Winter flu care: pink ginger tea.

Pink Ginger Tea

My favorite herbs for flu care are diaphoretics, to stimulate sweating.*

I like diaphoretics because they support the body’s natural response rather than “fighting” the illness. (I’m not a big fan of the body-as-battleground theory of disease, but that’s a topic for another post.)

Some of my favorite diaphoretic herbs: lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), bee balm (Monarda didyma or M. fistulosa), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), elder flowers & berries (Sambucus nigra) and ginger (Zingiber officinale).

Elderberry and ginger make a delicious tea that you might want to drink all winter, whether you’re sick or not!

To make pink ginger tea:

Slice up 2-3 inches of fresh ginger.

Put the ginger in a pot and cover it with about a quart of water.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of elderberry (frozen, canned, juice, syrup or dried).

Simmer the mixture until it tastes strongly of ginger—usually at least 15 minutes. (The tea turns a muddy purple-brown as it simmers. Don’t worry, we’ll fix it.)

When it’s ready, remove the tea from the heat, let it sit a minute to cool, and add good quality raw honey** to taste. (Don’t boil raw honey. You’ll kill the enzymes.)

Now for the magic. Squeeze the juice from one small or half a large lemon. Add it to the tea. Watch the color change from muddy to clear pink!

Drink hot, preferably while wrapped in a blanket.

*The simple definition of diaphoretic: an agent that stimulates sweating. But as Samuel Potter points out in his 1902 Materia Medica, diaphoretic is derived from the Greek meaning “I carry through.” Diaphoretic herbs help carry heat and energy through the body, promoting excretion through the skin.

**You have to be careful with honey. Most US beekeepers use toxic miticides to keep their bees alive. Talk to your beekeeper, buy organic honey (expensive, if you can get it), or use a reliable supplier like Honey Gardens in Vermont.


  1. Gini said,

    January 30, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

    very interesting. You should submit the recipe for JFI Ginger.

  2. crabappleherbs said,

    January 30, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

    Thanks, Gini!

    I submitted it. It looks like a neat blog.

    (And so does yours! I’ve always wanted to visit Kerala.)

  3. Persephone said,

    January 30, 2007 @ 3:32 pm

    I’ve just discovered your blog. I LOVE the term herbwife- I love your style of herbalism, it’s the kind I want to practice. (I just read the “Wort Moon” chapter of “Full Moon Feast” where Jessica Prentice talks about the terms “alewife” and “midwife”, and she mentions the term “herbwife” and another word I love, “wortcunning”. But I digress.) I just wanted to say I check your blog for new posts daily, and I am really hoping you DO do a post on the “body-as-battleground” theory of disease, and your theory of disease! I soak up all your writing like a sponge! There’s not a lot out about your style of herbalism.

  4. crabappleherbs said,

    January 30, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

    Thank you so much, Persephone! I’m glad I can provide some kind of support for herbwifery online. I have a forum set up at, and I hope it can become a place where herbwives of all stripes can share ideas. (Right now it’s just in the beginning stages.)

    Thanks for the mention of Jessica Prentice—I just checked out her website, she seems amazing. I can’t believe I’d never heard of her! (Perhaps it’s an East Coast / West Coast thing.) I’ll have to get the book.

  5. Persephone said,

    January 30, 2007 @ 5:01 pm

    I can’t believe you hadn’t heard of her either! You MUST read her book- from reading your blog I know you’ll love it. Looking forward to checking out your site.

  6. crabappleherbs said,

    January 30, 2007 @ 5:12 pm

    Hi Persephone. Let me know if you have thoughts about how to make the forum more useful. My other site is my herbal practice: just plain

    And I’ll work on that post about why I don’t buy the body-as-battleground theory. It’ll take some thinking, but it’s so basic to my practice that I really should post it soon.

  7. Caitlin said,

    February 1, 2007 @ 8:02 am

    I’m going to make some Pink Tea as soon as I shut off this box…but wanted to add that Honey Gardens makes a great Elderberry Syrup, all natural, organic, and in my opinion, it has the highest vibration and therefore the best healing effect of any elderberry syrup on the market. I love their stuff!
    And I love this website/blog.

  8. guido said,

    February 4, 2007 @ 8:57 am

    Hey Rebecca,
    nice recipe. I’ve been using Elderberry juice as a pH indicator (like red onion skin brews) when I talk with folks about chemistry – how much more fun to incorporate it into a tasty tea everyone can share afterwards!
    I don’t know about the flavor – but a pinch of baking soda instead of lemon will turn the tea blue…

  9. crabappleherbs said,

    February 4, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

    Hi Guido.

    Cool idea.

    If you do try putting baking soda in it, let me know how it tastes!


  10. The Herbwife’s Kitchen » The body is not a war zone. said,

    February 12, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

    […] In a comment to my post on flu care, Persephone asked me to explain what I meant when I said “I’m not a big fan of the body-as-battleground theory of disease.” […]

  11. Jenni said,

    August 1, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

    Wow, what an amazingly coloured tea! I make ginger tea with fresh ginger, a few other spices and jaggery (unrefined palm sugar). It’s really tasty and very warming, though you can also serve it cold. Check out photos on my blog if you are interested:

  12. leebudz said,

    May 8, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

    can i enquire wat brand of cup that is?
    tea is vry refreshing a vry fun as well


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    August 22, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

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  15. Gwyn said,

    October 3, 2012 @ 11:27 am

    Just made a cup, and I love this tea! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

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