HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Hot water + ______ = a nice drink

Well, now that the weather is getting warmer, this means that the office is getting colder... WAY too cold, in fact! Since everyone else seems to be eskimoes and enjoy it, I wrap up in my blanket and drink hot drinks... yep, that's right, even in August! I've been trying to drink less caffeinated drinks and less dark drinks (trying, being the key word), so I was thinking of some good combos that I could make up at home. The first thing I thought of was hot water steeped with a little bit of honey, lime zest, and grated ginger, so I'm going to give that a shot this week. Anyone have any other interesting ideas?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. ... with Japanese Umeshu (sweet plum wine). I do a half-half ratio and it's fantastic!

    3 Replies
    1. re: foodslut

      Might want to pass on the wine at work... might lower the work productivity:)

      Cinnamon stick added to the steeping would be tasty. Even a little black peppercorn--you've got something very close to chai.

      I've been drinking more rooibos, honeybush and hibiscus at work. All without caffeine all have some of their own sweetness.

      1. re: drmimi

        Yeah, I have a hard enough time staying awake at work without wine!!

        1. re: drmimi

          I was also thinking about steeping a cinnamon stick. Perhaps combine with cardamom? And/or just a hint of vanilla?

          I'm a big fan of steeping ginger root, though I have a bad habit of including a bit of brown sugar.

      2. How about Raspberry and Rosehip Tea by Taylors of Harrogate? It's really delicious (I get 50 bags for appr $8-9). It's delicious hot or cold. In summer I make pitchers of it to keep in the fridge. At work I have it hot, or if I forget about it or get called away, it's delicious at room temp or cold. Has a nice clean taste. Highly recommend it!

        1. A handful of dried cranberries infuse nicely into hot water (I find it's plenty sweet without any additional sweetener, since the dried cranberries usually have some sweetener added) A couple cloves or a cardamom pod makes it kind of nice (though maybe a little christmas-y?)

          I make ginger tea with honey too, but prefer to use sliced ginger so I can strain it out more easily (gets a bit overpowering to have the pieces, if your ginger is potent)

          If you live near a japanese or korean supermarket, pick up some roasted barley and you can make some big jugs of barley tea-- good hot or cold...

          And for a salty rather than sweet drink, umeboshi tea is one of my all-time faves:
          (The recipe uses kukicha, which has a small amount of caffeine, but less than others; you might be able to use decaf green tea instead)

          11 Replies
          1. re: another_adam

            I've seen big cellophane bags of tea and apparently barley at the Asian market - how do you make it?

            1. re: waver

              If it's a big bag of roasted barley (mugi in Japanese, bori in Korean), take a handful of it and put it in a pot, pour about four cups of water in, bring to a boil and then let steep for a while. (You can simmer it while it steeps, or just turn it off and let it sit). Strain into a pitcher and serve hot, or cool and serve chilled. Adjust the size of the handful and steeping time until it's done to your liking!

              1. re: waver

                You might be talking about genmai cha, which is green tea with roasted brown rice in it...I'm drinking it right now!! It's delicious and toasty tasting.

                1. re: prunefeet

                  I love that tea. It's surprising how roasted brown rice adds that extra flavor. Darn, there's a great word in Taiwanese for it but there's not one in English but it has to do with extra good scent/taste/aroma.

                  1. re: prunefeet

                    Just to clarify: it looks like we're talking about two distinct things (barley tea, which has nothing but barley, and brown rice tea, which is normally mixed with green tea) Looking back at waver's question, it might indeed be referring to brown rice (genmai) tea. (Not sure if the tea and barley being referred to were in the same bag, or different bags) Both are nice, but brown rice tea has caffeine, which the OP was wanting to avoid.

                    There are lots of other great "relatives" of both types; Korean markets often sell corn tea in addition to barley tea, which is sort of like drinking a nice hot mug of popcorn :) Like genmai chai, there is also houji cha (another roasted tea), and lots of variations. (Tthe differences in taste can be quite subtle.)

                    1. re: another_adam

                      Thanks Adam, I would like to try some more of these roasty tasting teas. I'm not mad about sweet or tart teas these days...by the way, genmai cha has caffeine but not a lot.

                      1. re: another_adam

                        well, I'm definitly going to try both, but indeed the stuff that grabbed my attention was a combination of things in one bag: tea leaves and I guess rice. Do I prepare the same way as you said for the barley?

