sour, spicy, bitter, and tasteless then returning to sweet. This illustrates the cycle of human life since childhood until death.

The Eight Jamu Symbolizing Surya Majapahit Ri Wilwatika by JamupediaIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Jamu gendhong is part of the journey of Indonesian jamu which has been going on for generations. 

Mbok Jamu (2020-08-18) by JamupediaIndonesia Gastronomy Network

The sellers of jamu gendhong are persistent in providing services, product availability, affordable prices for the lower class community, and preparing herbal consumers since they were children. Without realizing it, they have built a sustainable herbal consumer.

Kunyit AsamIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Tamarind Turmeric

has a sweet-sour taste and is preferred mostly by women. The sweet-sour taste illustrates the journey from infancy that is sweet flowing into the preadolescents age where one begins to feel the dynamics of life souring the sweetness of infancy. With a bright yellow color and sweet and sour taste, Kunyit Asam is one of the most popular jamu amongst the jamu gendong customers, mainly women as it is believed to accelerate healing and prevent pain during menstruation, prevent vaginal discharge, as well as to prevent heartburn and sprue.    

Beras kencurIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Saffron-Colored Rice

Javanese people  say: ‘bebering alas tan keno diukur’ meaning 'the extent of the forest (world) cannot be measured'. This is the symbol of the child entering adolescent age where children often do not think long term about things yet. Therefore, in the community the term of ‘anak bau kencur -a child that smells like an inexperienced child.    

Cabe PuyangIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Puyang Chillies

means ‘cacating lambe purnaning sembahyang’. This is the teenage phase before they come to adulthood which is characterized by unstable natural feelings. Therefore they need to be careful in their choice of words, since saying the wrong thing or showing disrespect can erase the reward of prayer.

PahitanIndonesia Gastronomy Network


shows the bitterness or sorrow of life’s journey as a process for finding one’s identity and achieving the best life possible.    

Kunci SirihIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Kunci Sirih

tasteless, a symbol of the phase of life’s journey that begins to calm down, after one successfully reaches life goals. The kunci suruh jamu is known for its benefit to women especially for vaginal discharge and tightening, body odor and stomach flattening.    

Kudu LaosIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Kudu Laos

has a warm taste representing people living in warmth,“unity”; within the family, local community, working environment and the natural environment.    

Uyup-uyupIndonesia Gastronomy Network


or gepyokan symbolizes someone who is ready to get out of the hustle and bustle of the world. In Javanese mythology it is often associated with the term 'lengser keprabon’. It is when the king is abdicating the throne, leaving the luxury of life to go into asceticism in the forest or in the cave to welcome the glory of eternal life by surrendering into the Divine. 

SinomIndonesia Gastronomy Network


has the meaning of ‘sirep tanpa nampa’ the expression of the atmosphere of ‘living in silence or eternity’ symbolizes of the end of life's journey. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Spice Up The World
Learn the 1,000-year history of Indonesia's spices, meet the makers and see the unique dishes
View theme
Google apps