This is our copycat version of the Medicine Ball Starbucks Tea, so you can be the barista and save money and time by making it at home this flu season!
Use this recipe made with simple ingredients like green and peach hot tea, mixed with steamed lemonade and peppermint extract, to soothe a sore throat and help you get over a cold or cough.
What Is Starbucks’ Medicine Ball Tea?
Starbucks enthusiasts swear that ordering Starbucks Medicine Ball Tea (aka Cold Buster Tea), from what is referred to as the “Starbucks secret menu,” can help cure a common cold or cough.
A secret menu item is a Starbucks recipe that isn’t on the official menu, but that regulars know how to order. Knowledge of the medicine ball drink is spread only by word of mouth.
In rare cases, as with the Starbucks Medicine Ball Tea, the item keeps trending in such high demand that it DOES eventually make its way onto the regular menu. Now you can order this drink from any Starbucks as the “Honey Citrus Mint Tea.”
We love to make this soothing lemony hot drink whenever we feel some congestion in our sinuses or a scratchy throat coming on. Here’s why we think it’s great:
- You save money by making the Medicine Ball Starbucks drink at home.
- You can find the ingredients at most grocery stores and keep them on hand to make yourself a Medicine Ball tea throughout cold and flu season.
- You can make a larger batch if more than one person in your home is feeling under the weather or if you want to make more to refrigerate and warm up as needed.
- You can customize two additional versions (in the recipe card notes below) that contain less added sugars than the Medicine Ball from Starbucks.
- You can customize the flavor using your favorite brands and varieties of tea.
Health Benefits of Medicine Ball Tea
One of our own registered dietitians, Jessie Shafer, used to order a Medicine Ball Tea from Starbucks whenever she felt a tingle in her throat. But then she realized that she could easily make her own version at home for less money and with less added sugars, too.
Jessie polled our readers on social media to see if they’d like an at-home Medicine Ball Tea recipe, and the answer was a resounding YES! Jessie perfected the recipe at home, and shares the reason that this combination of ingredients results in a nourishing tea:
- Water: Essential for maintaining hydration and supporting overall bodily functions, water aids in digestion and facilitates nutrient absorption.
- Lemonade: Packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant crucial for immune system support, lemonade may enhance digestion.
- Peppermint green tea: Infused with antioxidants, this tea may contribute to fighting inflammation and aid digestion.
- Peach herbal tea: Herbal teas provide antioxidant benefits and vitamins.
- Pure honey: As a natural sweetener with potential antibacterial properties, honey contains antioxidants and may provide relief for a sore throat and cough.
- Peppermint extract: Known for aiding digestion and relieving indigestion, peppermint extract is associated with potential benefits in alleviating headaches and improving focus.
Ingredients To Make Medicine Ball Tea
Here’s what you need to make yourself one of the most soothing, cozy, and congestion-relieving home remedies:
- Hot water
- Lemonade or lemon juice — The Starbucks recipe uses lemonade. However, to cut back on sugar, we provided a version below that calls for lemon juice instead. You can also add lemongrass or lemon verbena tea bags to add another layer of healthy lemony flavor.
- Peppermint green tea — You can use any variety of green tea (we recommend an organic brand). The flavor is even better if you can find a green and mint tea bag, such as this one from Traditional Medicinals on Amazon.
- Peach herbal tea — We recommend that you select an organic herbal tea. You can use any brand (we like this delicious organic Peach DeTox tea from Yogi), or you can substitute with any fruity or floral flavor of herbal tea, such as a hibiscus or any berry flavor.
- Pure honey — You could use maple syrup instead, though we recommend honey for its health benefits.
- Peppermint extract — This is an optional ingredient, but we recommend that you use it if you have it. We love the extra punch of soothing flavor and aroma it provides.
Find the ingredient list with exact measurements in the recipe card below.
Ingredient Highlight: Green Tea
The official Medicine Ball Starbucks tea is made from the Teavana brand of Jasmine Citrus Mint Green Tea and Ginger Peach Herbal Tea. It also includes lemonade and honey. Sometimes customers request the addition of one pump of peppermint syrup.
Our homemade version of the Starbucks Medicine Ball recipe is made with less sugar (since we don’t use a pump of peppermint syrup). We also prefer organic green and herbal tea. The result is a soothing remedy you’ll love to sip on when you’ve got the sniffles.
How To Make Medicine Ball Tea
You can make this cold and cough remedy at home, which is ideal when you’re not feeling well enough for a Starbucks run.
- Heat the liquids: Heat the water and lemonade (or lemon juice) to a very low simmer over the stovetop (our preferred method). You can also heat the liquids in a mug in the microwave or using a tea kettle.
- Steep the tea: Add the peppermint green tea bag and the herbal peach tea bag. Let them steep for a few minutes (we recommend 5-10 minutes total time of steeping).
- Stir in the flavoring: Stir in the honey and the peppermint extract (they will dissolve in the warm liquid).
- Enjoy: Pour your Medicine Ball Tea into a favorite mug, and enjoy this soothing warm tea drink right away.
For serving size and the complete directions and ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card below. All of our recipes include the nutrition analysis, listing calories (kcals), protein, carbohydrates/carb, fiber, sugar, sodium, cholesterol, and more per serving.
