There’s nothing like a hot cup of tea when you have a cold. It warms you up, hydrates, and soothes your throat. But not all teas are equally effective at treating scratching and pain; some provide better relief than others. To maximize your comfort, Study Finds went looking for the consensus best teas for a sore throat, according to experts.
A sore throat is one of the most debilitating cold symptoms. “The impact of a sore throat can be underestimated—that is, until you have one yourself. Sore throats are inconvenient, painful, and can ultimately make people miss out on things they want and need to do,” says ENT surgeon Dr. Omid Mehdizadeh.
Unfortunately, 63 percent of Americans feel that a sore throat is no longer a good enough reason to call in sick since the pandemic. But “just a cold” still calls for treatment.
“Relieving any symptoms that arise is just as important [as avoiding getting sick], as even a small cold can bring on a runny nose, nasal congestion and minor sore throat pain that can interfere with your ability to perform while working from home,” says Janick Boudazin, pharmacist and CEO of Boiron.
Luckily, a remedy as simple and inexpensive as hot tea can help you treat your cold symptoms. The many health benefits of tea reach from relaxation to preventing cancer! To find the best tea for a sore throat, Study Finds visited 10 websites by health- and tea experts to put together a list of the top five herbal remedies.
Before you enjoy a cup, please consult with your doctor, especially if you are taking medications or are pregnant or nursing. If you have your own suggestions, please add them to the comments section below!
The List: Best Teas To Soothe Sore Throats, Warmly Recommended By Pros
1. Licorice Root Tea
Depending on your taste buds, this number one could be good or bad news. While licorice-flavor is not everyone’s cup of tea, licorice root tea is the top brewable remedy for a sore throat.
“Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help soothe a sore throat,” Well+Good quotes Dr. Brad DeSilva at Ohio State University. The bitter plant “has natural antiviral and antimicrobial properties that are both great to help the pain and irritation of a sore throat,” adds ENT Dr. Shawn Nasseri.
Having been “a staple of Chinese medicine for centuries,” licorice root “contains more than 300 flavonoids that boost overall health (Sencha Tea Bar).” Just don’t drink too much: Licorice “can also be dangerous in large quantities, so be sure to consult your doctor before use,” cautions All Recipes. It is also not safe if you’re pregnant or nursing.
2. Marshmallow Root Tea
This one sounds yummy, but don’t get too excited. Marshmallow root does not taste like marshmallows.
On the bright side, like licorice root, the plant is a demulcent, “a mucilaginous agent that forms a soothing film over the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, relieving irritation, pain, and inflammation,” says M.D. Heather Moday in MindBodyGreen.
Research indicates that it also has anti-inflammatory properties, according to the DrFarrahMD website, and can “help alleviate cough—a cold symptom that can worsen sore throat pain (Sencha Tea Bar).”
3. Chamomile Tea
You probably already have this one in your pantry, because of the herb’s many benefits. “Chamomile is especially effective at soothing a sore throat. Some other benefits of chamomile tea include calming nerves, promoting relaxation, and inducing sleep (Artful Tea).”
Chamomile tea soothes your throat by boasting “antibacterial properties that fight off bacterial infections […] Chamomile tea also boasts anti-inflammatory capabilities, which help to soothe sore throat pain and redness,” say the experts at Sencha Tea Bar.
Moreover, this tea is “also an antispasmodic, meaning it can help to reduce any coughing as well. And inhaling chamomile steam is a popular home remedy for treating respiratory issues associated with the common cold (All Recipes).”
4. Green Tea
This tea is another pantry staple. Green tea is not only a gentle way to caffeinate; it offers many health benefits because it’s “packed with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. But the true illness-fighting power comes from its high antioxidant content,” knows All Recipes.
In addition, green tea “has natural anti-inflammatory properties […] In a study reported in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, scientists found that gargling green tea helped ward off sore throat symptoms in postoperative patients,” Healthline reports.
But that’s not all! Sencha Tea Bar says that green tea even has “been shown to have antiviral activities on diseases including influenza A and adenovirus—a virus that causes cold-like symptoms including a sore throat and bronchitis.”
5. Tie: Peppermint / Slippery Elm / Ginger Tea
Yes you read that right. According to our consulted websites, you can take your pick – all these teas are in a triple-tie for our number 5.
Slippery Elm is another demulcent. Tea from this plant “contains biochemical components known as mucilage and tannins. Mucilage […] coats the mucous membranes, helping to ease throat pain and lessen coughing episodes. Tannins produce anti-inflammatory effects to lessen throat irritation and boost the immune system by encouraging the production of cytokines (Sencha Tea Bar).”
Peppermint is beneficial for a sore throat because it “contains menthol and exhibits antibacterial and antiviral properties as well as an antitussive effect,” writes MindBodyGreen, but points out that additional research is needed “for more conclusive evidence” of its antiviral properties.
Last but not least, “ginger contains a wealth of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to fight off the causes of a sore throat at their root. In addition, other ginger tea benefits include reducing nausea, soothing inflammation, and aiding in digestion (Artful Tea).”
- Women’s Health
- Sencha Tea Bar
- Artful Tea
- All Recipes
- Sivana Spirit
- Dr. Farrah MD
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.