The Book Bender

Pairing literature with food and drink

Ginger lemon tea with honey to take the chill off … in condensed form

I’ve been sick. Blegh. I spent about 24 hours with two tissues up my nostrils, looking like a very unhappy red-nosed walrus with two Kleenex tusks. And my appetite, usually humming with thoughts of food and hopes for meals ahead, screeched to a halt.

My only craving was for lemon tea with honey, and I went through a dozen lemons in my hibernation. I wish I had thought then to make a tea concentrate, saving me from the task of squeezing lemons on the hour. Alas, good ideas do not come as frequently to those whose primary occupation is tissue-rolling, tissue-wadding and tissue-tossing.

At my lowest point, my boyfriend called me out for chucking tissues into a corner of the room, to which I snottily replied, “Well, there’s a trash can around there.” And only then did I notice that he had brought the trash can next to my bed, while I continued to toss tissues with reckless abandon into the corner.

I’ve been a longtime lurker on the food blog of a friend and former classmate (hello, Regina!), who has been romping around North and Central America working on farms and returning home to Tucson, Arizona. She’s a beautiful writer and an upbeat soul; you’ll love her blog as much as I do.

While scrolling through her blog, I came across a summer recipe for ginger lemon tea concentrate. With a few changes, I’ve adapted it to my winter needs, which require warmth and some cinnamon.

I’ll be the first to say that I have no medical authority to speak of, but the triad of honey’s throat-soothing texture, lemon’s vitamin C and ginger’s warmth seems to me a near-perfect remedy for the common cold. The Mayo Clinic includes lemon water with honey in its list of what works, what doesn’t work and what can’t hurt (and to what can’t hurt, I’d like to add online shopping).

On a ginger-related health note: The New York Times discusses ginger’s ability to temporarily sooth sore muscles and to ease nausea caused by chemotherapy, but the root doesn’t seem to improve nausea related to morning sickness. So it’s not the panacea that we hope for, but it comes pretty close.

I suspect this lemon-ginger-cinnamon-honey concoction will be a staple come winter, long after this awful cold has passed. Wishing you all a healthy winter on this Halloween eve!

Ginger lemon tea with honey and cinnamon

This recipe makes about 1 quart of concentrate (which is 32 oz or just shy of a liter). The proportions below create a very, very lemony drink, with a soft ginger warmth and the perfect amount of sweetener. You can modify this drink endlessly. If you’re not as vitamin C-crazy as I was, I’d lessen the amount of lemon juice to about 2/3 cup; the ginger, too, can be decreased or increased to your liking. I imagine a few sprigs of fresh thyme left to steep with the ginger would be a lovely addition if you want some herb flavor.

  • 3/4 cup / 6 oz lemon juice (approx. 4-5 large lemons)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup ginger (about 20-24 coins)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

1. Peel and slice the ginger into coins. I used about half of a large hunk of ginger.

2. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the ginger and cinnamon sticks and simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes. It will give off a lovely fragrance as it steeps.

3. Before cutting the lemons, give them a good, strong roll on the countertop with the palm of your hand. Rolling the lemons before juicing will yield more juice. Squeeze and strain the lemon juice.

4. Add the honey to the pot. A half cup felt like a lot of honey, but it worked so beautifully in the end. Once the honey has dissolved, strain the mixture into a pitcher or large jar. Allow to cool slightly.

5.  Mix in the lemon juice. I add it right at the end, because I wanted the brightness of fresh-squeezed juice and I was worried about cooking off my precious vitamin C.

6. To make a cup of tea, add equal parts lemon tea concentrate and hot water. Store concentrate in the refrigerator.

2 Responses to Ginger lemon tea with honey to take the chill off … in condensed form

  1. Regina says:

    Oh Katrina! I can’t stop smiling! ALSO: I’m going to make that variation STAT. Sounds so delicious. (And the thyme! BRILLIANT!) <3 <3 <3

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