Although a cold is often more of a nuisance than real illness, it’s certainly irritating. There 2 key things that you need to treat when you have a cold or the flu. First, it’s the symptoms that are dragging you down each day under a blanket of snot and fever. Second, it’s the cause of the flu – the virus or infection that’s causing the trouble in the first place.
A simple cup of tea could be the trick to solving both problems. It’s kind of a miracle drink in this sense! Sipping a hot cup of tea when it’s cold outside is a lovely moment and one ingrained throughout history. Each historical culture had an herbal brew or tea that was used to treat colds.
So, if you’re feeling under the weather with your cold but can’t justify taking painkillers or medication, herbal tea could soothe your symptoms and potentially help you get better sooner!
Best Teas for A Cold
Tea is such a great drink for a cold or flu. Putting aside the properties of the tea ingredients for a moment, having a hot cup of tea can:
- Loosen mucus and a blocked nose just from having a warm drink.
- Help you stay warm if you’re feeling cold, or help you sweat out a fever (see ginger and cayenne below).
- Keep you hydrated.
- Help you flush out the bacteria and virus from your system.
- Keep you awake and alert or soothe you off to a peaceful sleep depending on the tea.
Whether you just don’t like drinking water or desperately need a home remedy to get rid of your cold as quickly as possible, any of these teas could help you enormously.
Green Tea for Colds
Green tea is our top choice for a tea to drink when you have a cold. It’s refreshing, naturally sweet and gently replenishes your energy with a low level of caffeine and l-theanine. Mentally, it prepares you for the healing process, keeping you awake and alert yet calm and focused on getting better. Physically, green tea is a great anti-inflammatory drink. It soothes your throat, chest and nose if they’re red, sore and inflamed from your cold or flu.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants too, which neutralise free radicals and bacteria that could make your cold worse. Brewing green tea is easy, simply submerge 1 teaspoon of green tea or 1 green tea bag in a mug of 80°C water for a few minutes. It goes very well with other ingredients such as lemon, honey, spices and herbs that can fight off your cold too.
Black Tea for Colds
A hot cup of black tea is probably the most comforting drink on this list if you’re accustomed to having a black tea each day. Black tea contains catechins that can fight off bacteria and viruses that cause the cold and flu. Drinking this tea every day could shorten the duration of your cold.
The caffeine gives you a little more energy to do those essential tasks (get out of bed, wash, make more tea, etc.) as it contains 50mg per cup on average. Like all teas, it also contains l-theanine to prevent you from having that caffeine crash at the end of the day. This tea can also reduce inflammation so is excellent for soothing a sore, inflamed throat. Try your black tea with a teaspoon of honey instead of milk!
White Tea for Colds
White tea is the least processed of all tea types, making it the best for healing, cold-soothing properties. Compared to green tea, black tea and all other types of teas, white tea has the highest level of antioxidants.
White tea can also have a high level of caffeine, as the buds tend to be more caffeine-rich than the lower leaves. But this also means it has higher levels of l-theanine, the amino acid that promotes feelings of calmness. Being stressed and worried is only going to slow down the healing process, so a cup of l-theanine rich white tea is ideal!
Brew 1 teaspoon of whole leaf white tea in 80°C water for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain out the leaves and sip slowly.
Ginger Tea for Colds
Ginger tea is undoubtedly the most popular and well-known herbal tea for colds and flu. Ginger antioxidants and compounds can actually kill the rhinoviruses that are the cause of the common cold. The gingerol in ginger cures a sore throat quickly and the warming, fiery flavour is very good for keeping you warm. It improves circulation too!
You can drink as many cups as you need of ginger tea. 2 or 3 a day is usually about right to help you recover from your cold quickly. Ginger on its own can be quite a strong flavour but fear not. Ginger has anti-nausea properties and actually settles your stomach rather than turning it upside down. Try ginger tea with a teaspoon of honey and a slice of lemon to create a power drink for the flu season!
Honey Lemon Tea for Colds
Honey and lemon are a classic cold combination, especially when combined with some fresh ginger. Lemon is quite acidic by itself, while honey can be overpoweringly sweet. Combine the two and you’re on to a winner.
The lemon cuts through mucus in your throat while providing your body with immune system boosting vitamin C. Honey, on the other hand, offers you a little energy if you’ve lost your appetite for solid food. Honey also relieves sore throat and coughs – there’s quite a bit of evidence to show that honey can be a very effective cough remedy.
Try infusing a tablespoon of lemon juice (or just a slice of fresh lemon) in boiling water with a teaspoon or two of runny honey.
Peppermint Tea for Colds
Like chili and cayenne pepper (more on cayenne tea below), menthol clears out your pipes! The refreshing, airy feeling that menthol has can unblock a blocked nose and clear mucus off your chest. If you cold or flu is accompanied by a sore throat, peppermint is even more suitable. The coolness of peppermint tea can numb the pain in your throat. Just bear in mind that it can make acid reflux flare up, so drink it in moderation.
Drink hot peppermint tea if you’re feeling cold and need warming up or try iced peppermint tea if you have a fever that needs to be brought down or a sore throat to quickly numb. Use a teaspoon of dried leaves, 1 tea bag, or several teaspoons of fresh peppermint leaves per mug.
