It won't cure you, but it'll help you get through peak seasonal illness time.

By Stacey Ballis
November 11, 2019

You would think that two people who both work from home full-time and do not have children would not need to worry so much about cold and flu season. And yet, every winter, my partner and I invariably come down with the crud, and then pass it back and forth to each other.

It’s miserable. But there is one way I’ve figured out to make it less miserable, even if it’s not a cure for the common cold, exactly. Every year I make a batch of what I’ve come to think of as “wellness tea gloop.” This concoction is my go-to when I start to feel that little tickle in the back of the throat or wake up achy and more tired than when I went to sleep, or when my daily morning nose stuffiness has not abated by noon. It’s just a simple paste that I make and keep in a jar in the fridge. The main ingredient is honey, boosted with citrus, fresh ginger, and fresh turmeric. All have properties of health and wellness, from being anti-inflammatory to immune boosting, but let’s be real: whether or not they’re doing anything to lift the winter nasties, they also taste good and, when, mixed into hot water or hot tea make for a throat-soothing, body-warming, stomach-settling brew.

Sure, you could just make this one cup at a time, adding the ingredients to hot water, which I might do if I were just chilly and wanted a warming beverage. But when the ick hits and you need something right now; it is good to not have to think beyond putting the kettle on.

Mine might alter batch to batch, sometimes I use orange and lemon, sometimes just lemon. Sometimes I get crazy and toss in some red pepper flakes, since the extra heat is great for clearing sinuses. But generally, I remove strips of zest from two or three lemons and one or two oranges, toss into my food processor, and blitz into a coarse paste. I add about a four-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger and one to two inches of peeled turmeric root and blitz again till I get a really good mash. If I am adding the red pepper flakes, I do it now. Then I add about a cup of honey. I’ll use raw if I happen to have it, but I don’t make myself crazy, any honey will do. I don’t recommend super exclusive expensive honey; it’s going to get so much flavor from the other stuff you will lose nuance. Think Costco honey, not Whole Foods honey.

Once you have everything well mixed, transfer to a small pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat, then turn the heat off and let sit in the pot off-heat until cooled to room temp. Store in a jar in your fridge and add one or two tablespoons to a large mug of hot water or brewed tea to make a beverage that is super-restorative, even if you are feeling fine. A spoonful in gently warmed bourbon or brandy doesn’t go amiss on a cold winter’s night either.

If you find after a while that the intensity of the heat of the ginger or the citrus punch has dulled from hanging around, simply pulse up more zest and ginger and stir it into the remains of your jar, and bring the whole thing back to a boil. You don’t ever really need to start from scratch unless you have completely run out. Honey is the only food product that literally does not go bad, so as long as you have brought the other ingredients to boiling temp, it can hang out in your fridge forever. Don’t worry if it crystalizes, it will still melt fine in your hot beverage, or you can loosen it up in the microwave.

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