Unpacking The Truth About Starbucks' Legendary Cold-Curing Drink

starbucks suffering from supply shortages, runs short on some ingredients and supplies
What Is The Medicine Ball At Starbucks?Joe Raedle - Getty Images

Summer’s officially over, students are heading back to school, and the inevitable spread of the flu is on the horizon. Feeling under the weather can affect your body in many ways: sniffles, sore throat, fever. While you can take medicine and wait for the sickness to run its course, indulging in cozy and comforting food is one of our favorite ways to treat a cold.

A steaming bowl of chicken soup may be the obvious choice for a sick day, but you can also find relief at Starbucks. Their secret flu-fighting drink first gained fame as a viral secret drink in 2017 before eventually becoming an official menu item.

The Medicine Ball, also known as the Cold Buster and officially called Honey Citrus Mint Tea, is a flu-season staple. Here’s everything you need to know about the beverage, its benefits, and how to order it.

What Is A Medicine Ball?

Starbucks' Medicine Ball is made by filling a venti cup with half hot water and half steamed lemonade, adding both a bag of Peach Tranquility tea and Jade Citrus Mint tea, and finishing it with a touch of honey.

The recipe first originated on social media, where users described the Starbucks hack as a “miracle cold cure.” And to say it went viral is an understatement.

People all over the country started ordering Medicine Balls, and according to Fortune, Starbucks managers were reporting that they were making dozens of cups a day.

The company’s then president and COO, Kevin Johnson, quickly added the Medicine Ball to the official menu. Many other viral off-menu recipes, like the iconic Pink Drink, have taken months of online stardom before making their way to the menu. But Johnson said that the company was able to add the Medicine Ball in just one day.

What Does The Medicine Ball Do?

Despite the name, the Medicine Ball isn't going to cure your cold. But it does help to relieve some common symptoms. The warmth of the tea and lemonade combo can help clear and soothe your stuffy sinuses. The Jade Citrus Mint tea has naturally occurring anti-inflammatory properties—not enough to kill your cold, but enough to keep some of the discomfort at bay.

The lemonade is also jam-packed with vitamin C. At the onset of a cold, consuming vitamin C can help shorten the duration of your illness. And the honey isn't just for adding a boost of sweetness, either. Its sticky consistency can coat an irritated throat and calm your coughs.

A Medicine Ball isn't a cure-all for a cold. But just like with chicken soup and other sick-day staples, its warmth and comforting flavors make it a great treat to enjoy while you wait for your sickness to run its course.

How Do You Order A Medicine Ball?

You're not going to find the drink listed under its most popular name—why Starbucks decided to not call it the Medicine Ball is beyond us. But if you order a Medicine Ball, odds are your barista will know what you're talking about. Or just ask for it by its official name, Honey Citrus Mint Tea. The drink can be found with all of the other hot teas on the Starbucks app. You can also customize it however you want: adjusting the amount of tea, lemonade, and even adding a pump of peppermint.

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