Great Hot Drinks Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Great Hot Drinks

105 Conversations

Though it might seem unlikely, there has to be more to this subject than just coffee and tea. For a start there's hot chocolate. Then there's a hot toddy - perfect for staving off a cold. And then there's... erm...

Okay, this is where the h2g2 Editors 'fess up - we suggested that this might be a fun collaborative topic as a bit of a joke. But we were suitably humbled by the responses. So if you're struggling to think of alternatives yourself, then we're proud to say that the h2g2 Community can help you out. We start with the basics - which are not as basic as might first appear.

For instance...


After a hot day in the desert there's nothing more refreshing than a nice cup of hot, sweet mint tea - ask any Moroccan. In colder climes, however, a cup of English Breakfast Tea with a slug of Scotch is very nice; we have it on good account that it ends up tasting like rich fruit cake. Rooibos tea is only grown in South Africa, but it has been described by one Researcher at least as 'the miracle of the century'. It can be drunk hot, cold, with/without milk, sugar and lemon. But this is not a reason to call it a miracle. The secret lies in the anti-oxidants. It is the main ingredient of (skincare range) Annique and it can also be used to soothe stomach cramps and colicky babies.

And that's just for starters.

Go Green!

My personal favourite hot drink is green tea, in all varieties and forms. It's not really to everyone's taste. Green tea is normally drunk without milk or sugar, and tastes a little like bitter black tea. Adding some honey is normally nice if you have a sweet tooth. I'm also very fond of Bengali spice tea. Has anyone else tried that?

Spice Tea

This should actually be called 'Spice Brew' but that conjures up images of witches' cauldrons. It's just that in this case the actual tea is optional. First, you'll need a cinnamon stick - don't use powder as it goes slimy - a piece of ginger root and a few cloves in a teapot and add boiling water. That's all you basically need but you can modify it any way you like. Great to warm you up on a cold day, break a fever or help you recover from hypothermia, you can add (or add it to) milk and/or cream or lemon juice and/or other citrus or other fruit juices (though dairy and fruit together are not recommended unless you like cheese in your tea).

In cases of hypothermia, you may want to add sugar of some sort, or a pinch of nutmeg. As long as you use the three basic spices, though, it'll be good. If it's too strong, add more boiling water; too weak; let it brew on low heat for a while.


I tried this traditional Andean drink when I was in Ecuador. It's made with cinnamon tea with Naranjilla and sugar and aguardiente (fire water - fermented sugar cane juice, such as Cristal). In bars in the city it's quite palatable, usually made with factory-produced liquor, but in villages when it's made with homemade liquor it can knock you off your feet.


Jasmine tea is quite possibly one of the most refreshing hot drinks on the planet, and certainly the most relaxing. Strictly speaking it is Chinese green tea with Jasmine blossom. It is also the indicator that you have found a very good Chinese restaurant, the reason for this being is that the management will give you a small cup of jasmine tea when you sit down for two reasons. Firstly, to thank you for coming, and also to cleanse your palate for the meal ahead. It has a highly refreshing taste and flavour which although some may find very slightly bitter, is not unpleasant. Also it has been noted that in large amounts it has a highly relaxing quality that has been known to make people listen to Pink Floyd and lose the ability to remember names, thus calling everyone 'man'. It can be found at any place that sells specialist teas, or if in doubt, go to a good Chinese eating emporium.

Black Tea Chai

Here's a handy recipe for your very own Black tea:

  • 160g - Black tea (recommended is a Persian tea called Al-Waza)
  • 10g - Cardamom pods
  • 5g - Cloves
  • 10g - Nutmeg
  • 10g - Coriander
  • 5g - Ginger
  • 5g - Black pepper

Crush all of the spices up together in a grinder or mortar and pestle and mix them up with the tea leaves. Use about a teaspoon per cup, add hot water and - bingo! Black tea chai!

Kashmiri Tea

Finally for this entry, we look at Kashmiri tea called Kehva, which is tea with cardamom, cinnamon, almond, saffron and honey instead of sugar.

