Wondering What is the Best Tea for a Cold? Here are 7!

Updated on: March 30, 2023
Author: Nick
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Best Tea for a Cold

Cupping your hands around a steaming cup of tea on a cold winter day can be a comfort to your soul, but most importantly sipping tea is also great for your health! If you're wondering what is the best tea for a cold, then keep reading to learn more.

Since ancient times, different teas have been used for many health benefits, such as helping ease cold and flu symptoms (1).

Read on to find out what teas are best for those pesky colds!

Best Teas for When you Have a Cold

True teas, which include black, white, green, and oolong teas, originate from the same plant, the Camellia Sinensis. The leaves of this plant are used for medicinal purposes, so it is no surprise that using the leaves in tea also has health benefits.

Camellia Sinensis
Camellia Sinensis

Tea contains polyphenolic compounds, catechins, theaflavins, EGCG, flavonoids, DAT, and L-theanine, all of which can have positive results on our health. Not only is tea good for colds and flus, but also for chronic illnesses (2).

Here is a list of the best tea for a cold:

Best Tea for a Cold - Caffeinated

Caffeinated teas include green, black, white, and oolong tea. These teas are all from the same plant, but they are each processed differently which affects their taste, color, and health properties. 

Caffeine may help when you have a cold as it gives you an energy boost to help you get on with your day.

Here are caffeinated teas that can help ease your symptoms when you have a cold:

Black Tea

Some say black tea could be the best tea for a cold, because it contains flavonoids which aid in regulating the immune system in fighting infections. The flavonoids work with healthy gut bacteria, particularly a microbe called Clostridium Orbiscidens, which boosts a molecule called interferon (1).

This molecule then boosts the immune response in your body. 

Bacteria and flavonoids produce Desaminotyrosine or DAT, which has been shown in studies to reduce lung damage and other side effects of colds and flus (1).

Add honey and lemon for sweetness. Both of which have their own health benefits including providing Vitamin C.

How to Use
To make black tea, use boiling water with either tea bags or loose leaves. Preferably the latter as tea bags are inferior in quality since the tea leaves are broken into smaller pieces.

This can affect the oils in the leaves which in turn affects the flavor, the health benefits and the tea's shelf life.

Wondering What is the Best Tea for a Cold? Here are 7!

White Tea

White tea has a subtle sweet and floral taste. It contains antioxidants and L-theanine which is why some will claim that it is the best tea for a cold.

L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves which may improve the function of the immune system. It reduces resting heart rate which causes relaxation and aids in sleeping (3).

White tea can also decrease upper respiratory infections and boosts cilia movement in the nose, which are strands that help clear mucus (3).

How to Use
Steep the white tea bags or loose tea leaves for several minutes. It is best to use water between 150° to 170° Fahrenheit.

Green Tea

Green tea is full of goodness that can help anything from a cold to reducing your risk of cancer. It has polyphenolic compounds called catechins. The main catechin is EGCG which neutralizes free radicals (4).

Free radicals are atoms and molecules which fly around the body looking for electrons to pair with. As they do this, they can cause damage to cells and DNA. Free radicals are linked to chronic diseases and ageing.

Catechins make up around 30% to 42% of green tea leaves (4), which has positive long-term and short-term effects on our bodies. This is why some claim that green tea is the best tea for a cold.

How to Use
There is plain green tea or green tea with other flavors such as lemon or jasmine. Using tea bags or tea leaves, steep it in hot water for a few moments. Similar to white tea, it is best to use water between 150° to 170° Fahrenheit.

The more you steep it, the more the polyphenols are extracted from the leaves giving you more health benefits.

Best Tea for a Cold - Herbal

Herbal teas do not originate from the Camellia sinensis plant. They are infusions of herbs, spices, fruits, or flowers in hot water.

Here's a list of the best tea for a cold:

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea is widely known to help with nausea (5), but it is also known to help ease cold symptoms and some might even say that it is the best tea for a cold.

It has virucidal properties which can shorten the length of your cold because these compounds prevent pathogens from replicating. It reduces inflammation (6) which can ease swollen blood vessels and ease your headache and aching muscles.

