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Hot Drink Cure

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"Perhaps warm milk? Warm milk with honey to soothe the throat."
The Chef, Little Princess, "I Want My Voice Back"

Oh no! Somebody's unwell! Or maybe they're injured or have strained their throat. What do you do? Well according to this trope, you offer them a hot drink.

Usually it's tea, especially herbal tea. Occasionally it's warm milk, although that's more commonly associated with helping people go to sleep. It's also often boiled honey and lemon water if the character has any disease with a sore throat as a symptom, because honey really does help soothe sore throats, and lemons contain nutrients that can help the immune system. It may also be heated alcohol. On rare occasions, it's hot chocolate (which is more associated with warming up and/or having fun), and it's hardly ever coffee.

The character offering the hot drink is often very amicable and nurturing and could be the Team Mom. They might also be a Nature Lover and/or an expert on plants or nature in general if the drink is made of natural ingredients (which it often is). The drink might also be an old family recipe.


The drink itself usually tastes either very good or very bad, and it is not a Healing Potion but rather a normal drink, although sometimes healing potions might be poured into these drinks (sometimes overlapping with Slipping a Mickey), invoking a practical version of the trope. Sometimes zigzagged with the Catch Your Death Of Cold trope, where it's hard to tell if the hot drink is to warm them up or to treat the cold or both. Hot drinks that are explicitly to warm people up don't count unless the person has full-blown hypothermia. Neither do cases where the character is just unhappy or tired.

There is a grain of truth to this trope: if somebody has a minor illness, such as a cold, having a hot drink might help them stay hydrated and satisfy any chills they might have; the warm vapor from the drink might also loosen nasal congestion. However, it won't actually get rid of the disease, and if someone is seriously ill or injured, it's best to get a doctor. And of course, it's even more justified in the hypothermia instances as hypothermia outright comes from being cold, but simply warming the person up with no medical attention only works in mild cases and in severe cases, you should really let a doctor take over as warming them up too quickly could send them into shock, which could even kill them.


Compare Foot Bath Treatment, Soup Is Medicine, and Illness Blanket for other medical idiosyncrasies. Can overlap with Spot of Tea if it's associated with Britain and tea. See also Healing Herb, which could be an ingredient. May overlap with That Old-Time Prescription. If the drink is a Magic Antidote (i.e. it works instantly) but it's supposed to be a normal drink, it's overlapping with Hyperactive Metabolism. Sometimes overlaps with New Technology is Evil if the drink is said to be better than regular medicine. Compare I Need a Freaking Drink when a character turns to a harder beverage for comfort.


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    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • The Lord of the Rings fanfiction:
    • In Fall, Legolas has been beaten up, so Aragorn and Gimli give him tea.
    • In The Falls, Legolas (again) is served lemon tea to help with his sore throat.
    • This happens to Legolas for a third time in A New Feeling: Sickness, although played with because it's actually an allergic reaction they're treating. Legolas is allergic to some nuts, which make him have cramps and throw up among other symptoms, so Aragorn feeds him herbal tea.
    • It happens to Legolas yet again in Resting, when he has a cold note and they give him herbal tea.
    • Happens to Frodo (for a change) in A Little Walk, when he gets sick due to a combination of being out in the rain and being thrown in jail (It Makes Sense in Context), and is given both soup and tea to help him get better.
    • In Keep Him Secret, Keep Him Safe, Aragorn is given a drink of beef, herbs and salt to stop him from getting dehydrated from his illness.
    • In Splashing and Spluttering, Pippin and Gimli are both given hot drinks after falling into the river and getting chilled.
    • In Baggins of Hobbiton, Frodo is given hot tea after falling through an icy pond, then later that evening is given tea with honey to help his sore throat.
    • In What Needs Looking After, Frodo makes Sam a hot drink of mint and laurel with honey when the latter gets a cold.
    • In Chapter 22 of Episodes From Middle Earth, Dori makes Bilbo medical tea when the hobbit gets sick from being underground for too long.
      • In Chapter 28 of the same story, Kili and Fili give Bilbo tea while he is suffering from a cold.
    • In Rising in Spring, Frodo makes chamomile tea with honey for a sick Sam.
    • In I Always Know You, Merry is given herbal tea to help his sore throat when he gets sick.
    • In Noble Soul, Aragorn makes a special athelas tea for Boromir and the hobbits when they fall into a lake and get wet.
  • In the Inside Out fanfic Feeling Better, Riley gets sick and drinks "enough tea to choke a Brit".
  • In the fifth chapter of the Transformers fanfic Protector, Starscream is given a cup of copper cocoa to help him calm down and warm up after he hears Enforcer sirens and has a flashback to the night he was almost sold by slavers.
  • In the last drabble of A Drabble a Day Keeps the Bonstys Away, Slickis offers to make Ickis a mug of hot unleaded crude oil after the latter falls through an icy pond and catches a cold.
  • In The Second Older Brother, Wakko makes peppermint tea for a sick Dot to help her get over her cold.
  • In A Rainy December, Arnold makes Helga chicken noodle soup and lemon tea when she gets sick. She returns the favour by making him vegetable soup and warm milk with honey when HE gets sick.
  • Happens by accident in Java - while trying to come up with an idea for a new coffee recipe, Brain is duped into mixing Tabasco sauce, chilli powder and cayenne pepper with coffee. It's accidentally served to a customer...who loves it, because he's been suffering from a horrible cold all week, and the spicy coffee cleared his sinuses.
  • In Sun and Ice, Arthur falls into an icy pond and is pulled out by Antonio, who takes him back to his caravan and gives him hot chocolate to help him warm up.
  • In Simple Gifts, Sherlock Holmes gives Doctor Watson a cup of weak tea to help him shake off the flu.

