The Only Tea I Drink When I Feel a Sore Throat Coming On, According to a Nutritionist

It's similar to the Starbucks Medicine Ball, but with way less sugar.

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white mug of tea with honey dripping in
Photo: Paige Cody / Getty Images

Years ago, when I was working at a hospital for my dietetic internship, I lost my voice. All the cooks in the hospital kitchen—and there were a lot of them—told me I needed to drink some tea. And not just any tea, but a very specific concoction to help my throat. Low and behold, they were on to something. I’ve been making this drink whenever I feel a hint of a scratchy throat for over 10 years now. I’m pretty sure it predates Starbucks famous Medicine Ball concoction, which is now on the menu as their Honey Citrus Mint Tea, but it is similar. It also has far less sugar than their version. And while it’s not magical—meaning, you still might get sick and you still need to wash your hands and avoid sick people to stay healthy—it helps me feel a bit better.

They told me to get chamomile tea and mint tea, pour honey on top and add lots of lemon. The combination of the herbal chamomile and the refreshing mint tastes delicious and invigorating. I would drink the tea purely because it’s yummy, but science helps back up this drink’s healing power.

How to Make My Soothing Herbal Throat Tea

Combine one mint tea bag (I like Tazo mint tea. Buy it: 6 boxes for $18 on, one chamomile tea bag (I like Tazo chamomile. Buy it: 6 boxes for $19 on and a couple teaspoons of honey (I like Nature Nate’s honey bear. Buy it: $5 on Once the tea has steeped for a few minutes, add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I like to brew this up in my giant Hydroflask Tumbler (Buy it:, $30) so it stays hot while I sip. (This stainless tumbler by Contigo is less expensive and came highly rated in our reusable coffee mug test, $14, You should be able to find all these ingredients at your local grocery store—nothing fancy required.

Why It’s Good for You

Adding honey actually can help soothe your throat and reduce coughing, which they probably knew from drinking this tea, and studies actually back up.

Lemon also adds some vitamin C to your drink. Vitamin C is important for immune function, so it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra in your tea. (If you’re feeling under the weather, try eating more of these foods high in vitamin C for a little immune boost.)

Staying hydrated is also important when you’re sick. Be sure to drink lots of water if you're not feeling well. Teas, soups and other hot beverages can actually help break up mucus.

This tea drink also doesn’t have any caffeine, so it won’t keep you up at night. Sleep is important for immune health, and research has shown drinking chamomile tea can help get you sleep. Another win for this drink!

Compare that to Starbucks Honey Citrus Mint Tea which is made with their mint tea, peach herbal tea, lemonade and honey. You get the same herbal, mint combination but they add lemonade instead of fresh lemon juice and honey. A grande tea delivers 30 grams of sugar. If you make my homemade version with 2 teaspoons of honey, you’ll get about 12 grams of added sugar. You can always add less honey to your homemade version, but don’t skip it completely. Plus, brewing up tea at home saves you money. I hope you’ll give this drink a shot and that it helps your sore throat feel better.

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