We all know that feeling of waking up with a sore throat. You want to get on with your day, but that scratchy feeling in the throat just keeps bothering you. The first thing we tend to reach out to for help is something warm – like broth or a cup of tea to soothe our sore throats.
And not without reason – tea and other herbal infusions are known natural remedies, that can be used in addition to traditional medicine to help you ease symptoms of a cold and provide comfort until you get better.
I’ve done the research for you and put together a list of teas that are actually helpful in soothing a sore throat, so you can enjoy the relief quickly. You will also find my recommendation of the single best tea to equip yourself with during the cold and flu season.
Does tea help a sore throat?
Drink many fluids – a common recommendation doctors give you when you’re sick. Fluids help in keeping your throat moist and a warm liquid such as tea can help soothe a sore throat.
Tea and herbal infusions have been used as natural remedies for a long time. Although they’re not a real treatment for serious illnesses, they can help ease the irritation and discomfort in your throat.
Many teas contain antioxidants such as flavonoids or catechins – compounds that can boost your immune system. They slow or prevent the effects of free radicals – unstable atoms that damage cells in your body. Some herbal infusions also have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the pain and help with healing.
Best teas for a sore throat and cough
Any warm drink will provide some relief and comfort, but there are certain herbal infusions that do that more effectively. I’ve collected a list of teas that do the best job at soothing a sore throat – you’re sure to find at least one you will like. If you’ve ever asked – what teas are good for a sore throat, reference this list to find out.
1. Green tea
The power of green tea comes from its antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatory properties. A study in the Iranian Journal of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine showed how green tea can reduce soreness of the throat in postoperative patients. If you don’t like the taste of green tea – black tea may be just as good, it’s more about quantity here than a specific kind of tea.
Green tea is the only real tea in this list because it comes from a plant known as Camellia Sinensis, while infusions from other plants are more correctly called herbal teas or tisanes.
In addition to helping soothe a sore throat, green tea has many other benefits – it can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower the chances of having a heart attack or a stroke.
What to avoid
Green tea, oolong tea, black tea, and other real teas are generally caffeinated beverages, so they may not be suitable for people with caffeine sensitivity (for caffeine-free options consider herbal teas). It should not be consumed in very large quantities – drinking more than 5 cups a day can, in fact, have adverse effects, such as causing kidney stones.
How to prepare green tea
Green tea needs a water temperature of around 80°C degrees. To estimate – bring water to boil and let it cool for 5 minutes. Then pour the hot water over a teaspoon of loose leaves or a tea bag per cup and wait for 2-3 minutes. I shared some tips on how to brew your tea correctly in my blog.
2. Licorice root tea
Like green tea, licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) tea is effective in soothing a postoperative sore throat. It has anti-inflammatory properties because it contains an active ingredient called glycyrrhizin which triggers the body’s own immune response.
The herb has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and a study from
Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B supports its usefulness. Licorice contains nearly 300 flavonoids and more than 20 triterpenoids – antioxidants responsible for antiviral activity. Among other benefits, licorice is thought to have some anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-microbial, immunoregulatory, and other beneficial activities.
What to avoid
Consumed in large amounts for extended periods of time licorice can raise blood pressure, induce weakness or cause heart problems. Consult with your doctor before drinking licorice root tea.
How to prepare licorice root tea
Use boiling water with one licorice root tea bag or two teaspoons of dried licorice root tea per cup and steep for 5 minutes. You can add some lemon or honey for some vitamin C and better taste.
3. Marshmallow root tea
Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) contains mucilage – a natural gel-like substance, that covers irritated mucosa and provides some relief for a sore throat.
A small German study showed that in 86% and 90% cases marshmallow syrup and lozenges quickly reduced pain and dryness in the throat, and were effective in reducing dry caught and bronchial pain.
What to avoid
Substances found in Marshmallow root can interfere with other medications, so be sure to consult your doctor before use. Avoid it if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have diabetes.
How to prepare marshmallow root tea
Bring water to a boil, then put one teaspoon of marshmallow root per cup and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain the tea into a cup and enjoy with a teaspoon of honey.
4. Slippery elm tea
The inner root of slippery elm tree (Ulmus rubra), like marshmallow root, contains mucilage that coats your throat and provides relief. It can also help with gastrointestinal problems.
What to avoid
Some people may be allergic to slippery elm. Mucilage can coat the stomach and interfere with other medications. Don’t use slippery elm tea for prolonged periods of time.
How to prepare slippery elm tea
Use boiling water with 2 teaspoons of powdered slippery elm bark per cup of tea. Steep of 3-5 minutes, add some honey for better taste if desired.