In India, you will find milk stalls on the streets of a busy market, where you can relish sweet hot milk with lots of cream and dry fruits in it, sprinkled with cardamom powder and saffron. Which makes a hot drink that is rich in calcium, vitamins and fats as well.


Of course, there are some great hot drinks that are... well, too great. As this personal experience illustrates.

Don't get me wrong, I love coffee, however, This is the only non-alcoholic drink I'm aware of that can make you feel just as bad as a night on the good stuff.
Think about it. You can drink all types of tea, fruit tea, mint tea, jasmine tea, green tea, every colour of the rainbow tea, hot chocolate drinks (excluding those that contain caffeine), Bovril, Horlicks, whatever your choice may be, but none can cause the same effects of drinking too much coffee.
It begins innocently enough, you can't stop your mind contemplating the mysteries of the universe, thinking about some useless piece of information you read, or heard about three years ago. After this initial mind altering state you continue to drink it, it's addictive - I know! Nothing can stop you. You must have more!
Next comes the strange, but mildly amusing shakes! This is when most of us think 'I've had enough'. For those who don't think this, the next stage gets a bit hard to deal with, the caffeine headache! It starts as a mild annoyance in the front of the brain and continues to get stronger until you can hardly see straight. This is the point at which bed is required!
... except it's got you! You cannot sleep! You lie there suffering and you can do nothing about it but ride it out. I'd like to point out that even with copious amounts of alcohol you do not suffer this indignity, you lie down, you sleep, you wake up the next day, hung over maybe, but at least you slept through the worst of it.
Here's the clincher. The next day you are tired, you can hardly stay awake. What do you do? Drink a cup of coffee!
What is it about this miraculous drink that keeps us coming back for more. It is as addictive as heroin with the effects of a night of drinking on the town and yet we can't stop! Do we ban it, I think not. The entire IT industry would collapse around our ears over night. The black market on coffee would be worth billions within a year! Of course, I'm biased towards it, I am addicted.

Ahem. Someone has the DTs there...

The Cafe Latté

Using a cappuccino machine, fill the coffee canteen right up almost to the top. Allow coffee to filter through - use good espresso coffee. Froth milk and pour into cup, froth quite a bit of milk at once and you make less froth, as a latté should be. Also make it strong - it tastes a treat. For the best cafe lattés and cappuccinos, cups similar to the size of Lake Titicaca would be recommended. Naturally with a chocolate sprinkle - preferably freshly-grated chocolate.

The best place I've ever had a Latte in the UK is between Mullion Village and Mullion Cove on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. They're fantastic and they serve it with two locally-made chocolate mints, which my husband happily devours! Yum!


The Perfect Instant!

There's a fair bit of snobbery against instant coffee, but that could well be to do with the way instant coffee is made and served up. Rushed, without passion and loaded with feelings of guilt. At least, that's what the advertisers of expensive coffee brands might like you to think. But wait - help is at hand...

Take your coffee, one heaped spoonful. You can adjust this according to your taste buds, and though you might prefer the golden flake-type of coffees, but this works as well with normal boring coffee granules. Now if you take your coffee with milk, add the milk at this stage and give it a little mix into the coffee mixture. If you take your coffee black then add a little cold water and stir it in. Now add sugar or sweetener if you desire and give that a little stir. By now you will have boiled the kettle and given it a moment or two to go off the boil. Now, with teaspoon in major hand and kettle in other, pour and stir, pour and stir until your cup is full. Then continue to stir until all the little granules have been dissolved into your lovely smooth-tasting mug of instant coffee.

Never ever pour boiling water directly onto coffee! The coffee will burn and not only taste yuk, but it isn't that good for you either! Tea, however, works the other way around, pour boiling water onto tea leaves and don't forget to warm the pot.

Irish Coffee

As you'll slowly discover, there's a tendency to suggest lacing hot drinks with something alcoholic. Inevitably, the hard-partying Irish get the blame, regardless of the nationality of whoever suggested it in the first place. It all comes down to the innocent little Irish coffee. Which you can make in a number of ways...

