This is the season when it's common for throats to get irritated from constant coughing, and when tea sweetened with honey is an appealing way to soothe sore throats and flu symptoms.
Honey has traditionally been considered a healthful ingredient, with an important proviso: It should not be fed to infants under 1 year of age.
According to the National Honey Board, this is because honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores that can cause infant botulism, which is a rare disease that affects the nervous system of young babies.
The Honey Board advises:
Do not dip your baby's pacifier in honey.
Do not give your baby honey as medicine.
Do not add honey to your baby's food, water or formula.
But for the rest of us, the "safety of honey as a food for older children and adults remains unquestioned," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This recipe for a spicy tea is made with honey, lemon, and either echinacea _ an herb with claims to being an immune booster _ or the classic chamomile tea.
Spiced Honey Tea
For each mug:
1 tea bag, echinacea or chamomile, as desired
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Preparation time: 5 minutes.
Place tea bag, cinnamon and cloves in a mug. Fill } full with boiling water and let steep for 5 minutes.
Remove cinnamon and cloves and stir in honey and lemon juice.
Add 1 tablespoon orange juice to each mug.
Add 2 tablespoons rum or whiskey to each mug for a "Hot Toddy" version.
Source: National Honey Board.