Mom’s Best Honey Lemon Tea

The Best Honey Lemon Tea - This recipe marinates sliced lemons in honey to create a much richer and smoother body. It’s soothing, healing, and so comforting! |

A family recipe that teaches you how to create the best honey lemon tea. By marinating lemons in honey, it creates a drink that has a much richer and smoother body. It’s soothing, healing, and so comforting!

There are many honey lemon tea recipes on the internet, but my family uses a very different approach. Instead of squeezing a few drops of lemon juice and adding honey to a glass of water, this recipe marinates lemon slices for a week. It yields a concentrated lemonade that is smooth and rich and has a great flavor.

It seems like a lot of trouble to take such a detour, just to create a glass of lemonade. But if you try this recipe once, you’ll find it creates a far superior flavor.  The marinating process will eliminate the bitterness and astringent mouthfeel of the lemon. The honey will cause the lemon to dehydrate, along with the rind. After a week, the honey in the jar will turn to a sweet, rich, and tangy liquid. You can use this liquid along with the lemon slices to create any drink you like.


The Best Honey Lemon Tea - This recipe marinates sliced lemons in honey to create a much richer and smoother body. It’s soothing, healing, and so comforting! |

The Best Honey Lemon Tea - This recipe marinates sliced lemons in honey to create a much richer and smoother body. It’s soothing, healing, and so comforting! |

There are a few ways to serve the lemon tea. To make a cold drink, you can blend the honey lemon liquid with cold water or soda. You can also blend the lemon and liquid with a small amount of hot water first, to let the lemon release more flavor, then add ice water later to make it a cold drink. I recommend the latter way if you have more time.

My mom always makes hot tea with this recipe. Simply add a few spoons of the liquid and a couple lemon slices to a big cup, pour in some hot water and throw in a black tea bag. You will have a very rich lemon black tea in 3 minutes.

After the move to Austin, I knew it would take me some time to overcome the jet lag, so I made a big jar of this soon after arrival. It’s such a soothing and healing drink and it makes me feel at home immediately, even with my luggage yet to be unpacked. 🙂

The Best Honey Lemon Tea - This recipe marinates sliced lemons in honey to create a much richer and smoother body. It’s soothing, healing, and so comforting! |


Mom’s Best Honey Lemon Tea

  • Author: Maggie Zhu
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins
  • Yield: Yields 4 cups of lemon honey
  • Category: Drinks
  • Cuisine: Chinese


You don’t need very accurate measurements for this recipe.
This recipe requires marinating the lemons for a week. You could drink it after 2 to 3 days, but it will taste better after a few more days.


  • 2 pounds (900 grams) lemon, sliced
  • 2 pounds (900 grams) honey
  • (Optional) black tea bags


Make lemon marinade

  1. Clean a half-gallon (2-liter) air-tight jar thoroughly with dishwasher and let air dry. If you have further concerns, boil the jar to sanitize it, then let it air dry.
  2. Wash lemons thoroughly and let them air dry. Or you can use paper towels to pat dry.
  3. Slice lemons and place in the half-gallon (2-liter) air-tight jar. Try to arrange them tightly so as to leave little space between the slices. You should leave the top third of the jar empty, because you will need that space to re-arrange the lemon slices and stir later.
  4. Pour honey into the jar. The honey should almost cover the lemons.
  5. Seal the jar with the lid and place it in the fridge.
  6. Every two to three days, use a clean spoon to scoop the lemons and honey from the bottom and drizzle them on top. The honey will be very thick on the bottom.
  7. The marinade will be ready in about a week. By then, the lemons will lose a lot of their juice and the texture of the liquid in the jar will be very thin, almost like water.

To serve the tea

  1. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the liquid and a few slices of marinated lemon into a big glass.
  2. (Option 1) Add hot water until it fills half of the glass. Stir and let rest for 3 minutes. Add ice water to make it a cold drink. The drink will be more flavorful this way than using cold water directly.
  3. (Option 2) Add cold water or soda to make a quick cold drink.
  4. (Option 3) Add a black tea bag and hot water to the glass to make honey lemon black tea.
  5. (Option 4) Add hot water to the glass to make it a hot drink.

To store

  1. Use a clean spoon every time; you can store the jar in the fridge for up to a month.



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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my Austin, Texas kitchen.