There is some debate on the main ingredients. For example:

  • Fresh ground coffee
  • Brown sugar lumps (2 heaped teaspoons)
  • Cream
  • Whiskey

For this method, put a little coffee in the bottom of a glass and add some whiskey. Pop the sugar lumps in the coffee, and stir still melted. Fill the rest of the glass up with coffee, wait for it to settle so it looks rather like Guinness from a distance, then on the back of a warm spoon, slowly pour the cream over it, then sit back, drink and enjoy.

This drink has its origins in the early days of transatlantic air travel: being handed to passengers staggering off a plane that had itself staggered as far as Ireland. It was reasoned that both passengers and plane needed refuelling to complete their journey to England, however, the plane had to make do with petrol.

As ever, nothing good remains uncopied, and most restaurants now offer a variety of 'nationality' coffees where the whiskey has been exchanged for some other appropriate spirits.

Cold Cures

Take one pint glass and add two huge dollops of runny honey to the juice of half a lemon. Fill the glass up with hot water and the magic ingredient - one drop of tea tree oil1. The results feel almost instantaneous!! It's a whiz!


  • Take a mug and boil the kettle.

  • Lay your hands on some raspberries. Frozen will do but fresh are better. Take a generous handful (defrost if necessary) and crush in the bottom of the mug to make a rough purée.

  • Add a really good glug of framboise or vodka depending on your taste and a teaspoon of honey.

  • Add hot water to taste and drink.

Or even...

  • Cut an orange in two (preferably an organic one).

  • Cover it with water in a saucepan.

  • Boil thoroughly and then eat the orange, peel and all while still fairly hot.

Here is where thoughts differ. Some say drink the hot liquid on its own; others say add your favourite alcohol like rum or rye whiskey. Either way it is supposed to cure a cold in a not too unpleasant way.

In fact there are many alternatives to 'curing' a cold. Most of them involve citrus fruits, the best ones involve... yes, alcohol. Okay, so we have a bunch of lushes involved in this entry. But if you want to do things properly, it has to be one drink in particular...

Hot Toddy

For this, you will need:

  • Hot water
  • Sugar (2 teaspoons)
  • Whisk(e)y or brandy
  • Lemon
  • Whole cloves

Put the whiskey in the glass, mix a small amount of hot water in the glass and the sugar, stir until melted, then top the glass up. With the lemon, cut a slice off, get the whole cloves, and stick about five cloves in the lemon, then pop it into the glass.

This is pretty much a universal cure-all, too, according to DC Jarvis' classic book Folk Medicine, which I am halfway through reading at present. Based upon his work as a doctor among the people of Vermont, Dr Jarvis advocates the use of apple cider in various forms to cure everything from abscesses to arthritis. I think it tastes great, too, specially with a slug of honey...
... Not to mention a slug of applejack or calvados. Am I the alcoholic in this group? I keep suggesting adding booze to things.

Hmm. Yes, it has been noted - and you're not the only one.

A Hangover Cure

Here's a great morning drink if you've gone in a little heavy on the old sauce the night before, or generally anyone suffering from nausea.

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 sliced ginger root
  • Honey to taste

Um... 'Meat Juice'

Alluded to earlier, it's perfect on cold winter days, full of that good stuff your mum always told you about and... and ... it comes from meat.

My mother always used to drink a cup of hot Bovril if she was tired or feeling a bit ill. Stir a big spoonful of Bovril into hot water, and there you go! Very easy, low in calories and nutritious.

Vanilla and Soya Milk?

One of my favourite hot drinks is a vanilla-flavoured drink made with soya milk. It tastes like custard.
  • 250 ml unsweetened soya milk
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar2
  • Grated nutmeg

Put the soya milk in a mug and microwave on full power for one and a half minutes. Stir in the vanilla sugar and sprinkle with nutmeg (preferably freshly grated).

Insomniacs Brew

This one will send you to sleep - in a good way. Pour a cup full of milk into a milk pan (this is nicer than the microwave!), add two generous tea spoons of soft brown sugar, then give it a good stir. Add a drop or two of vanilla essence (not flavouring - must be the real thing). Bring up to the boil and then add a good splodge of Irish cream, which gives it a lovely bananary smell. Pour the lot into a large mug and grate nutmeg over the top! Enjoy! You'll be asleep in minutes!

