The Garcia effect (or: The health benefits of ginger lemon honey tea)

Has anyone of you ever had that experience when you can’t eat something any more, because of a negative association? For example, if you once get absolutely smashed on, say, rosé, and you get so drunk that you end the night violently ill, draped over your (or even worse, someone else’s) toilet, there’s a chance you won’t enjoy rosé any more afterwards. Similarly, if any given dish gets you food poisoning, chances are that you’ll never eat that dish again, no matter how fond of it you were before. This is known as the Garcia effect, after Dr. John Garcia, one of the first people to notice this effect and experiment with it.

I used to drink quite a lot of ginger, lemon and honey tea when I was in India. It’s a great drink: sweet but aromatic at the same time, hot, yet refreshing. Just the thing you need on a hot, sweaty day. However, one day, after I got back to the Netherlands and had made some myself, someone said they thought it was “a perfect drink for when you’re sick, seems like the perfect flu medicine” and I never had it again after that. The association with sick people, runny noses, being coughed in the face was immediately evoked by that seemingly innocuous comment, probably because it actually made a lot of sense to drink this as a cold or flu remedy. The drink suddenly didn’t appeal to me any more. As of that day, I thought of it as a flu remedy, and who drinks flu remedies whilst perfectly healthy? That would be like having cough medicine when you don’t have a cough and that’s just silly.

By telling you this anecdote, there’s a serious risk of doing the same to you. What a shame, because it’s really good. Thankfully, it’s February, the time of self-pity and minor ailments. I picked up a nasty cold last weekend and of course there’s nothing wrong with drinking a cold remedy when you’ve actually got a cold! Time for ginger lemon honey tea.

I feel like a bit of a fraud for publishing such a simple recipe, but it seems that not all that many people know this one yet so I think I can get away with it.

For one cup (which, in my case, contains about 350 ml) you’ll need approximately:

  • 1,5 cm or 20 gr of ginger
  • a fairly sized wedge of lemon
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of clear, runny honey

About the ginger, I always keep mine in the freezer. After it defrosts, it’s always a lot softer than before and the juice comes right out. I’m not sure why and real chefs might condemn me for it, but it’s perfect for the tea, because it means you can use less ginger and get more flavour. If yours is fresh, you might have to use more.

Slice the skin off the ginger, then slice the chunk into thin strips. (Cutting with the fibre is easiest.) Then take a wedge of lemon, first squeeze some juice out into the cup and then add the chunk itself as well. Add honey, to taste, of course, I use about 3 teaspoons. Add boiling water, leave for a couple of minutes and enjoy, now with a nasty cold, or in summer to ward off the heat.

Oh look, it's all sliced up.

Oh look, a wedge of lemon.


Look, it's bits of ginger, floating in a cup.


About La dittatrice

After years of being based in Glasgow, I've recently made a home for myself in Turin, Italy, for the time being, at least. This blog is my captain's log. Here I note down what I did, and what I ate. A story, then a recipe. That's how this here works. Updates on Wednesdays.
This entry was posted in Drinks, Food, Sweets and desserts, Vegetarian and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Garcia effect (or: The health benefits of ginger lemon honey tea)

  1. Pingback: Terrified of lentils | La dittatrice della cucina

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