Manuka honey + lemon potion: The instant pick-me-up

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Honey and lemon tea is my solution to all ailments from sore throats to nausea to homesickness. This simple beverage takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and will perk you up instantly. 

3 glasses of lemon honey water on a white platePin

My favorite way to make honey and lemon water is to use mānuka honey. 

Yes, I’m a believer in the propaganda of mānuka honey. 

Growing up in New Zealand, we learned in school that this honey comes with special anti-microbial properties. It was supposedly used in bandages during WWI when the Kiwi soldiers fought at the Gallipoli peninsula.

With the invention of penicillin and other antibiotics, there’s no need to use honey to combat infection. That leaves more liquid gold to smear on toast, drizzle over yogurt, and combine with lemon juice to concoct a potent potion.

If you’ve never tried this simple honey and lemon drink, you’re in for a treat.

Here’s how I like to make my lemon honey water with different variations for address the seasons

When to drink lemon honey water

I love drinking lemon honey tea when I feel the onset of a cold, especially if I get a tickle in my throat. It’s a terrific beverage for soothing a sore throat and clearing my congested nose.

Recently, I’ve been drinking plenty of lemon and honey water to ward of nausea from the first trimester of pregnancy. 

Not only has it settled my stomach but it’s also soothed my homesickness (along with eating Tim Tams, chocolate-covered hokey pokey, and L&P flavored Whittaker’s white chocolate).

RELATED: Check out all my favorite New Zealand foods here.

Even if the benefits are all due to the placebo effect, I’ll take it! There’s not much of a downside to drinking lemon honey water.

TIP: Avoid drinking the juice from 3+ lemons in one sitting. That could be too much acid and upset your stomach. If you have this issue, drink 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with ½ cup of water to neutralize the acid.

I enjoy drinking lemon honey water when I’m not sick but looking for quick rejuvenation. It’s a cozy hot beverage for cold winter days, a great substitute if I’m not feeling in the mood for a heavy cup of hot chocolate

Hot or cold?

Typically, I drink lemon honey water steaming hot, made from boiling water that’s cooled off with some cold water. 

If it’s a hot day, I make the drink using lukewarm water after dissolving the honey in warm water. 

You could also enjoy it cold with some ice cubes on a scorching summer day. You may even try adding some carbonated water to give it a fizz. It’ll taste like a fancy lemonade

Alex holding a bottle of fizzy water next to lemon honey teaPin

Honey lemon tea variations

Like most of my recipes, there’s dozens of ways you can modify this drink to satisfy your taste buds. While I like the original best, you can add a creative spin based on what’s in your pantry.


To qualify my full-throated recommendations of mānuka honey, I understand not everybody has access to pure, unadulterated mānuka. It’s expensive, and there is apparently counterfeit honey on the market these days trying to cash in on the mānuka bubble. 

In light of this troubling development, I recommend you use the honey that tastes best to you. That could be a clover honey, wildflower honey, or acacia honey. Or honey from the local farmers market lovingly sold by a hobbyist beekeeper. 

NOTE: While I’ve never tried this drink with maple syrup, I think it would work too. 


Any fresh lemon works for this drink, whether that’s regular lemons or Meyer lemons

If you don’t have fresh lemons, you could try bottled lemon juice but it won’t have the same floral, fruity aromas. 

Fresh limes and oranges could also work in a pinch though they will deliver different flavors.


For a mild dose of caffeine, you could brew your honey lemon water with tea. Add a tea bag with your hot water allow the tea leaves to steep before adding the honey. Once the honey is dissolved, you can add the lemon juice. 


If you’re willing to go to the effort of steeping fresh muddled herbs (or dried herbs), you could make an interesting potion, similar tasting to the lemonade infusions

Herbs that would work well with this honey lemon tea include peppermint, basil, sage, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and any of your favorite herbs. 


The most common spice to add to this drink is thinly sliced ginger root, if you’re into ginger. 

As someone who hates ginger tea, ginger polluting my delicious honey lemon tea doesn’t appeal to me. But my midwife tells me ginger tea is helpful for alleviating nausea, so you may consider trying it. 

Cinnamon, crushed garlic, or gin might all be considered spicy additions that could improve the taste and efficacy of your honey lemon water 😉. 

Tips for success

  • Add the honey to warm water rather than cold water to help it dissolve faster. 
  • Avoid using boiling water because vitamin C is temperature sensitive. To keep as much of the nutrients in your drink as possible, mix some cold water into your boiling water to make warm water that you can comfortably hold your finger in. Then mix in the honey (see the recipe card below for the steps). 

Soothing honey + lemon hot tea

Print Recipe Pin Recipe Rate Recipe
This simple lemon and honey water is a refreshing drink that's great for soothing sore throats and warding off nausea. While it's usually enjoyed hot, you can drink it cold too, like lemonade.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Kiwi
Keyword: 10 ingredients or less, 5-minute recipe, batch-cooking, comfort, gluten-free, vegetarian, winter
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 48kcal
Author: Anna Rider
Cost: $1


  • Knife
  • Chopping Board
  • Citrus Juicer
  • glass container


  • 1 medium Lemon
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) honey, add to taste
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Water, use more or less to taste


  • Gather the ingredients.
    Ingredients for making lemon honey waterPin
  • Juice the lemon.
  • Prepare hot water. Mix hot and cold water until you get warm water that's comfortable enough to put your finger in without burning it.
  • Add the honey to the warm water. Stir to dissolve it.
  • Add the lemon juice. Stir to combine. Add more honey if desired.
  • Enjoy your lemon honey tea!
    Instructions for making lemon honey waterPin


Calories: 48kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 12IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
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Can you make this in advance?

Yes, you can make an entire pitcher full of this drink and serve it later, similar to how you might make lemonade

How to store leftovers

If you plan to drink the leftovers more than 2 hours after you first make the beverage, it’s best to put it in the fridge to store. 

You can enjoy the beverage cold straight from the fridge. 

If you want to reheat, you can leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes, reheat it for 30 seconds in the microwave, or add hot water to bring it to your desired temperature.

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About Anna Rider

Hi! I'm Anna, a food writer who documents kitchen experiments on with the help of my physicist and taste-testing husband, Alex. I have an insatiable appetite for noodles 🍜 and believe in "improv cooking".

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