Chocoholics Insomniacs Brew

If you fancy a chocolatey version to the above, leave a little cold milk in your mug and mix in a couple of teaspoons of drinking chocolate powder till it makes a paste and then stir the milk into the paste.

Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate makes a great drink on a cold winter's day, or whenever you're feeling a little under the weather. However, hot chocolate comes in several different forms. There's instant hot chocolate, which is great if you need something sweet without much of a wait. Then there's hot chocolate which needs to be mixed with milk, perfect for in the evening. Then there's cocoa, the perfect drink for the depths of winter.

If you prefer your hot chocolate sweet, instead of using sugar, try adding a few spoonfuls of golden syrup or honey. This avoids a sickly sweet drink, and adds more flavour. However, to make hot chocolate a real delight, mix in a good number of marshmallows, top with squirty cream and add some chocolate sprinkles. As you drink your mug full of hot chocolate with a spoon you can feel your cares melt away.

Mulled Wine

The biggie. You can make this by taking a bottle of cheap house red and pouring it into a pan. Heat it gently, adding slices of orange and lemon, cinnamon, cloves (and other herbs and spices to your taste) and simmer until it dissolves down a little. Alternatively, you can buy little teabag style sachets for adding to wine to mull it. Very warming on a cold day.

Considered to have medicinal qualities, mulled wine was typically drunk around Christmas or New Year's to ensure good health, eternal youth and long life. One of the earliest names for the drink is Wassail derived from the Saxon greeting 'wes hail' meaning good health. The ingredients included ale, brandy, apples, eggs, sugar and spices were heated and placed in a wooden bowl which was then carried from house to house. In medieval times, mulled wine was thought to be healthy and was named after the physician Hippocrates while in the 1500s, cookbooks listed recipes of mulling using honey, cinnamon, cardamom and galingale. In Victorian England, Negus - a type of mulled wine - was even served to children at their birthday parties.

Gløgg is the Scandinavian version, served steaming hot and heavily spiced with raisins, almonds, cinnamon sticks and cloves steeped in pure aquavit or schnapps. The raisins and spices are left in the wine for eight days and then removed before serving, to be replaced with almonds, fresh raisins and spices on serving.

Toso is the Japanese version and is made with sake, prepared by steeping tososan - a herbal mixture of cinnamon bark, the seeds of sansho (Japanese prickly ash), and the roots of medicinal plants such as bofu and okera, a perennial herb that grows in sunny, dry mountainous areas in sake. Toso was introduced to Japan from China, where the tradition involved hanging a red sack of herbs in a well on the evening of New Year's Eve. The next day, the bag was soaked in sake and offered to a deity in a sakazuki, or sake cup. Then one family member drank the toso while the others wished for good health.

An essential aspect of skiing in Austria (and southern Germany) in my experience are the regular Gluhwein stops, and comparisons made between various venues, as to whether sugar is a necessary additive. In French resorts a similar concoction is offered (of similarly variable quality), though it goes by the appellation 'Vin Chaud' (hot wine).

But Why...?

Not everyone can see the point of a drink that's hot. And to be fair, this final tale might persuade us heated beverage-lovers to see why...

I've never understood drinking hot coffee when the temperature is in the 90s or 100s (Fahrenheit of course!). In the southern USA, folks often drink Coke with breakfast instead of coffee - a habit they then carry over to other regions of the USA, so they can receive lots of strange looks.
In my 33rd year, I finally began drinking hot beverages on occasions other than when my body temperature was low. I've always been a big fan of iced coffee and iced tea - but never could get the hang of drinking a hot liquid except when I was chilled to the bone.
I finally started because I grew weary of the strange looks and soda in the morning isn't a great way to keep slender. Black coffee and tea however work the trick of the jolt of caffeine without all the sugar so I've converted to the ranks of the hot beverage drinkers. Though I'll still happily swallow a cup of cold coffee.

Any More?

Feel free to suggest more hot drinks, or join in the many existing threads, in the conversations below. Happy sipping!

1Important - only add one drop as this is very potent and it is not normally recommended for internal use.2Or vanilla extract and sweetener to taste.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more