Coworkers typically share their colds, but lucky for me, my desk mate gave me the cure for it instead. The name—invincibilitea—is corny. The taste is not for the faint of heart. But the spicy, garlicky brew has become my silver bullet for cold and flu season. At the first sign of sickness, I put on a pot of invincibilitea and sip it for the next few days. Taken while sick, the tea helps knock out cold symptoms and kickstart your body’s recovery; taken preventatively, the tea beefs up your immune system so you can ward off illness—all courtesy of a few ingredients you can pick up on your next grocery run.

Photography by Paul Mehaffey


This brown root is a sickness-fighting superstar with anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties. Ginger promotes good circulation, helps clear respiratory passages, soothes the stomach and throat, and is considered a natural fever and pain reducer.


Raw garlic packs a powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal punch, thanks to a compound called allicin that gets activated when the clove is crushed. Fresh garlic stimulates the body’s immune response and has been called a “natural antibiotic.” Studies even show that regular allicin consumption reduced the risk of getting a cold by 64 percent.


These slices of sunshine are high in vitamin C, which boosts the immune system, and potassium, which helps reduce free radicals and create infection-fighting white blood cells. Better yet, lemon is an alkaline food that helps bring the body’s pH level back in balance where pathogens and bacteria can’t survive.


Used as medicinal food for centuries around the world, turmeric boasts a compound called curcumin, which has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric has also been shown to inhibit the growth of viruses, making this potent yellow spice a key player in natural remedies.


The kick this little pepper delivers is worth it because cayenne is a powerful decongestant and expectorant, helping to thin mucus. In addition to stimulating detoxifying lymphatic and circulatory activity, the hot pepper can reduce fever by bringing your body temperature down.


It’s probably no surprise that raw honey also contains antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. Plus, local honey can help shield you from seasonal allergies. Its thick, syrup-like quality soothes sore throats, providing a welcome wink of sweetness to hot toddies and teas.

Yield: Approx 2 quarts


8 cups water
1 medium hand ginger, sliced
1 head garlic, peeled and smashed
2–3 fingers fresh turmeric root, sliced or 1 ½ Tbs. ground turmeric
2 organic lemons, sliced
Pinch of cayenne (optional)


1. Add all ingredients except water to a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pot. Pour the water over and stir.

2. Bring to a boil, and then immediately reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

3. Pour hot tea through a mesh strainer into quart jars or containers for storing. If desired, return the strained ingredients to the pot, add fresh water, and repeat the process for another batch of tea.

4. Sweeten with honey to taste and serve tea hot or cold. Refrigerate (or freeze!) leftover tea for future servings.