    Films — Animation 
  • Mentioned by Captain Amelia on Treasure Planet after her longboat took a hit from the ship's deck gun. After a sloppy landing, she emerges from the overturned craft wincing in pain. As Doctor Doppler and Jim Hawkins try to assist her, Captain Amelia dismisses their aid, claiming, "A spot of tea, and I'll be right as rain." This brave facade is belied immediately when she mistakes Doppler for Hawkins.
  • The Simpsons Movie: When Homer is rescued from the freezing cold by an old Inuit woman, she feeds him a boiling-hot bowl of liquid. He leaps up screaming and breathing fire before asking for more.
  • In the Gumby movie, the titular character and his three new bandmates, the Clayboys are kidnapped by the Blockheads and rendered unconscious by freezing them in a cell. When Gumby's friends arrive to save them, Goo revives Gumby with a mug of hot soup, and Prickle turns up the cell's thermostat.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Little Women, Amy is sulking because her cold means she's not allowed to go to a play with her two oldest sisters. Beth, the third sister, promises to make her some ginger tea.
  • In Madeline, Ms. Clavel suspects that Madeline is sick, and orders her to drink tea (as well as stay under the covers and eat soup.)

  • Implied in Dear Substitute which shows the teacher lying in bed with tea, but she's never outright stated to be sick.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg gets sick and he talks about how the only good thing about being sick is having someone fuss over you. The illustration shows Greg sick and his mother handing him a hot cup of something, saying, "Are you strong enough to hold this cup?".
  • In the second Doctor Dog book, Gerty Gumboyle gets given ginger tea to help with her motion sickness. As an interesting bit of trivia, ginger does indeed help get rid of nausea sometimes.
  • The Haunted Hotel: Lord Montbarry, suffering from a cold, sends out his courier for lemons to make hot lemonade... and unwittingly sets off a chain of events that lead to both men's deaths.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: In the first book of The Collegium Chronicles, a severe blizzard hits Haven. Some people caught in the storm barely make it to shelter in time, and among other hypothermia treatments are given hot (and alcoholic) drinks.
  • In Madeline's Rescue, after Madeline almost drowns in the Seine, Miss Clavel puts her to bed and gives her chamomile tea.
  • In the Morris The Moose book "Morris Has a Cold", Boris makes Morris tea to help with his cold.
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit ends with the sick Peter being given chamomile tea by his mother.
  • The Talisman: After Jack catches a cold, which he gradually develops a fever as a result ofnote , Wolf offers him a hot drink containing herbs he gathered. Jack is quite reluctant to drink it, and it tastes awful, but it does the trick and his condition improves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adventures in Wonderland
  • Evoked in A Christmas Carol: The Musical: When Bob Cratchit asks to go home from work early on Christmas Eve to be with his sick son Tiny Tim, Scrooge coldly retorts "I suggest Tiny Tim drink tea." Of course this is before the ghosts teach him that Tim's illness isn't the kind that tea can cure.
  • Clarissa Explains It All:
    • In "Janet and Clarissa Inc.," Marshall and Ferguson both have tonsillitis and drink tea throughout the episode.