                        1. re: waver

                          For genmai cha, just steep as any other green tea (in a bag or in a mesh filter, or in water and then pour through a strainer) Some get a bit bitter if you steep too long, so be sure to test from time to time during steeping to figure out how long to steep it to your liking!
                          Barley tea can be steeped for a longer time, or boiled in the water for a while. (Since it's a grain, it's more robust and takes more to extract the flavor than from the tea leaves)

                  2. re: another_adam

                    I have to ask because I am so curious. What does roasted barley "tea" taste like?

                    1. re: QueenB

                      Hmmm, it's a little hard to describe. Roasty and toasty and kind of .... clean and refreshing. I don't think I've ever met anyone who doesn't like it when they encounter it, so you are probably fairly safe buying some to try, if curious :) (There are also packets in tea bags for more convenient preparation, which are totally fine but sometimes not quite as nice a flavor)

                      1. re: QueenB

                        I've enjoyed it since I was a teen and friends introduced me to it, but my friend had it for the first time recently and was disgusted. He asked for ice water and was given iced barley tea. He drank it, but after dinner complained that if he'd wanted dirty barley water he would have asked for it.

                        It tastes like grain cooked in water. If you can imagine horchata without sugar, or like soy milk without sugar, you won't be far off.

                    2. I was thinking about some herbs too... maybe something with lavendar or rosemary or sage? Might be too strong, but I could not let them steep as long...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Katie Nell

                        Here's a recipe for Sage Tea from Herbs in the Kitchen:

                        1 qt water (it specifies spring water)
                        1/2 c. packed fresh sage leaves
                        3 Tb sage honey
                        1 lemon or lime
                        Bring water just to boil; pour over sage. Stir in honey and lemon or lime juice (to taste). Steep about 20 minutes. Strain.

                        1. re: debbiel

                          watch out for sage (as well as other flowers such as chrysanthemum) teas- if you have hayfever, you could end up a itchy eye, runny nosed. I found this out the hard way this weekend taking "throat coat" tea. Forget to look at the ingredients- sage is one of my nemesis

                      2. Someone recently gave me some TJ's ginger spread and it is wonderful in hot water with a squeeze of lemon or lime - and maybe even a little honey.

                          1. re: morebubbles

                            There is an asian concentrate made of oranges and sugar. It is sold in a jar, has the consistency of jam and you stir it into hot water. warm yet refreshing.

                            1. re: alex8alot

                              I love that. I was trying to think of the name or google it but came up with nothing. It's almost like a marmalade. Is it Korean? I can't remember what the writing was on it anymore but thought it might have been. It is so multi-purpose, too. I made some great pork chops with it.

                              1. re: chowser

                                It is Korean, but I have also seen it at the Chinese store with no English on the label, so I don't know what it is called. I can't remember the korean name either, but then my mother gets it homemade from some little old lady so there isn't a label there either!

                                1. re: chowser

                                  It's yuja cha (citron tea) and yes, quite yummy!
                                  Other favorite korean teas that would fit the bill include meshil (green plum) tea, jujube date tea, or arrowroot tea. All of these things come in concentrate jars (or inferior but more work-friendly powders)
                                  Another one is yulmu tea, made from a kind of root-- it's fairly thick and filling, requires a lot of stirring to get it fully incorporated, I've never tried to transport it to work...

                                  This reminds me that Chinese markets also have a variety of soy and almond-based powdered drinks, and some marketed as "cereals" that are milk powder with grain that makes a very very soupy oatmeal-type drink.

                                  1. re: another_adam

                                    That's right-citron tea! I also like the peanut butter drink where you just add hot water. It's not the same as the home made one my mom makes but it's good in a pinch.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      What's the homemade peanut butter drink that your mom makes? Sounds interesting!

                                      I really struggle to get water (actually, fluids in general) in my body on a daily basis, so I'm really excited about all the ideas here!

                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                        I tried to find something online but couldn't. I think it's a Taiwanese drink. My mom makes it with Jif pb (authentic!) and sugar, but I don't know what else, milk or another liquid. It's great in the winter but not something I'd want now. The instant package I have is called Peanuts Dessert. Ingredients: peanuts, refined rice flour, dextrose, milk powder and you just add hot water. It's good but nothing like my mom's. Come to think of it, I should have her teach me how to make it next time I visit.

                                      2. re: chowser

                                        is it the tea with nuts and yulmu? i've seen hodo yulmu (walnut & yulmu) tea, and also ones with peanuts or pine nuts included. (never heard of one with peanut butter, though it sounds interesting!)

                              2. Verbena...is divinely delicious, no caffeine, either....


                                1. Try Trader Joe's organic Orange Spice Rooibos tea - I love it.

                                  1. Recently I have just been drinking hot water with a bit of fresh lemon juice. It is really detoxifying and makes me feel great, I also add a bit of ginger if I have it on hand.