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25 thoughts on “Mom’s Best Honey Lemon Tea

  1. felicia | Dish by Dish

    Hi Maggie! I found your blog via Food Bloggers Central….and man! I just love the photos you have! And…. this honey lemon tea is something similar to what I used to take in Singapore when I was feeling sick.

    Thanks for sharing your mum’s recipe! 🙂 And hello from a fellow Asian!

  2. Bam's Kitchen

    Glad to see you back at blogging even after a really rough week! I love that pour shot and you have amazing light in your new place in Austin. I think this would be really soothing beverage when your sick or even just the honey lemon marinated as a hot beverage, when you have a cold. Helps with the cough! I can’t wait to try this recipe and will be pinning, sharing all over.. Take Care

  3. Nancy | Plus Ate Six

    Congratulations on the move and your wedding! Your photos are getting more luscious by the day – how is that even possible? I’ll have jet lag next week when I return to Shanghai I’ll be making this straight away!

  4. [email protected]

    oooh….I love this!! Honey Lemon Tea is the only thing I can stomach when I’m feeling really pathetic and ill….

    I am definitely saving this! Maggie’s Mum’s Hone Lemon Tea. I will remember this, always! <3

    1. Maggie Post author

      I think this is a bit like the Korean yuzi tea, but maybe not as condensed. Yep, the hot lemon tea is a great drink for winter. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  5. Marlene

    Love this, and your gorgeous photos, too. What a terrific soother to have on hand. Welcome to the US, Maggie. Getting over jet lag while you are settling into a new home isn’t easy. Be patient with yourself!

    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks so much for the kind words Marlene! This is definitely my go-to dish to make, to overcome the exhaustion from a trip or jet leg. It’s much easier to get settle into a new home when I always have these dishes at hands 🙂

  6. Marlene

    What a soothing recipe, perfect to have on hand, Maggie. Love the photos, too. Welcome to the US. Having just returned from a month-long trip to 10 places around the world, I know how tough it is to get over jet lag. Plus you are settling into a new home. Be patient with yourself, though I know it’s hard.

  7. Megan

    That honey pour shot looks like heaven! I’ve always been unsatisfied with simply adding lemon to tea or settling for lemon tea bags and yet I constantly crave it. This sounds like the perfect solution! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Maggie Post author

      So glad to hear you like this drink Megan! Me too, if you just add sliced lemon into water or tea, it’s somehow not very rich. I always keep this in my fridge and I add them a few spoons into my morning water. I can always keep myself rehydrated better when this way 🙂

  8. Brittany

    I can’t wait to try this! Can you let me know how long this will stay good in the fridge? Once it has marinated- would you say to use it withing 2-3 weeks?

  9. Dobz Jast

    Great idea, will try.

    Although I recommend you wash your lemons with vinegar as to eliminate as much pesticide from the rind as possible.

  10. Shirley

    When Marinating the lemons in honey is it done outside the fridge? I know you said for storage but I was wondering if it was for the whole process?

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Shirley, I always marinate the lemon inside of the fridge. I think it’s possible to do the marinating in room temperature, but you need to boil the jar and air dry it carefully to avoid bacteria, so the ingredients won’t spoil.

  11. Alma Grace

    Hi Maggie. I have tried doing this but the concoction turns bitter because of the lemon peel. Am I doing it wrong? Thank you 🙂

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Alma, I’m sorry that your tea didn’t turn out as good as expected. How long did you marinade the lemons? I usually store them for quite a while, so the flavor eventually turns mellow. The tea should be sweet, maybe a hint of bitterness from the peels but shouldn’t be very obvious.

  12. Mei

    Just read your honey lemon tea recipe and I had tried it before but the taste is not sweet. Can you please let me know why it is bitter taste after in the fridge for a week.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Mei, I’m sorry to hear the recipe didn’t work for you. When you’re making the tea, did you use enough honey to cover the lemons?
      I would recommend you to leave the lemon in the fridge for a longer period of time. The bitter taste from the lemon skin will mellow out.
      Also, do flip and stir the lemon (my mom used to do this by transferring the whole jar of lemon and the liquid), since all the honey will sink to bottom when the lemon starts to lose water.
      If you’ve tried everything and the tea is still not sweet enough, then you probably need to add more honey.