    • In "The Flu," the sick Janet drinks tea with a towel over her head to breathe in the steam and clear her sinuses. When Clarissa starts showing symptoms near the end, she tries to quickly cure herself by doing the same thing, but it doesn't work.
  • Doctor Who: "The Christmas Invasion" uses this trope rather uniquely. The Doctor, suffering from severe regeneration sickness, is unconscious and can't be woken up. What fixes him up? Breathing in evaporated tea that dripped onto one of the lights beneath the TARDIS' floor. Only with Bizarre Alien Biology, folks!
  • His Dark Materials: In "The Daemon Cages", Mrs. Coulter gives Lyra an infusion of Chamomile in order to calm her nerves after she was nearly sliced away from Pan.
  • Home Improvement: In the episode "Eye On Tim", Jill has a bad cold, and Wilson makes her what he describes as "the quintessential hot toddy": his own special blend of lemon, honey, and oak-barrel Scotch whisky. It gets her drunk.
  • Defied in an episode of M*A*S*H where Hawkeye tries to convince the British medics not to give tea to patients with abdominal wounds, which can make things worse.
    • Defied again in another episode where Major Winchester, with a toothache but desperately trying to avoid seeing a dentist, tries a vile concoction of roots, herbs and assorted vegetables that is an alleged Korean folk remedy. It does absolutely nothing for his toothache, but makes the surrounding ground around The Swamp smell horrible, after he throws the remainder out, unimpressed by its lack of efficacy and repelled by its taste.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Ensign Ro", Picard offers Admiral Kennelly — who is suffering a cold-like Cardassian virus — a cup of ginger tea with honey at 80°C, which he states was his Aunt Adele's home remedy for the common cold.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine features a hot alcoholic drink called Fanalian toddy. When Leeta gets a crush on Dr. Bashir, she pretends to be sick to get his attention. He is not fooled but jokingly offers her the toddy to make her "better".
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Seven of Nine is changing personality all the timeWhy?  and Neelix hears that there is something wrong with her, assumes she's sick, and suggests using tea from his home planet to cure her.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Puzzle Place: In the episode "I Love Kiki," when Kiki tries to talk to Julie but can't get any sound to come out, Julie assumes she has a sore throat and gives her herbal tea with honey. This does no good, though, because Kiki's throat is fine: she's just scared to admit to Julie that she broke her toy horse.
  • Under the Umbrella Tree: In the episode, "Hamster Hullabaloo," part of Gloria, Iggy and Jacob's efforts to keep Holly from finding out that Henry the hamster got loose involves Gloria pretending to have a cold. Holly goes to the kitchen to get her a cup of hot lemonade and a cookie to go with it... and finds Henry in the cookie jar.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • The veterinarian from Freefall checks a soggy and wounded Florence Ambrose, and finds her body temperature to be a worrisome 31 degrees Celsius. The doc prepares a warm bath and a warm drink to raise Florence's temperature back to normal, beginning at strip #365.
  • Jailbird: In Chapter 3, Osprey brews a batch of herbal "Throat Soother" for the titular character, who lost their voice from overuse. Because plants are inherently magical in this world, so is the drink. There is even a cute recipe given for the drink.
  • My Milk Toof: In the "Sweet Wilting Tree" story, Lardee gives a wilting tree warm milk tea with lots of sugar to make it feel better.