5. Ginger root tea
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been in use for millennia to treat numerous ailments, such as colds, nausea, migraine, arthritis, and hypertension.
Ginger possesses bioactive components gingerol and shogaol which have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce pain and swelling of the throat. A study published in Indian journal of Dental Research showed that ginger has antimicrobial potential against Streptococcus mutans, Candida albicans, and Enterococcus faecalis – bacteria commonly responsible for oral infections.
What to avoid
Fresh ginger in large doses could induce mouth or throat irritation or diarrhea, but it is generally safe to use.
How to prepare ginger root tea
It’s best to use fresh ginger instead of ginger powder or tea bags to make ginger tea. You will surely find it in your local supermarket. Using fresh ginger ensures you get all the healthy compounds that it can offer.
Slice an inch of fresh ginger. Combine a cup of water and ginger in a pan and bring it to a simmer, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Strain the mixture into a cup and sweeten it with honey and lemon. Drink it hot.
6. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea, probably something your grandma used to drink, is actually an effective beverage to soothe sore throats. In addition, it offers a calming effect that can ease the pain and help you relax.
Chamomile comes in two varieties German (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman (Chamaemelum nobile). Both have been used for the longest time to treat ailments such as hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids.
Dried flowers of chamomile contain terpenoids and flavonoids – antioxidants that contribute to its medicinal properties. Chamomile tea can reduce dryness in the throat by coating it. Also, it’s caffeine-free, so it can be taken anytime, in fact, it can help you sleep better.
What to avoid
Some people are sensitive or allergic to chamomile. It should not be taken in large amounts.
How to prepare chamomile tea
Use boiling water and two tablespoons of dried chamomile flowers per cup. Steep for 5-10 minutes, then add some honey to sweeten it. Drink it hot.
7. Turmeric tea
Turmeric root (Curcuma longa) has been extensively used in traditional medicine due to its active substance curcumin, which shows anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-septic, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-coagulant, anti-diabetic activities among other health benefits.
The antibacterial and antiviral properties of curcumin can ease throat pain and reduce irritation.
What to avoid
Some sources say that high doses of turmeric can negatively affect male fertility, prevent iron absorption, or cause headaches or diarrhea. Additionally, turmeric stains easily, so take precautions.
How to prepare turmeric tea
Use one inch of fresh sliced turmeric or a teaspoon of powdered turmeric per cup of water. Bring water to boil, add turmeric root and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain, sweeten with honey, and serve hot.
8. Peppermint tea
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a very popular ingredient in herbal teas and is commonly used in traditional medicine.
Menthol has an anti-inflammatory and cooling effect, which can relax and soothe a sore throat. In addition, peppermint leaves contain antioxidants and have significant antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
What to avoid
Peppermint is generally safe but can cause heartburn, dry mouth, nausea, or vomiting in some people. The safety of peppermint tea used for periods longer than 8 weeks is unknown, so it’s best to use it occasionally.
How to prepare peppermint tea
Use boiling water and 8 peppermint leaves or a tea bag per cup of tea. Steep for 3-5 minutes then strain the leaves. Sweeten with honey and drink it hot.
My Pick of the best tea to soothe sore throats
If you’ve found yourself asking – what tea is good for a sore throat, and you’d like to combine the benefits of multiple teas covered in the list, this is the tea for you:
This tea includes many of the herbs I included in the list, so you can be sure that it packs a serious punch. With over 95% of very positive reviews, it’s a must-have in the cold season. It’s delicious too!
Other tips to help a sore throat
While drinking tea can help your sore throat, it’s not going to magically fix it. It simply takes time for it to heal. Here are some other things you can do to help it heal faster and smoother:
- Get a doctor to give you a check-up – they can tell you if there’s something more serious than your common cold.
- Stay at home and rest – that goes without saying for all illnesses. Take a sick day from work.
- Use additives such as honey and lemon with your tea. Honey is shown to be as effective (if not more) than your standard cough medicine for children, while ascorbic acid in lemon can prevent some illnesses altogether. However, be advised that honey is not suitable for infants.
If your sickness doesn’t go away for longer than expected or gets worse, go see a doctor. However, some illnesses like the common cold just take time to go away. Until then we can only manage the symptoms.
Green tea and some herbal teas I’ve listed in the article are effective in providing relief for a sore throat. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants and have a multitude of other health benefits. Sweetened with some honey and lemon they become tastier and pack an even stronger healing punch.
Next time you’re having a cold and a sore throat – make a cup of tea.
What is your favorite natural remedy for a sore throat? Let me know in the comments.