Sickness has swept through my house over the past few weeks, and when it was my turn to be sick, I turned to my old friend: tomato tea.
I’ve been making tomato tea for years, and it’s become a go-to when I’m dealing with a nasty cold or flu. It’s a recipe I learned from Jean Woolhiser at Earth Clinic, and it has brought me so much symptom relief during this bout of cold or flu – I’m not even sure which one I had this time!
I used to make my tomato tea pretty much just like Jean, but over the years, it has evolved as I made it again and again, using what was in my pantry and seemed appealing. This is the recipe that I usually make, with substitutions listed to help you use what you have. Because the last thing you want to do when you’re sick is run to the store.
Tomato tea is not a cure for the cold or for the flu, meaning that it most likely won’t shorten the duration of your illness. What it definitely does is help give you temporary symptom relief. It’s also a good way to sneak in a snack when sickness has sapped your appetite.
Here’s a quick breakdown of why the tomato tea helps you feel better while you drink it and for a while afterwards:
- Ginger. There is evidence that ginger is a good pain reliever. Adding a dash of ginger to your mug can help soothe a sore throat and may even offer some relief to sore muscles.
- Spice. The ginger, garlic, and hot sauce make this drink pretty spicy, and that’s no accident. Spicy foods and drinks help get things moving if you’re congested, and they have a numbing effect that’s nice on a sore throat.
- Heat. Just like spice, a warm drink helps ease congestion. Don’t just sip this tea – breathe the steam deeply. It’s so soothing!
- Nutrition. The reason this drink is made with tomato juice is because when you’re sick, chances are you’re not inclined to eat. The tomato juice delivers some calories and vitamins to help you feel a little bit less weak. A cup of tomato juice has around 50 calories, 120% of your daily vitamin C, 10% of your vitamin A, 2% of your iron, 2% of your calcium, and 8% of your dietary fiber needs for the day. Not bad for a little mug of goodness!
Grab your favorite mug, and let’s brew up some soothing tomato tea, y’all! Watch the recipe video or follow the written recipe below.
Tomato Tea for Cold & Flu Relief
- 1 mugful of organic tomato juice or veggie juice
- juice of 1/4 a fresh lemon or 2 teaspoons vinegar Any vinegar is fine. I've used rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and even balsamic to make this in the past.
- sriracha sauce to taste, hot sauce of your choice, or a pinch of cayenne
- 1 pinch of ground ginger or 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 clove of garlic minced or crushed, or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Warm the tomato juice on the stove or in the microwave. It's even OK if it's a little bit too hot. That nice steam is good for soothing your poor nose and throat!
Add the rest of the ingredients to your mug, and stir.
Sip, and enjoy!
As you can see, this recipe is very flexible. The idea is to get an acidic, somewhat spicy mix happening, so use what's in your pantry to make that happen. I'm sure that some of you are not fans of the microwave, but if you have one, I hope you'll make an exception in this case. Give yourself a break, because (as Daniel Tiger loves to remind us), "When you're sick, rest is best."