Honey-Ginger Tea (for when you’ve got a cold or just feel under the weather)

Oh, October, how beautiful you are, bringing the harvest, my lovely favorite quinces, beautiful colored trees, and the sniffles to my boyfriend’s nose… oh wait, that part is not so nice.  At all.

It’s also totally true that if you treat a cold, it goes away in a week, and if you don’t, it takes seven days.  However, no one ever said that said week has to be totally miserable.  I’m a big believer in not taking antibiotics for every sniffle you get – and an equally strong believer in yes, taking decongestants orally (so they don’t dry out your already abused nasal membranes).  I also know there’s a lot to be done to make a person with a cold much, much more comfortable than they’d be otherwise.  Like, by offering them a blanket, a book, a box of those (oh miracle invention!!!) tissues with balsam in them, and a cup of something warm to drink.

This incarnation of our kitchen's honey jar comes from Gotland

And this is definitely the cup you want to offer.  Or have offered to you, if you are on the receiving drippy end of the cold situation.  Unless you are allergic to honey, or hate ginger or both, in which case, go suck on a sugared lemon.  I mean it, I do that occasionally myself – but if you don’t hate ginger or honey, then you ought to make this.  In fact, if you’ve got a large teapot and the person who’s dripping is not yourself, make the large teapot and share it.  It’s really, really nice when you aren’t sick, too.  I’m eyeing the remains in my boyfriend’s cup right now and regret using the small teapot.

The recipe is essentially what it says above – a good piled spoonful of best-quality honey (you can really taste it in this!) you’ve got, and a finger of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly across the fibers.  I normally keep ginger root and lemons in my fridge, and we always have at least one type of honey around.  A good local set minimally-processed honey is a staple, and sometimes we also splurge on something like Provencal lavender honey, or Tasmanian leatherwood honey (mmm, now I want to order some of that again!).  So, chances are that I have the ingredients for making it on hand at any point, since ginger root keeps nearly forever in a plastic bag.

This (entire piece sliced) is enough for small teapot

Plunk the honey and the ginger into the pot.  Add a slice of lemon if you are so inclined (today boyfriend wasn’t), pour in freshly-boiled water, stir the honey off the spoon, close pot, cover with towel and let stand about 10-15 minutes.

A cork stand under pot helps keep the heat better, but it's not necessary

Why let it stand?  This isn’t an instant drink, people!  It’s raw root that you are steeping in boiling water to leech some of its juice and essential oil out.  It takes a bit of time, and the hotter you keep the pot, the better.  So stick that cozy on it, put a towel over it, whatever.

After the time (I recommend the full 15 min) is past, stir the contents of the pot and pour into cups.  If your pot is worth the ceramic it’s made of, it’ll still be hot, so don’t go burning tongue on this (ouch!), but you don’t want this to go cold – you want to drink it as hot as possible, because it’s nicer to your sore nose and throat, and also tastes better that way.  At least in my opinion.

Now, I sincerely hope you don’t get a cold.  Or a flu.  Which doesn’t mean you won’t, but hey, best wishes and all – it also shouldn’t deter you from making and drinking this, because it’s just nice as a good-night non-caffeinated drink.  I mean, even a faithful worshipper of caffeine such as myself can appreciate something I can guzzle down at half past midnight with no danger of having trouble sleeping afterwards.  Besides, it tastes good.  Really really good.

So yeap.  Make it.  I suspect it will go really well with some fairly plain shortbread cookies alongside it, too – the flavor is very warm and more than a little spicy, so you don’t actually need anything too strongly-flavored alongside.


5 thoughts on “Honey-Ginger Tea (for when you’ve got a cold or just feel under the weather)

  1. This is lovely! I have this every so often, can’t wit til the sniffles (hardly get them). They are pretty good to settle an unsettled tummy too :D Such a soothing drink … so zen!

    1. It’s wonderful – it does things to sore throat that no throat-sucker candy on the market does (and for far less sugar load too!).

      I’ve wondered – do you know if this is a drink of Chinese origin? I can’t remember who taught it to me (I’ve known about it since my teen years), but I have a suspicion it was a friend who is Taiwanese.

  2. There’s a Chinese concoction similar to this but I believe rock sugar was used instead of honey. It’s all about the balance of the heat and coolness and yin and yang and thunder and lightning, totally foreign to me :P
    Oh, I had this funny brew of boiled coca cola with ginger and jaggery at a Hongkong type restaurant… tastes awesome! Don’t know what it’s supposed to do tho, other than made me feel all nice and fuzzy inside. :D

  3. Ooh, this looks so perfect for today. Usually I make this kind of tea with mint instead of ginger, but I’m home sick from work, and I think my stomach would love some warm ginger tea.

    1. I think my head is in agreement with your stomach today – saw your comment and realised that I could use some as well! Hope you feel better soon!

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