For the first time, I tried drinking my morning black tea with honey and lemon. The honey was a diluted buckwheat honey water (we are almost out of our honey stash and I am using up the last little bit). The lemon was a Meyer lemon, with a peel almost the pale orange of a sunset.
I tried it because with the cough I have had for almost a month now, the most significant advice given by the nurse at my PCP’s office was “reduce dairy and increase fluids.” Gah. For someone who tries to drink 64oz of water a day, plus 3-5 cups of tea, I know that I can ignore the second piece of advice. But give up dairy?!?! Dairy is my life. I love milk in my tea. I love bowls of cereal, I love cheese with fruit for my afternoon snack. Reducing dairy is no easy feat, but it is also one of the most common suggestions I have read for managing mouth-noise and assuring good vocal health.
I gave it a try. I cut the lemon and squeezed it into the cup, poured in the honey water, and added hot tea. It wasn’t bad. It also wasn’t the comforting, sweet and milky substance that makes me relax instantly. That somehow conveys, tongue to brain, “everything will be alright.”
It was a different set of flavors – but not flavors that were wrong, bad, disgusting, or horrible…as I had always projected they would be. The assumption that tea with lemon was awful has always been based on assumptions I had about the individual pieces-parts of the beverage.
Tea is a little bitter. I have historically not enjoyed the flavor or mouth-feel of bitter things. Lemon is sour. Same reaction. Honey is overwhelming – TOO sweet, too heavy somehow, and I had never enjoyed it, in whole, or as a significant part of a food.
Based on my reaction to the three component parts of tea with lemon and honey, it is understandable that I never experimented. My husband has a food theory that he lives by: If you like all of the things that make up a dish, chances are, you’ll enjoy the food. I never tasted tea with lemon and honey because I didn’t like any single bit going into the beverage.
Luckily for my dairy-reduction-therapy, Tea with lemon and honey is like Rice Krispy Treats. I don’t like marshmallows, and I can take or leave Rice Krispies, but add the butter, and melt it all together and BAM! An instant way for me to put on 20lbs! Magically delicious (yes, I know that’s the wrong cereal, but seriously: MAGICAL).
Somehow, the sour and sweet of the lemon and honey balance out the bitter of the tea. Together, the three components become a new flavor, one that is soothing, without being milky.
I’m very happy to know that I have tasty options for drinking my tea, especially since as my audiobook and voiceover work increases, I will probably eat less and less dairy on a regular basis. There’s still the issue of caffeine, which also dries out the vocal cords, but my experiments with green and herbal teas may be helpful in navigating my vocal health as well.
Do you have a favorite tea recipe? Clearly, I’m in experimentation mode, so please share!