The irony isn’t lost on me that, immediately as I sat down to write this, I started having a coughing attack that only stopped after several minutes and two glasses of water. Like many folks, these past few months have been a season of sickness. Week after week, my life seems to cycle between I feel great! and Why the heck can’t I stop coughing? Seriously—following a few years mostly indoors, my immune system is not up to par. And no matter how many green smoothies I suck down or hot broths I sip on throughout the day, I can’t seem to quit my cough. Enter: the best teas for sore throat symptoms that are *finally* giving me some relief.
… and my partner, because I have to imagine the combination of me complaining about a sore throat and coughing all throughout the night is enough to make him question the relationship. (Kidding!) But seriously, for all of us who have googled ‘best teas for sore throat’ and ended up here, you know the struggle well. Irritation, illness, and infection are the three alliterative consistencies that define many of our lives in the winter—excuse me, “flu season.” And while we could certainly wait until things run their course come spring, a warm cup of tea (or for some, a steaming-hot cup of tea!) is a faster-acting solution.
So please, give me all the inflammation-fighting ingredients, chamomile tea blends that ease discomfort, and any of the salves known to soothe my sore throat pain. Let’s dive in and get ready to chat all things tea.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
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Why Teas Can Soothe a Sore Throat
For many, teas sit among our top home remedies for sore throats. And while the flavor provides comfort on its own, we turn to it for more than taste. According to Mount Sinai Health, pharyngitis, commonly known as sore throat, is an inflammation of the pharynx. And unfortunately, the virus can’t be treated with antibiotics alone. That’s where self-care comes into play: cough drops, lozenges, OTC pain relievers are all recommended, but warm liquids like water with honey and lemon or tea should be a go-to.
Why? Well, you’ve likely heard—whether from a doctor or a parent in the past—that it’s important to stay hydrated when you’re sick. Consuming fluids moistens the throat, in turn reducing pain. But more than simply drinking water and electrolyte beverages, warm liquids offer an especially soothing sensation. And when you add to that the understanding that certain teas come with anti-inflammatory properties, well, all the more reason to brew a cuppa.
So let’s take a look at the best teas for throat irritation. I’m sharing the top picks below as well as our favorite brands for helping you soothe that sore throat, stat.
The Best Teas for Sore Throat Symptoms
Editor’s note: This article is not meant to be used in place of medical care. Please consult your medical provider before beginning any treatment.
Licorice Root Tea
One of our Wellness Editor’s favorite health topics is medicinal herbs—and licorice root is one of her go-to’s for sore throats. Edie wrote previously that licorice root may contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects and research suggests that it may ease upper respiratory infections.
Would it really be a list of the best teas for relieving sore throat pain without including the most popular anti-inflammatory ingredient? We’ve written before about turmeric’s many benefits and love including it in our cold-winter meals for an extra boost of antioxidants and antiseptic properties. Turmeric tea bags are widely available, but you can also make our favorite tasty golden milk before bed to ease your way to sleep.
Have you already hopped on the green tea bandwagon for its mood-boosting effects? Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Not only that, but dietician Carolyn Leonard, RD, CDN spoke to us previously, sharing that L-theanine has also been shown to improve focus, sleep, immunity, and cognitive performance. The act of sipping tea alone can cause stress levels to fall—a bonus for just about every health condition.
But as far as sore throats are concerned, green tea’s antioxidant properties are known to boost overall cellular health and fight illness in the body.
Peppermint tea, like green tea, boasts many of the same antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits as green tea, making it one of the best teas for sore throat symptoms. But what’s more, peppermint contains menthol. According to One Medical, menthol in peppermint “cools inflamed throat tissue and may have anti-inflammatory effects to reduce the swelling in your sinuses.”
Marshmallow Root Tea
When I first caught wind of Marshmallow Root (through one of my favorite herbalism resources, The Kosmic Kitchen), I was anticipating something that tasted like, well… marshmallows. Thankfully, the flavor doesn’t even come close. It has a bit of an earthy, woody flavor—and I like to add a little honey to make it sweeter. Marshmallow root contains mucilage, which has been said to coat and soothe the throat.
If you’re like us, your favorite morning beverage is a mug of warm water and lemon juice. And the good news: your body loves you for it! Lemons contain Vitamin C (1/6 of your daily recommended amount in half a lemon). Vitamin C provides antioxidants and supports your immune system to help fight off cold symptoms.
Last but not least, the powerful and mighty ginger tea. Ginger tea contains gingerol, a compound known to reduce excess inflammation. Because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, ginger is a soothing antidote to the common cold and a powerful way to nip sickness in the bud.
The 10 Best Teas for Sore Throat Symptoms You Can Buy Now
DONA Flirt Loose Leaf Herbal Tea
I can’t express the extent to which I love this tea. To begin my love letter: the packaging. It’s beautifully minimalist, with a calming off-white canister that I’m proud to stash in my pantry front and center. The loose leaf blend contains single-origin hibiscus petals, sweet licorice root, mint, and chamomile blossoms. The hibiscus gives each pot a beautifully muted pink hue and its soothing, super-powered blend is sore throat-fighting magic.
Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat Herbal Tea
What’s in a name? When you’re faced with a wall of tea boxes staring back at you in the supermarket, it can be hard to choose. Thankfully, your instincts to pick up this box aren’t leading you astray. Slippery elm, according to the National Institute of Health, is a solid option for soothing throat pain because of its mucilage content.
Rishi Tea Turmeric Ginger
Any and all blends of Rishi Tea are a delight—and this turmeric-ginger option is no different. The Ayurveda-inspired blend harnesses the power of turmeric, ginger, lemon, and honey to create a flavor that’s subtly sweet, a little bit spicy, and with just a touch of heat. It also contains licorice root for added benefit.
Smith Tea Peppermint Leaves
Even when I don’t have a sore throat, I love brewing up a bag of Smith Tea’s Peppermint Leaves as an after-meal treat. The flavor is intense but smooth, with deep and indulgent chocolatey notes. Because it’s caffeine-free, this is a sore throat-soother you can enjoy before going to sleep.
Edobio Relax Flow Tea
I’ll reach for a warm mug of tea in the winter, but for those summers when I catch a mid-season cold (it happens), I’m grateful for tea blends like this that can be enjoy chilled. Lemon verbena, chamomile, calendula, elder flower, and rooibos make this a calming option that’s perfect for unwinding any time of day.
Pukka Lemon, Ginger & Manuka Honey
Lemon, ginger, and manuka honey: otherwise known as the trifecta of ingredients with the potential to soothe any sore throat. This particular blend uses Sicilian lemons, slow-dried ginger root, and FairWild-certified elderflowers. It’s a caffeine-free blend that you’ll happily drink well into the day.
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