Sore Throat tea and other Saudi remedies


When I first started this blog it was a way to document my learning experiences as I attempted to make Saudi dishes for my new husband. Later it became a journal of life in Saudi and my experiences with food for others in my shoes and now that I am a mom, I see it as a way to document food history for Saudis children. As you all already know I am the only blogger writing about Saudi cuisine and without other online sources documenting this amazing food and as young people grow up making new dishes and not learning about the past a lot of history is being forgotten and looked over. I hope that this blog can change that in some way.

I am always asking, learning and looking around for tips, recipes and remedies from the past just for this site and for that very reason. Spices are a really big deal in Saudi and as much as I loved them before I came here I have since found many new ones. Spices are not only used in cooking here, but also as medicines long before pharmacies and doctors were around this is what families turned to, many still do.

When you think of tea of course you think of some sort of drink that has been made with actual tea leaves (I know I do) well here a tea can be just hot water steeped with spices. These kinds of drinks are cures for many sicknesses and the recipe I am posting today is one of these as well. Since I started making this very tea for sore throats I have not stopped. It is magical making your throat feel better almost immediately and pretty much curing it soon after. What’s the secret ingredient you ask well everything. The spices known throughout the country (and a few other Gulf ones) to be a sore throat cure are cloves, ginger, honey, lemon, myrrh, petroleum (vicks) and sage.

Here are some remedies used through the years:

  • Soak myrrh and asafetida in hot water and drink. (central and northern KSA)
  • Boil cloves and ginger in hot water and drink. (UAE)
  • Use ginger, cress and myrrh. (central KSA)
  • Boil green ginger with lime and honey in hot water and drink. (northern KSA)
  • Use orange, lemon and honey. (southern KSA)
  • Use 1 teaspoon of honey in 1/2 cups hot water then gargle with it three times a day. (eastern KSA)
  • Boil mint with hot water and drink. (eastern KSA)
  • Put a hot onion compress around the neck and above the larynx. (eastern KSA)
  • Gargle with onion juice and honey three times a day. (eastern KSA)
  • Put myrrh it a cup of hot coffee or hot water, soak and drink. (southern KSA)
  • Gargle with hot water and salt or myrrh soaked hot water. (southern KSA)
  • Rub honey and vicks on the outside of your throat. (southern KSA)
  • Rub vicks on your neck. (southern KSA)
  • Boil sage in hot water and drink. (western KSA)
  • Use lemon, sesame oil, tahini with dates. (eastern KSA)

Boiling Water
4 cloves
1 lemon slice
Fresh Mint
Honey to taste

1. In a cup, add hot water, mint, lemon slice and cloves. Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes, remove cloves, then add honey to taste, stir and drink.

Yields: 1 cup

8 Responses to Sore Throat tea and other Saudi remedies

  • Wow; these are great. I would like to add something for when you are fasting and have a sore throat. This happened to me a while back and I couldn’t eat anything so someone told me to microwave (or heat in any way) a clean towel and wrap around my throat. It works, probably the best thing in such a situation!
    JazakAllah x

    • Thank you! Yes, they do that here with vicks and hot water wraps.

  • Nice post!

    My Saudi niece is living with us in Colorado while she attends school. I love learning things like this from her. She taught me to boil water and ground cinnamon and drink for menstrual cramps or stomach upset. We’ve never tried cloves but my husband makes me honey and lemon tea when I’m sick. His family is from the Dammam (Saihat) area of KSA and they love their Vicks. He rubs the kid’s throat/chest with it when they are sick. The kids love it. Whether or not the Vicks actually works, who knows? The kids love the attention and being rubbed with Vicks. So much of healing is just feeling cared for and loved. The very act of your family member making you a herbal tea is as almost as healing as the tea itself. That’s what I love most about Saudi culture. It’s a love I hadn’t experienced before meeting my husband. The love was truly my medicine.

    • Thank you sweets. It has been awhile since I heard from you. Yes, the Saudis are obsessed with Vicks and you can find it everywhere. They rub it all over as well lol. I think you’re right love always heals.

  • Thank you for documenting and preserving these remedies! I’ve been using a similar one for years. I took it from the website of a hospital in a remote part of the USA, which is the only one within about 5-6 hours of a large National Park. So people can’t always get to the hospital, so the hospital posted remedies that work with simple supplies people may have with them as they camp or hike.

    The remedy is to put about a tablespoon of honey (raw, if possible) with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (again rawa) in a coffee mug of very warm water and sip it. It works well for colds, and particularly well for stomach problems where the sick person can’t even keep ice down. My friends call it Tracey’s Remedy but it’s not really mine! :-)

    We also will sub lemon juice for the vinegar if the problem is a cold. Just be sure to swish out your mouth with water well with either remedy, because the acid will erode your teeth and the sugars in the honey will cause tooth decay.

    • Thanks for letting us know the ones that work for you. You know I have heard that raw butter and honey can cure cavities naturally.

  • Salaam ya Noor

    Your blog is important for documenting foodways of the Gulf. I visit YaSalamCooking specifically for these recipes and for your observations, insights, and records that capture the spirit of Gulf food and life. Blog on!!!

    • Wa Alaykum Salam, well thank you so much for saying this it really means a lot to me.

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