Updated: Oct 2
Some of my oldest memories involve sitting in my grandmother's kitchen, the air heavy with spice, and my tummy full of food. But on cold winter nights, my favorite thing was my grandmother’s “Lemon Stuff.” The whole family called it that, and we still do. A pot of “Lemon Stuff” can be found lightly simmering on the stove in every family member's home from November till Spring thaw.
As an adult, I now know her recipe closely resembled a Hot Toddy. We certainly drank it with whisky if a cold was particularly nasty, but I’ve never seen a recipe quite like hers, and it has a special place in my heart, which is why I used it as a base for my Cold Buster Tea. The following recipe is a combination of my family's tried and true cold cure, with a few additions based on my own herbal knowledge.
A Quick Disclaimer
Just because something is “natural” does not always mean that it is safe for every person. When it comes to herbal medicine, there are many plants that should be avoided when pregnant or nursing, and some that can cause extreme interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medicine. Before using herbal preparations, always do your research, speak to a professional regarding any significant concerns, and never fail to seek medical advice when needed.
This drink is perfect if you're feeling a cold or sore throat coming on. When I’m sick, I’ll brew a fresh batch and drink it by the pot until I’m feeling better, which, thanks to this tea, is usually in no time at all. It’s loaded with Vitamin C, antioxidants, anti-virals, and anti-inflammatories.
What’s In Cold Buster Tea?
With a few exceptions, most of the ingredients for this recipe can be found in any home. I’ve provided links for harder-to-find ingredients. However, since this is a folk preparation, you can feel free to make it with whichever ingredients you have on hand or that you prefer the taste of.
Cinnamon contains high levels of vitamin C, as well as antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial properties to help boost your immunity naturally. Who doesn’t want that when they're under the weather?
Cloves are packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which can come in handy during cold and flu season. I love this drink for sore throats because the high clove content has a numbing effect that is so soothing.
Ginger has a long history of medicinal usage during fall and winter to ward off respiratory tract infections and colds/flu. It has anti-inflammatory properties for soothing sore throats and calming coughs.
Here again, our spicy friend ads a helping of vitamin C as well as helps to clear sinuses and warm you up from the inside out.
Lemons are loaded with vitamin C, which is known to support the body's natural defenses and is reported to decrease the strength of cold and flu viruses. Most people don’t know that the highest vitamin C concentration is held in the rind, which is why we use the whole lemon and not just the pulp for this recipe.
This is yet another plant that packs a potent vitamin C punch and contains anti-viral properties, which in and of itself makes it worth adding, but Mullein really shines as an expectorant and has a long history of being used to treat respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and even asthma.
Nutmeg is a warming spice with strong antibacterial properties that can help boost the immune system and add a pleasant flavor to the mix.
What Echinacea is to the midwest, Osha is to the southwest. Osha is referred to by indigenous tribes as “Bear Medicine” because it is one of the first things bears eat when they come out of hibernation. It is a powerful immune booster that contains anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
If you’re not familiar with Native American medicinal practices, you may find the thought of eating or drinking pine needles a bit odd. But pine is high in vitamin C as well as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and has a history of being used as a decongestant.
How to Make Cold Buster Tea
Drink this tea hot at the very first sign of anyone around you being sick. All the ingredients work synergistically to boost the immune system and help you fight off nasty bacteria.
4 cups of Water
1 Tbls Whole Cloves
1 Tbls Cinnamon
½ Tbls Nutmeg
2” of fresh Ginger (or 1 Tbls of dried)
1 Tbls dried Mullein
1 Jalapeno (or 1 tsp dried chili flakes)
2” piece of dried Osha Root
1 small handful of Pine Needles
Sugar or honey to taste
Add 4 cups of water and all the herbs and spices to a large pot.
Scrub the outer rind of your lemons and cut them in half, squeezing as much juice as possible into the pot. Then, quarter the lemons and add them to the pot as well.
Boil the tea until all spices sink to the bottom of the pan, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Once the spices sink, sweeten the tea with sugar to taste, or add honey to cups individually.
Even on days when getting out of bed is hard, I can still put a pot to boil and drink this tea throughout the day. What is your favorite cold remedy? Tell us all about it in the comments below, and as always, until next time,