Introduction: Garlic Ginger Invicibili-Tea

About: Adventures in sustainable living from a fourth-floor walk-up. Recipes, homesteading, and gardening — all from an urban point-of-view.

Horrible pun. Great tea. So, last year at the peak of flu season, my Broadway ballad-singing spouse came home with a bag full of groceries and funny-sounding recipe from the theatre for a tea that stops the flu dead in its tracks. Sure, things like lemons and garlic are healthy — but more powerful than a viral locomotive? I was skeptical.

This recipe has become my bulletproof vest during cold and flu season. The tea tastes like something out of a Beatrix Potter book for hunting vampires. Surprisingly good, but definitely savory.


1 head of organic Garlic
1 medium hand of organic Ginger
2 or 3 fingers of organic Turmeric
1 large organic Lemon
Cayenne Pepper

Step 1: Garlic Ginger Invicibili-Tea: HOW

First, toss your ginger, turmeric, and garlic in in a pot with about a quart/liter of water. (You’ll be refilling the pot to offset evaporation, so no reason to be a stickler about measurements.) The ginger, you’ll want to slice lengthwise into thin strips — the thiner, the better, to draw out all the benefits. Do the same with the turmeric. The garlic, you can smash under something flat and just peel off exterior. You’ll be straining everything at the end, so no need to be a perfectionist. Then cover and simmer everything for about an hour.

Next, slice a lemon as thinly as possible and toss it into the pot for another 20-30 minutes. (You’re refilling the water, right?)

Along with the lemon, you can add a dusting of cayenne. A couple shakes — or about ¼ teaspoon — should be fine. The garlic and ginger will make this surprisingly spicy, so less is definitely more.

Then, let it cool a bit — down from horrible-molten-death hot to just casual-steaming-tea hot — and strain. (I like to strain it on a cup-by-cup basis. Half because I’m lazy and half because I live in a New York apartment and don’t have a lot of extra pitchers lying around.) Here’s where you add your honey. I like about a spoonful per mug.

Another great thing is to pour your tea into those glass bottles we talked about, and keep a couple travel-sized servings in the fridge. It’s even great cold — just make sure you dissolve your honey before you chill it.

Waste not, want not. After I strain my tea, I’ll usually refill my pot and boil all my spent ingredients one more time. It’s not officially part of the recipe, but I like to get my time and money’s worth.

Step 2: Garlic Ginger Invicibili-Tea: WHY

It’s easy to dismiss positive benefits to placebo, or genetics, or chance — but when you take a closer look at the properties of each ingredient, you start to understand why this tea is so effective.

Garlic may stink, but it’s the smell of a botanical Wunderkind. Garlic owes its power to allicin, an organic sulphur-based compound that’s incredibly antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral — and makes garlic the world’s most powerful antioxidant. How strong is it? A double-blind study found allicin reduced the risk of catching a cold by 64%. Garlic has even been used in traditional medicine to treat parasites and warts, and more modern studies show garlic is effective against cancers like breast, colon, and prostate; shrinking and even killing tumor cells. However, to get the most benefit from your garlic, let it sit for 10 minutes after crushing to maximize allicin formation.

Ginger has long been a famous cure for an upset stomach, but it’s also a natural antiviral. In fact, ginger was found to block the attachment and internalization altogether of respiratory viruses. It also helps our bodies produce dermcidin, a natural antibiotic in our sweat that acts like our own personal hand-sanitizer. And as if you weren’t already sold, ginger’s also a powerful anti-inflamatory — so powerful, in fact, that fresh ginger tea is as effective as ibuprofen.

Turmeric is — in a word — incredible. This relatively-tasteless cousin of ginger is packed with a compound called curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflamatory. Better yet, it increases our body’s ability to detoxify by increasing liver activity; and as an added bonus, recent studies even found turmeric to be one of the leading natural cancer-blockers. What’s not to love?

Honey is naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal, and a probiotic. It’s filled with antioxidants, regulates blood sugar, and increases physical performance. And even more amazing: because bees process pollen to make honey, consuming local honey can actually inoculate sufferers from seasonal allergies. But to get these benefits, be sure to buy local, raw, and unheated honey. Unfiltered’s best, if you don’t mind the occasional chunk of nature.

Vitamin C aside, lemons are fantastic at fighting against infection and promoting the production of white blood cells. They’re antioxidants to the point of being anti-carcinogenic — but best of all, while acidic, metabolized lemon juice actually makes our bodies alkaline. That’s important since pathogens have a difficult — if not impossible — time surviving in an alkaline environment.

Cayenne may have a kick, but it’s fighting for you. This little pepper kills bacteria and fungus on contact. Plus, it stimulates our digestive-, lymphatic-, and circulatory systems — making it ideal for detoxifying. If you’re already sick, cayenne is a natural decongestant and expectorant. And apparently like everything else on this list, studies are linking cayenne’s high levels of capsaicin with the inhibition of cancer formation.

Step 3: Garlic Ginger Invicibili-Tea: RESULTS

In the two years — and thirty-eight NYC cold seasons — since I’ve been making this recipe, I’ve yet to get sick. Two years of hacking people on crowded subway cars, sneezing people in vacuum-sealed conference rooms, and not so much as a scratchy throat. Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s placebo, maybe it’s divine intervention — but my iron-clad health and I won’t be giving up this regimen any time soon.

Don’t tell my HR department, though. ;)