Choose Organic Tea
Since teas (like any other herbal tinctures or herbal supplements) are concentrated, the quality of the product is a direct reflection of the soil where the herbs are grown. Toxins, heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides will show up in stronger amounts in a concentrated product like tea.
For this Starbucks Medicine Ball Tea recipe, we like an organic choice such as Traditional Medicinals Peppermint Green Tea and Yogi Peach DeTox Tea. Some of our favorite brands of organic tea are Organic India, Pukka Herbs, and Traditional Medicinals.
How To Make and Store a Double Batch
If you’d like to make a Medicine Ball Tea for more than one person at a time, or if you’d like to make extra for yourself when you’re under the weather, you can easily double the recipe.
Use the following amounts and follow the directions as listed in the recipe card below:
- Double the liquids, using 2 cups of water and 2 cups of lemon juice
- You still need to use just 1 of each kind of tea bag
- Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey, depending on your preferred taste
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract
To store homemade Medicine Ball tea in the fridge, cool it to room temperature. Then, transfer it to an airtight container and place it in a darker section of the refrigerator away from strong odors. Consume within 3-4 days for optimal freshness.
The Science: Does Medicine Ball Tea Work?
You may be wondering if this drink really does help cure a common cold or cough. Unfortunately, we can’t claim that anything can 100% cure your cold. That being said, there is some science behind why this concoction of ingredients may be beneficial for helping you feel better faster:
- Lemon juice is high in vitamin C, and research shows that vitamin C can shorten the length of a cold.
- A warm lemon drink may help relieve congestion faster.
- Studies show that green tea is a rich source of antioxidants and has natural anti-inflammatory properties to help relieve a sore throat.
- It is well-established in several studies that honey is a natural cough suppressant and an effective way to relieve cold symptoms, espeiclaly in children.
- Peppermint contains menthol, an ingredient shown to relieve congestion and soothe a sore throat. This is true of fresh peppermint, as well as peppermint extracts and teas.
- Most importantly, research shows it’s good to stay hydrated to recover faster and ease your cold symptoms. This tea is very hydrating.
- 1 cups (8 ounces) water
- 1 cup (8 ounces) lemonade (See Notes below for lower-sugar option)
- 1 peppermint green tea bag
- 1 peach herbal tea bag
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional, but recommended)
- Heat the water and lemonade in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Alternatively, you can heat the liquids in a large mug in the microwave or use a tea kettle.
- Bring the water to a barely-there simmer.
- Add the two tea bags to the liquid and let them steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the honey and peppermint extract.
- Pour the drink into a mug and enjoy it warm.
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The Medicine Ball Tea (also known as the Honey Citrus Mint Tea) that you can buy at Starbucks uses Teavana Jasmine Citrus Mint Tea and Teavana Ginger Peach Herbal Tea.
Any brand of green tea and fruity herbal tea works for a copycat Starbucks Medicine Ball tea recipe. We recommend organic tea, such as Traditional Medicinals Peppermint Green Tea and Yogi Peach DeTox Tea, which can be found at most grocery stores, Whole Foods, and Target.
Lower Sugar Option: Follow the recipe as written above, but use 1 ½ cups water and ½ cup lemonade instead. This version contains 85 calories, 0 g fat, 2 mg sodium, 20 g carb (17 g sugars), 0 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol
Lemon Juice Option: Follow the recipe as written above, but use 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (the juice of about 1 small lemon). This version contains 72 calories, 0 g fat, 2 mg sodium, 19 g carb (16 g sugars), 0 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol
- Serving Size: 1 drink
- Calories: 130
- Fat: 0 g
- (Sat Fat: 0 g)
- Sodium: 2 mg
- Carbohydrate: 32 g
- (Fiber: 0 g
- Sugar: 30 g)
- Protein: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, if it’s easier for you to heat the water and lemon juice in a microwave instead of the stovetop, you can do that, too. Then, simply steep the tea right in the same mug and add the honey and peppermint extract to the mug, as well.
You can use any brand of green tea and fruity herbal tea that you like. Scroll back up to read why we recommend you use organic brands of tea. Some of our favorites for this Starbucks Medicine Ball Tea recipe are Traditional Medicinals Peppermint Green Tea and Yogi Teas Peach DeTox Tea.
Using lemonade makes this recipe taste the most like a Medicine Ball Tea from Starbucks. However, you can use lemon juice if you’d like to cut back on added sugars. Check out the recipe card below to see the different versions of making a Medicine Ball Tea at home.
This soothing drink is a wonderful beverage to have whenever you want one, even if you’re not sick. We love to sip a Medicine Ball Tea when we’re feeling a cold or cough coming on, but also just to take the edge off on a chilly day.
We recommend you steep the tea bags for 5 to 10 minutes.
We think this tea tastes especially good when you drink it warm, which is so soothing for a sore throat. However, you don’t have to drink it warm. You could also enjoy it as a lemony sweet tea drink over ice.
This drink does contain some caffeine from the green tea. One cup of brewed green tea contains about 25 milligrams of caffeine, which is the equivalent of about 1/3 cup of brewed black coffee. Herbal tea does not contain caffeine.
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