    Web Original 
  • Neopets:
    • The disease Bubbles (a disease that involves hiccuping bubbles) can be cured with a certain herbal drink that's served in a mug.
    • The disease Neoblues (whose symptoms mirror depression but it's a contagious disease) can potentially be cured with green tea.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In the opening scene of "Is There A Doctor in the House?" (the episode where Arthur and D.W.'s parents both get sick), Jane tries to drink a cup of tea to help her sore throat. The morning's chaos gives her no time, though, and she's forced to pour it down the drain.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, in Book 2, after Zuko encounters Azula, in which Iroh is hit by her lightning strike, Zuko treats his uncle's injuries; one of which is by attempting to brew some tea for him, with emphasis on attempting.
  • In the Katie and Orbie episode "Sore Throat", Katie is given a hot lemony drink to help her sore throat.
  • In The Koala Brothers episode "Ned Catches a Cold", Ned's friends give him a hot drink with honey and lemon to help him with his cold. Later, when Mitzi catches a cold, they give her the same drink.
  • In the Little Princess episode "I Want My Voice Back", the princess loses her voice and is offered warm milk and honey. She is reluctant to drink it, but when she does, she instantly gets her voice back.
  • Madeline:
    • In Madeline's Rescue, as in the book and live-action film, Miss Clavel gives Madeline chamomile tea after she almost drowns in the Seine.
    • In Madeline's Christmas, when Miss Clavel and all the girls except Madeline catch a cold, one of Madeline's many duties while taking care of them involves bringing them tea and warm milk.
  • In the Milly, Molly episode "Class Concert", Molly loses her voice and Aunt Maude prescribes a "special cure" that is a hot drink to be drunk at bedtime that's a mixture of honey, lemons, and ginger. It works.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Three's a Crowd", Discord fakes having the "blue flu" and claims (in song) to need many things to cure him, including tea with honey.
  • In this Finnish animation, a bear falls into icy water and is given a hot drink, a Foot Bath Treatment and an Illness Blanket after being rescued.

    Real Life 
  • The Hot Toddy is a popular drink used to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. It consists of hot tea mixed with honey, lemon, and brown liquor (usually some variety of whiskey but sometimes rum or brandy are used). The hot liquid and honey both work to soothe a sore throat. The alcohol helps ease the aches and pains associated with mild illness and makes it easier to sleep, which speeds up recovery time.
    • In Russia a traditional variation of this folk remedy is a raspberry tea — a good measure of raspberry jam dissolved in a mug of hot tea (and the tea is actually optional), possibly with measure of some liquor, often herbal balsam, as it's believed that raspberry has anti-fever properties.
  • Traditional medicine in many parts of the world prominently involves teas made from roots, leaves, bark etc said to heal various ailments. While many have dubious medical value, others have been adapted by science-based medicine (i.e. willow bark tea to aspirin).
  • Tea, and green tea in particular, experienced a surge in popularity in the 2010s in North America due to its supposed health benefits, notably its high antioxidant content.
  • TheraFlu is a beverage which combines elements of medicine and hot tea and comes in different varieties intended to help with symptoms of cold and flu.
  • George MacDonald Fraser repeatedly asserted that in the British Army, a hot sweet cup of tea is the remedy for all ills except perhaps a bullet through the stomach - and he isn't sure about this last proviso. The British military's enthusiasm for A Spot Of Tea does have practical benefits, however, being both a good prophylatic against hypothermia and a good incentive to make sure the water has been boiled properly.
  • Grog, or rum mixed with lemon or lime juice in hot water or milknote , was used by the British Navy to ward off scurvy.
  • There is, of course, the ancient urban legend that states that St. Bernard dogs treated hypothermia patients with warm brandy, famously represented by little barrels tied around their necks. Not only is this something that never happened in the entire history of using St. Bernards as rescue dogs, it was determined by researchers of all types (including the MythBusters) that brandy is a very bad (even dangerous) fluid to give hypothermia sufferers because it has the side-effect of making veins expand, which worsens the human body's capacity to hold in heat.
  • Many professional singers and speakers swear by hot tea with honey and lemon for soothing a strained throat or even treating a case of laryngitis. Andy Serkis used a variant that he called "Gollum Juice" (with ginger instead of tea) while working on The Lord of the Rings. He claims he drank it "by the bucketload" every day, saving his voice.
  • Lemsip (and unbranded equivalents) is a common cold and flu medication containing paracetamol which is designed to be taken in the form of a hot drink (it comes as sachets of powder to which you add hot, but not boiling, water).
  • In Asia, ginger tea is an ideal drink for cold weather and is a remedy against sore throats due to the spiciness of the ginger root.
  • Black coffee is a popular folk remedy for sobering a person up, but the only real remedy for alcohol intoxication is time.


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