Chamomile Tea for Colds
Chamomile, although relaxing and soothing, is often thought of as a light and summery drink. It has a mellow, fresh hay and sweet honey floral aroma and flavour. It’s certainly great when iced but drinking hot chamomile tea can also help ease away your cold. Chamomile flowers can fight infections that cause colds and even relieve menstrual cramps (although that’s not related, it’s still good to know). It’s also good for a sore throat and for helping you sleep at night when you’re feeling unwell.
To make chamomile tea, infuse 1 teaspoon of dried flowers or several teaspoons of fresh flowers in freshly boiled water. Chamomile tea goes very well with a drop or two of honey.
Unfortunately, chamomile tea is not recommended to drink if you are pregnant.
Turmeric Tea for Colds
If the flavour doesn’t make you feel warm and comforted, the sunny colour certainly will. Turmeric is a bright yellow-orange spice that people love mixing with hot milk, ginger and/or honey to create a thick, supercharging winter drink. Turmeric certainly won’t cure a cold or the flu, but it can help you ease some of the symptoms.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and contains a lot of antioxidants, similar to green and white tea. It can help your immune system and keep your spirits up. Combine a ¼ teaspoon of turmeric with a slice vitamin C rich lemon and a cube of healing ginger to create a super turmeric latte that warms you right down to your toes.
Cinnamon Tea for Colds
We often see cinnamon listed as an ingredient in teas for a cold, alongside ginger and honey. While it’s not going to cure a cold or prevent the flu, it can be quite soothing. Cinnamon contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. So, if your throat and nose are sore or inflamed from coughing, cinnamon tea can soothe it. Try a ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon in your honey, lemon or ginger tea to add a little natural sweetness and warming, Christmas-like flavour. Grinding fresh cinnamon sticks will result in a better tasting and more nutritious tea, but don’t worry if you don’t feel up to it. Pre-ground cinnamon works just fine.
That’s bound to cheer you up a bit!
Clove Tea for Colds
Clove tea can lessen a cold by lifting the mucus out of your chest, making it easier to breathe and prevent a cold from weighing you down. Cloves have quite a pungent, strong floral aroma and flavour that some people really don’t like – that’s fine! Try infusing just 1 clove in a mug of boiling water with other spices you like, such as star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg or just a good dose of sweet honey.
Clove is also a very cleansing, natural cleaner. You can use clove oil to clear up skin problems or clove water to wash your hands even. If you’re worried about bacteria and infections while you have a cold or the flu, a cup of clove tea could really help.
Cayenne Tea for Colds
The last spice herb on our best teas for a cold list. Cayenne is a common spice used in fiery, warm dishes. You’ve probably noticed how it can really get your nose running! One great way to get some cayenne is to add it to the classic cold-busting chicken soup. But making into tea, or adding it to your usual tea, can work just as well if not better.
Cayenne is quite hot and fiery. It turns thick, heavy mucus on your chest or in your nose into a more liquid state, making it easier to blow out and helping you breathe easier. It also can make you sweat out a fever – by stimulating sweat glands, you’ll perspire more and thus cool your body down quicker. ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (the kind you find at the supermarket) plus a squeeze of lemon or honey, is the best way to make this tea.
Elderberry Tea for Colds
Elderberries and elderflower are from the same plant – both are common ingredients in herbal blends. The elderberries are a good choice if you have a cold. You could harvest them yourself if you’re lucky enough to be near an elder plant at the end of summer, but you can easily find elderberry teas at the supermarket or online instead. Elderberry is shown to have antiviral and antimicrobial properties, so it can assist your body with fighting off those cold and flu pathogens.
There’s not a great deal of evidence that elderberry can minimise a cold, but it is a nutritious tea to drink nonetheless. It’s particularly high in vitamin C and zinc, so could even prevent a cold from developing.
Echinacea Tea for Colds
Saying this tea out loud with a blocked nose is never fun, but it’s worth asking for this herb at the supermarket or looking for herbal blends that contain it. Echinacea is a tasty herb from the purple coneflower plant. Like green tea, it’s rich in antioxidants. There’s little scientific evidence that echinacea can cure a cold or even treat it, but many people still swear by it to shorten the flu period. You can find echinacea blends with other cold tea types, like elderberry and chamomile. It may be worth a shot and at the very least you’ll be keeping yourself hydrated!
Quickly Recover from A Cold by Drinking Tea
Whether you just need to get more fluids or flush out your synesis, a hot cup of tea can do wonders for your cold or symptoms of the flu. Whether all these herbal teas mentioned can actually help you get over your illness or not is still under debate. Nonetheless, the scientific proof that having a hot drink, relaxing, boosting your system with antioxidants and flushing out your system by rehydrating is an excellent way to get over your cold quicker.
Put your feet up, stay warm and relaxed with your cuppa and don’t overdo it. The key to getting over your cold or flu is to let your body heal itself.
When you’ve maxed out on your cold medication and need something herbal, soothing and safe to consume, reach for one of our recommended tea for a cold or flu. We hope you feel better soon!