Strangely for a British person (well ok, a British born Chinese) I have a strong aversion to our national pastime of tea. I think it's the milk that does it for me. I remember being forced to drink a bottle a day back in school and looking over with some jealousy at the kid that was allowed to have juice instead due to their lactose intolerance. Richard E Grant had it about right when he compared milk to cow's mucus.

Because I prefer my drinks to be hot rather than cold, and because I'm not partial to coffee either, I've grown up with Chinese, green or white (variation of green) teas. Around a year or so ago I had a bad cold and looking for a natural remedy I decided to make a cup of honey and lemon for the first time in my life. I liked it so much that I now drink around 4 - 5 cups a day broken up by the odd cup of Clipper white tea. I tend to use Manuka Honey, which can be expensive depending on the UMF (unique manuka factor), but Holland and Barrett sometimes has 2 for 1 deals on.

There are apparently many health benefits to drinking honey and lemon, including:

  • Vitamin C in lemon can help stimulate collagen production in the skin
  • It can help to keep your digestive system in order, regulating your metabolism and acting as a detoxifier (especially if drunk first thing in the morning before eating)
  • It can aid weight loss (although drinking honey and lemon water to the exclusion of everything else is just plain nuts! As is any other restrictive 'diet' that's not medically necessary)
  • Manuka honey is considered a superfood and its high tolerance for heat means that you still retain all the antiseptic and antioxidant qualities when used in a hot drink
  • It's great for colds and flu, helping to soothe the throat and break down mucus

I'm not a nutritionist so I can't say to what extent the above is true, but I can say that it definitely helps me perk up in the morning, ready to start the day ahead; dare I say it even makes me feel slightly zen (perhaps it's the ayurvedic qualities). I've become so attached to my honey and lemon that I even carry a flask of it around when travelling for work.

Tips for making honey and lemon water:

  • Unwaxed lemons are best, but if you can only get waxed lemons either cut the rind off or scrub the lemon under hot running water with a scrubbing brush to remove the wax
  • The lemon tends to break down easily so if you don't like having bits in your drink, just add strained lemon juice
  • The more honey you add the sweeter the drink will be. I find my preferable amount to be one teaspoon per average sized cup. If you are not partial to the taste of honey (I never used to be) then add a little sugar
  • Raw ginger is a natural accompaniment to honey and lemon (although I only add ginger when I have a cold)