The Best Hot Toddy Tea Recipe

by Paromita Datta last updated -

When it is cold outside and you want a little warmth to light up your soul, there is nothing better than a hot toddy tea. Spicy, sweet, and laced with a fair bit of alcohol, it is a drink that is known to give your spirits a boost. It is also surprisingly flexible. You can play with the ingredients, switch the type of alcohol, or play with the proportions.

What is Hot Toddy Tea?

A hot toddy tea is an adaptation of the classic hot toddy cocktail where hot tea is added to alcohol. Like many things quintessentially British, the origins of the hot toddy tea lie in its colonial past, or to be geographically correct, in India. The word toddy was used for fermented flower sap from a coconut palm. Many toddy makers used hot water, sugar, and spices to make their brew. Unsurprisingly, this is pretty much the recipe for a hot toddy, alcohol, honey, and warm water. The spices used in the tea also came from the former British colonies, India, and Sri Lanka.

Hot toddy in a glass with spices and lemon

Traditionally, a hot toddy tea is made with lemon, honey, tea, and alcohol. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

There are, of course, disputed versions and other claimants. One such story attributes the toddy to an Irish physician named Robert Bentley Todd, who was known to prescribe it to his patients. The truth perhaps lies between the two. Perhaps the physician learned of the recipe from people who returned from India and found it useful for treating people with a cold.

While the origin of the drink can be debated, there is little doubt about why it acquired fame. The hot liquid with its alcoholic kick is often prescribed as a folklore remedy to warm the body on cold winter nights. The honey and the lemon, often used in the tea, are known antioxidants that are effective in treating colds. The spices give this drink another delicious edge. They also helped in disguising the taste of raw scotch that people often used to make the tea.

How to Make Hot toddy tea?

Although the hot toddy tea was seen as medicinal, it is just as beloved for a lazy night in when you want something hot with an edge. It is a variation of the classic hot toddy which was made with hot water, honey, lemon, spices, alcohol. In this version, the hot water is infused with tea.

Hot toddy drink (apple orange rum punch) for Christmas and winter holidays

Hot Toddy Tea Recipe

A traditional hand-me-down recipe to warm the body. You can customize the recipe according to your taste.  
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Course: Tea
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Hot Toddy Tea
Appliance: Stove, Electric Kettle
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Steeping time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Author: Paromita Datta


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teabag preferably, black tea
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1.5 ounce whiskey, brandy, or rum
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cloves


  • Add the spices to the water and bring them to a boil. Let the teabag steep in this spiced water for 5 minutes. 
  • Strain into a saucepan and stir in the honey. Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. 
  • Pour into cups. Hold a spoon upside down over the mug and pour in the alcohol. Your hot toddy tea is ready! 


This is a basic recipe that you can adapt to your taste. Use the alcohol you like, change the amount of honey or lemon till you hit the flavor you love. 

The Best Tea and Alcohol For The Toddy

The hot toddy was originally made with raw scotch. Many people still prefer to make it with malt scotch. Rich bourbons and rye whiskeys work equally well. When it traveled to America, the alcohol of choice was rum from the Caribbean. Another variation used local brandies. In a pinch, you can also use gin. The good news is that the hot toddy tea is remarkably resilient, equally adaptable with the variations in the alcohol.

For the tea, you should pick a strong brew. Black tea such as Darjeeling, Assam, and Ceylon are classic choices. You can also opt for Chinese Keemun tea. Some people have experimented with herbal teas such as ginger tea. You can add milk to the tea if you want.


A hot toddy is not a drink that should be had in excess. Rather, it is meant as a way to relax and is more of an experience. Alcoholism and binge drinking is detrimental to your overall health and can undo any possible good things that moderate amounts can impart.

There are adverse risks associated with alcohol consumption. Intake of alcohol, if done excessively, can lead to short-term and long-term health risks such as alcohol abuse and addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who should not drink alcohol include women who are pregnant, individuals younger than 21 years of age, and people who are recovering from alcoholism or cannot control the amount they drink. Also, it should be avoided by people who are planning to drive or any other activity that required focus and skill. [1] Protection Status
About the Author

Paromita Datta covers the latest health and wellness trends for Organic Facts. An ex-journalist who specialized in health and entertainment news, Paromita was responsible for managing a health supplement for The New Indian Express, a leading national daily in India. She has completed her post-graduation in Business Administration from the University of Rajasthan and her diploma in journalism from YMCA, Delhi. She has completed an e-course, Introduction to Food and Health, from Stanford University, US.

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