I learned this from a friend of my dad’s who was an Indian guy living in Fiji when we lived there. We always got sick on the plane coming over, a cold or whatever. It works—makes you feel much better, makes being sick much less awful, and it tastes good, I drink it when I’m feeling okay, too.
If you feel like you’re getting a cold, you go to an Indian market and you buy these things to make tea and then I’ll tell you what to do with them. I guess it’s really an infusion, not a tea, but anyway.
So first you buy whole cloves. These are the most important and if you can’t find anything else they’ll help some. They have a slight numbing quality—dentists use eugenol, which is clove oil—and they’re also pretty antibacterial—and then you take like twelve cloves and twelve peppercorns, black peppercorns for sneezing, for your sinuses, a couple of bruised cardamom pods—they make you cough stuff up—and some fennel seeds, like a couple of big pinches, it also, like, loosens phlegm, there’s a thing in it that they isolate to make cough medicine—and a cinnamon stick because I don’t know, it’s supposed to be warming. I think mostly it just tastes really good in there. You put in some sliced fresh ginger to clear your sinuses and maybe a slice of lemon or a little honey and you pour boiling water over it all and let it sit for a while. Then drink it. And you can re-infuse it a few times. The ginger and fennel make it good for stomach stuff, too.
If you can’t get this stuff, just go order a chai tea with no milk. It’s a lot of the same stuff. But this is better.
I had actually recently heard about a similar version of this cold remedy, and it seems the use of cloves and peppercorns in a tea-like infusion is a popular way to treat cold symptoms.