The smell alone can open-up airways when they are blocked as menthol can improve the perception of airflow in the nose. Menthol is also responsible for the cooling sensation which relaxes muscles and eases headaches. A study found that it can reduce mental fatigue which could help get rid of that foggy flu brain (7).

How to Use
Use boiling water and steep for up to 10 minutes. You can add peppermint tea leaves or use tea bags.

You can also use it to steam your face if you aren’t a fan of the taste. Add some leaves to boiled water, put a towel over your head and breathe in the steam deep into your lungs. This is also a great way to clear your pores. So, you’ll look great even when you feel like sh**! Ha

Lemon Based Tea

There are several lemon teas such as lemongrass or lemon balm tea. This is a great tea for colds because it contains lots of vitamin C, antifungal and antibacterial properties.

How to Use
Steep any lemon-based tea for up to ten minutes in boiling water.

Ginger Tea

Ginger tea tastes a little spicy and has a warmth that heats you all the way down to your stomach.

Ginger Tea for Colds

It has compounds called shogaols and gingerols which, according to some studies, have anticancer, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties making it the best tea to drink when sick (8)!

One study showed it was more effective against strep throat than some antibiotics (9).

How to Use
It is easy to make your own ginger tea by adding fresh ginger to boiling water and steeping for at least ten minutes. Add lemon or honey to taste.

Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea is a good choice of tea for a cold, with plenty of vitamin C, antioxidants, and iron. By drinking just three cups of it a day you will get your recommended vitamin C intake. It is caffeine free, so it won’t disturb your sleep.

How to Use
Use hibiscus flowers or loose leaf tea and add them to boiling water for about 5 minutes.

Elderberry Tea

Elderberry has a delicate flavor; a subtle sweet, fragrant tea packed with flavonoids and antioxidants to boost your immune system. 

How to Use
If possible, use the berries or white flowers from the plant – beware, other parts and leaves are toxic.

Add the berries to boiling water, simmer for a few minutes, remove the berries, and then pour the tea into your cup. Or add the flowers to boiling water, simmer, and strain.

Nettle Tea

While touching nettles can bring your skin out in a red, itchy rash; used in a tea it does the opposite. Nettle tea contains phytochemicals that ease your aches and pains because they are anti-inflammatory (10).

And while it may not sound particularly appealing, nettle tea has a subtle, refreshing flavor which is why it is also a good tea for colds.

How to Use
Add a handful of leaves to boiling water and steep for several minutes to extract all the goodness from the leaves.

Licorice Root Tea

Licorice is an acquired taste. Whether it is your cup of tea or not, it has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It contains flavonoids which boost the immune system and licorice tea can prevent replication of harmful pathogens, meaning it stops the spread of the infection (11). 

How to Use
Use dried licorice in boiling water and add sugar to taste.

Strong Woman - Tea for Colds

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ's

Are other herbal teas good for colds?

There are other teas which can also be helpful when suffering with a cold, including chamomile. Chamomile contains flavonoids in its petals which make you sleepy. So, if you are struggling to get some rest, a cup of chamomile may help put you to sleep like a baby.

Do you have to make the tea with the parts of the plant, or can you use tea bags?

You will find all of these teas in tea bags but make sure they are classed as teas and not just infusions or you may not get the health benefits.

Of course, always aim for loose leaf teas for optimum benefits.

Final Remarks

Drinking tea not only has health benefits, such as L-theanine, but it keeps you hydrated and provides a warm comforting drink to soothe your throat.

Teas can boost our immune system to fight off infections but if you have a cold or the flu, it won’t get rid of it. Instead, it will help reduce the symptoms and damage caused to your body and prevent certain complications. 

So don’t hesitate to drink lots of different kinds of tea when you are sick!

Nick loves coffee... Actually, he NEEDS coffee! So, he has dedicated his time to learning all he can about this magical bean. He can make a mean latte, is obsessed with flat whites, and is always up for a cup of java!

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant to replace professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Do not consume any type of tea if you are allergic to it. The information in this article is not intended to treat serious medical conditions. Please seek professional medical advice before using home remedies.

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