                                    The other thing I read recently that I am going to try as soon as I have some time is lemongrass tea... a couple of googles brought up some simple recipe results.

                                    Ever had ribena? It is full of sugar but ohh soo good.


                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Right. But shake some hon-dashi and a few pieces of the cleaned dried and cut up wakame in, while you're at it. Miso by itself is not quite as tasty as when a good base (dashi) is used.

                                        Following the light soup theme:

                                        A pack of Osuimono or Ochazuke (several types). Ochazuke, is green tea base - but it's more of a soup - especially if you happened to carry some rice with you and you mixed it in!

                                        A teaspoon (scant) of tom yum soup base. This company from Texas has all kinds of South-East Asian bases - but the tom yum (Canh Chua Thai) is my favorite - very lemongrassy: http://www.vvfoods.com/new_english/Pr...

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          Wow, unusual (for me) idea. Reminds me of a spoonful of Bovril in hot water!

                                        2. pomegranate molasses

                                          tamarind concentrate

                                          1. I get miso soup mix in 10-packs at the Japanese market (actually 20 packs, since 1 mug of soup = 1 pack of miso + 1 pack of dashi, freeze-dried seaweed, and scallions) and make that at my desk at work. Good for those in-between-meals moments when you want something warm and savory. Or a bit of boullion powder. Careful if you are watching your sodium, though, either of these options contains a lot of salt.

                                            1. How about just some fresh torn mint leaves and a sugar cube? (Kind of like Moroccan mint tea but not as syrupy sweet.)

                                              And having lived in the Midwest for a few years, I totally can relate to the "it's summer but I'm wearing my wool cardigan" phenomenon. Hope the warm drinks help to fight the A/C!

                                              1. I'm surprised there isn't any mention of hot cocoa! Well, maybe there is and I skipped over it somehow--but thats the first comfort drink I think of with the thought of cold rooms. I always start off my hot chocolate with some milk and unsweetened cocoa powder, heated with some sugar (maybe even a little brown sugar), leftover coffee, and a cinnamon stick. I've tried to find some good hot chocolate recipes in the past, and I always end up overdoing it a little.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Nham

                                                  Whenever I think of hot cocoa, I think of nappy time:) But hot chocolate with a cinnamon stick definitely hits the spot on a rainy afternoon.

                                                2. Sesame paste
                                                  Almond powder

                                                  1. honey lime or honey ginger are my favorite combos. i've actually never tried all three together. sounds rockin'!

                                                    i sometimes also do rosemary boiled in water for a while (fish the twigs out unless you need fiber), and add some good honey to the mix. this is supposed to stimulate your blood flow.

                                                    you can do similar things with a lot of herbs. thyme with lemon and honey (and sometimes ginger) is also a very nice combo.

                                                    1. Salabat, a Ginger tea made with Ginger root widely used in the Phillipines. I prefer the Ludy's brand which is usually available in most Asian markets. You use a tiny spoonful per cup.

                                                      Image (competitor) --->

                                                      1. Oh, just thought of something else:

                                                        Puh erh tea: If you have a good tea shop nearby, see if you can find this type of tea (it's a category, not a brand). It's usually sold in a large chunk and you break off pieces for steeping. The beauty of this tea (besides that it tastes good if you like dark, strong brews) is that you can let it steep in a thermos all day w/o the tea getting bitter or astringent. I will sometimes pack up a thermos for husband to take to work so he can enjoy tea in his office whenever the craving strikes. Even though it's strong tasting, it tends to mellow me yet keep me alert.

                                                        If puh erh isn't your thing, then make any sort of tea and keep in a thermos at your desk. A decent thermos keeps things hot all day. Homemade chai would be a nice pick me up...

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Carb Lover

                                                          Depending on what kind of pu-erh you get, steeping it "all day" might be a bit of stretch. I prefer the tuocha (usually the "Camel Breath" from Holy Mountain), and I find that while it needs water at a full rolling boil and at least a half hour of steeping in the thermos (an hour is much better), after about three or four hours it starts to get a little rank. But that's more than enough time for me to finish the whole 16 oz. thermos.

                                                          Helpful hint:I put the unwrapped tuocha chunk in a filter bag and then into the thermos. Clean-up is *much* easier that way, which is a boon at work since we have bare minimum facilities for that kind of thing. I have an electic kettle at my desk, which many of my office mates think is weird since the water cooler dispenses hot water. Hot it is, but not hot enough for black tea (though it's serviceable for green).

