DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink

A lemon cayenne hot drink with a home made DIY ginger probiotic (aka Ginger Bug). 

When I'm feeling dehydrated, but don't feel like drinking water from the fridge (and it's too early for a cocktail and too late for coffee HA), I turn to something hot. Usually it's hot water with lemon. If I'm feeling extra fancy, it will also have a slice of ginger and a sprinkle of cayenne. But I kind of figured, I might as well figure out a make-ahead option that does even better. *FERMENTATION enters the picture...*

Chris brought up the idea of making a 'ginger bug' drink. A ginger bug is a fermentation product where you essentially 'feed' naturally occurring yeast from the ginger in water with sugar. Over a day or so, you'll actually see and hear little bubbles (the byproduct) and have a drink that tastes incredibly gingery but not as sharp and a little sweet. As you use the strained liquid, keep adding water and sugar (directions below). It's the gift that keeps on giving. 

Part two of the make-ahead option is having honey cayenne syrup. Which coincidentally, works well for cocktails too (efficiency at it's finest). Making a syrup is a nice way to disperse cayenne in a drink by suspending it in honey vs dusting it on top, inhaling and coughing up a lung in the process. Speaking from experience the whole cayenne cough is very attractive and will be very impressive to whomever is watching you drink. 

DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink

If this was like every other nutrition or wellness blog, here's the part where we would talk about some sort of detox or cleanse term with lemon and cayenne. But to be honest that's not what we do here and the main benefit of this is hydration and flavor. Remember flavor? This drink is spicy and lightly sweet. It's bright and gingery but soothing. It's exactly what you want after maybe a heavier lunch but before dinner. And it's perfect for you if you, like us, are a ginger hoarder. 

I also want to make a note of the fermentation probiotics and hot drink concept, because we did look into this out of curiosity. In general, probiotics + heat = dead probiotics (that's why some probiotic pills ask to be stored in the fridge at the grocery vs having them shipped online in a hot box during summer). So two things to remember here: first, you can make this drink for the flavor alone and not give a damn how hot you heat your drink. Second, is that probiotics, do survive up to a certain point. Unless you're over here drinking boiling water, a warm mug of this is going to be a-okay. 

DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink
DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink
DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink
DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink

DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink 


Per drink

  • 3/4 cup water 
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar (regular is fine, but I prefer the taste of this) 
  • 3 Tablespoons ginger bug* (see recipe below)
  • 1.5 teaspoons honey cayenne syrup* (see recipe below) 

Ginger Bug

  • 3 T roughly peeled and grated fresh ginger root + additional ginger to feed it
  • 1/2 cup white sugar + additional sugar to feed it
  • 2 cups filtered water

Cayenne Syrup

  • 1/2 cup honey (use Wedderspoon manuka with a high k factor for added benefits but any honey will do!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. To make ginger bug: Add ginger and sugar to a large jar and stir to combine.
  2. Add water, stir and cover with cheesecloth or coffee filter for 1-5 days.
  3. NOTE: if you are looking for just the flavor vs probiotic benefits, you can use after 1 day. If you are looking for fermentation, wait at least five days and each day, feed it 1 Tablespoon sugar and an additional Tablespoon grated ginger. After day five, you can feed it 1 teaspoon of sugar, a little bit of water and a little bit more grated ginger and continue to do so. I cannot find a good resource attesting to how long you can go on with this and I'm only about a week in, but I'll keep you posted. 
  4. To make cayenne syrup: Add honey to a sealable container with cayenne, stir to combine.

  5. Add water and microwave for about 30 seconds until honey dissolves. Stir, cover, and store in the fridge. 

  6. To make drink: Add water, lemon, apple cider vinegar, ginger bug and syrup to a mug. Stir and heat. garnish with lemon wedge if desired. 

DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink
DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink
DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink
DIY Ginger Cayenne Probiotic Tea Drink

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.