After almost four years in West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, Iliyaas Muhammad returned to the Philadelphia area and noticed something was missing in American ginger ale: the ginger. During his time away, he’d grown accustomed to traditional beverages that were flavored with the root. So he decided to make his own.
Muhammad was encouraged by his wife, Hadia Muhammad, who was born and raised in Mali. The couple met while Iliyaas was serving in the Peace Corps, and she drew from her family’s recipes to develop a line of ginger-based drinks that the couple began selling in 2011 under the name Really Reel Ginger. They now make the drinks in four flavors that they sell seven days a week at Reading Terminal Market.
The drinks come in four flavors: mint and lemon; mint, lemon, and hibiscus; mint and tamarind; and baobob, an African citrus fruit. The drinks are vibrant, mildly sweet, and herbaceous, and during cold and flu season, the Muhammads tout the healing properties of ginger as an anti-inflammatory and antiviral agent.
They also sell versions that contain no added sugar, as well as bags of handmade ginger hard candy.
— Allison Steele