                                                          1. re: jdub1371

                                                            Yes, I'm sure that not all puh erhs are the same. I have no idea the name of mine since there's just some Asian script and no English label. The guy who sold it to me gave me the thermos tip, saying he liked the flavor after a 6-hour steep. I've drank the residual tea in the evening upon my husband bringing the thermos home from work and thought it was still very good...dark and concentrated but still good.

                                                        2. I love a nice spiced cider...some cloves, allspice & cinnamon stick?

                                                          This is a great drink list to browse...

                                                          1. I've been drinking rhoobus for a while (in the form of no-caffiene chai), but also have been trying some of the new white teas on the market. Surprisingly, One of my new favorites is Tazo's Berry Blossom White Tea. It is very light, sweet on its own, which nice blueberry fragrence and flavor with just a little bit of bite from cranberries. Very nice and easy to find at SBUX.

                                                            1. I like Masala Chai. Make 1/2 cup of black tea and add 1/2 cup of milk. Stir in a spoonful of Chai Masala that you can get at any Indian grocery store. It has some caffiene but less than a whole cup of tea or coffee.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: kalidaemon

                                                                I love bouillions and find them comforting and they work to fend off the hunger pains. Chicken and beef, are my faves. To change them around sometimes I add about a half a tsp of red curry paste, and tiny pieces of green onion or chives. I also buy the miso packets.

                                                                Or mint in the green tea or light teas. I use a little coffee press that just works beautifully with anything I put in there. Orange or lemon slices. I have not tried ginger,but sounds good to me!

                                                              2. You might find this convenient for work, Katie: http://www.adagio.com/teaware/ingenui...

                                                                My brother gave me one as a gift, and though I wish it was glass, I use it a lot. I realize it's much more convenient in plastic, though. For people who work in offices, it's a great way to have loose leaf tea or tisane quickly and with easy cleanup. I buy most of my tea and tisanes from Upton rather than Adagio. I find them fresh and reasonably priced, and their shipping is inexpensive and quick to KS. Most orders come in 2-3 days.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: amyzan

                                                                  Wow amyzan, that is so cute and will definitely do the job. if I didn't own 8 of those little coffee presses I would be tempted to buy this!

                                                                2. I've never tried making my own... but I love the Celestial Seasonings herbal (especially fruit) teas. They make a fruit sampler that has half a dozen teabags of each flavour so you don't get sick of having the same one all the time. Lemon tea is also wonderful.

                                                                  1. Perfect summertime bevvie is rum and lime with lavender simple syrup. Take hot water and add sugar, heat until the sugar dissolves. Add lavender leaves and lightly boil for about 2 minutes (never leaving it unattended). Let cool, then strain and pour into a glass of ice with a splash of fresh lime juice and a shot of Mount Gay rum. Garnish with an enormous sprig of mint. Don't you wish you were out in the sunshine having one right now? Very Gatsby.

                                                                    1. Hey Katie!

                                                                      When I have an upset tummy my husband takes chunks of ginger and puts them in a tea infuser/steeper/thingy and then adds sugar or honey. It's a lovely drink.

                                                                      Ok, you may find this VERY odd - but I had a tonsils out at 15 and it was a horrible experience. Cold hurt (no ice cream) and the only thing that worked for me was warm drinks so my mom actually made a hot jello drink. I still crave them: essentially add boiling water to about three tablespoons of your favorite jello flavor and drink. Strange huh?

                                                                      Do you like hot milk? I love hot milk with vanilla and sugar or honey. You could keep a carton in the fridge at work and even infuse it with some interesting add-ins once you heat it in the microwave. Of course, after hot milk I'd want a nap.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: krissywats

                                                                        Yay, krissywats... where ya been, girl?!? Yeah, I have tummy troubles often, (stress, I think) so I'm thinking the ginger will be good for me in general. I haven't had jello in ages, so I might have to try that... I really only liked it when I was little for swishing through my teeth, so that might be the way to go!

                                                                        1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                          Hot jello . . . your nails will thank you. (g)

                                                                      2. I was going to say port or whisky, but probably not for the office. Maybe cranberry juice or lemonade? I find most juices too cloying on their own. There's always mulled cider.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                          some malt, some hops, strain/cool, add yeast, wait a few weeks.

                                                                          Schizandra berries make a nice tart bev, good chi tonic.

                                                                        2. hot water and a heaping teaspoon of marmite = a lovely savoury drink that also cuts hunger pangs well

                                                                          I'm always up for lots of lemon, lots of cayenne and a dab of honey in hot water too

                                                                          1. mint. just fresh regular mint, pour over boiling water and leave to steep. I leave the mint leaves in, don't bother with sugar and get wierd looks as the pot plant on my desk gets gradually more decrepid!