A woman drinking tea for a cough

A woman drinking tea for a cough (Photo by Roman Samborskyi on Shutterstock)

Coughs can be a persistent and bothersome symptom, whether caused by a cold, allergies, or other respiratory conditions. While there are numerous over-the-counter remedies available, many people are turning to natural alternatives to alleviate their coughs. One such remedy that has gained popularity is the use of herbal teas. Not only do these teas provide soothing relief, but they also offer a host of other health benefits. Today, we will explore some of the best teas for a cough, backed by centuries of traditional use, so you can say goodbye to that annoying cough.

One may be asking themselves, however, what are the benefits of tea for a cough? Well, the reasons why tea is a warm hug for your cough are simple:

  • Hydration hero: Coughs can zap your fluids, and tea is like an IV drip of deliciousness, replenishing moisture to soothe your throat and loosen phlegm.
  • Steam power: Breathe in the warm, gentle steam from your cup. It can help open up your airways and ease congestion, making those hacking fits a little less frequent.
  • Anti-inflammatory all-star: Many teas are packed with natural anti-inflammatories. They’re like firefighters for your irritated throat tissues, reducing redness and pain.
  • Mucus mover: Feeling like a fog monster? Certain teas have expectorant properties. They can help loosen and break up that phlegm, making it easier to cough up and say goodbye to gunk.
  • Throat soother: Sore throat got you feeling like a cat swallowed your voice? Warm liquids are magic for a scratchy throat, and tea takes it up a notch with its gentle coating effect. Bonus points for adding honey, a natural soother.
  • Immune booster: Feeling under the weather? Teas are loaded with antioxidants and immune-supportive compounds. They can help your body fight off the nasties causing your cough in the first place.

Remember, however, that tea is a natural remedy, not a cure-all. If your cough is persistent or severe, consult a healthcare professional. But for a gentle, soothing hand to hold (or rather, cup to sip), tea is your friend. And now that we know the soothing and healing effects tea may have for you, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of the herbal blends you can enjoy to nip that cough in the bud! As always, we at StudyFinds have researched across multiple expert sources to bring you today’s list of the top seven best teas for a cough you can try today! Don’t agree with our list or feel we missed out on a good suggestion? No worries, we would love to hear from you in the comments down below! 

person putting honey on tea
Tea with honey (Photo by Angello Pro on Unsplash)

The List: Best Teas for a Cough, Per Health Experts

1. Honey

Honey tea, also known as herbal tea with honey, is a delightful and soothing beverage that has gained popularity for its unique combination of flavors and health benefits. This aromatic drink is made by either mixing various herbs or flowers with hot water and then adding a touch of honey or simply mixing hot water with the sweet liquid. “Honey’s a tried-and-true cough suppressant, and stirring it into hot water can offer extra relief. Findings show that it boasts antimicrobial properties that fight germs, while the sweet stuff’s sticky texture temporarily coats your throat,” says Greatist.

honey jar with honey comb
Honey (Photo by Arwin Neil Baichoo on Unsplash)

“Along with helping soothe a sore throat, honey can be equally effective at relieving cough symptoms. Studies of children have found honey to be effective at relieving nighttime coughs and improving sleep. However, do not give honey to children under one year of age due to a risk of infant botulism, a severe form of food poisoning,” advises Healthline.

“Honey tea is nothing but warm water with raw honey. It is a natural way to ease the symptoms of cough and cold. It also provides some relief to your sore throat by reducing internal inflammation. Studies suggest that raw honey can be a natural cough suppressant and reduce the production of mucus. Honey also helps to reduce the severity and duration of cough. Stirring a few drops of honey into your favorite herbal tea may also help to loosen phlegm, soothe pain, and suppress a cough,” adds Pharmeasy.

2. Licorice Root

Licorice root tea is an herbal infusion that has been enjoyed for centuries due to its numerous health benefits and unique flavor profile. Derived from the root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant, this tea is known for its distinct sweet and earthy taste. “Licorice root tea is made from the root of the licorice plant. It’s not the same as those sweet red candies, though; think more in terms of black licorice. The flavor is slightly bitter and salty with sweet undertones. Licorice root is a staple of Chinese herbal medicine and one of the best teas you can drink to tackle a cough,” states Sencha Tea Bar.

Amazon's overall pick: FullChea Licorice Root Tea
Amazon’s overall pick: FullChea Licorice Root Tea

“Speaking of licorice root, yup, science says this stuff can help tamp down inflammation as well as kill off some bacteria, fungi, and viruses. One study even found that licorice reduced the incidence of cough in mice by up to 78 percent,” notes Greatist.

“Licorice root is a very common herb and has been frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Over 300 flavonoids and plant compounds have been isolated from this herb alone. These bioactive compounds translate into potent antimicrobial and antiviral benefits, which could help to treat the root cause of your cough,” comments Real Simple.

3. Peppermint

Peppermint tea is a popular herbal infusion known for its refreshing and invigorating properties. Made from the leaves of the peppermint plant, this tea has been enjoyed for centuries for its soothing and calming effects on the mind and body. “Delicious peppermint is best known for soothing digestive issues and nausea, but it is also a great herbal tea to choose when you have a wet, productive cough. The menthol in peppermint acts as an expectorant, helping to loosen mucus and clear your airways. Peppermint is also naturally antiviral, which means it can help to kill off the pathogens causing your cough,” reports Nutratea.

365 by Whole Foods Market Peppermint Tea
Amazon’s Overall Pick: 365 by Whole Foods Market Peppermint Tea

“In addition to the distinctive flavor of peppermint tea, you consume the menthol found in the leaves. It has similar properties to cough drops and eases breathing by clearing up congestion. Drinking peppermint tea for cough also lessens aches, pains, and inflammation. You can use fresh peppermint leaves to make tea by boiling them in boiling water, steep for about five minutes, and then straining them,” explains Seven Teas.

“The cool, minty sensation can temporarily numb throat pain, and if you have a stuffy nose, it might make it easier to breathe. But that’s not all. Research shows that peppermint has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that could help ward off germs,” describes Greatist.

4. Marshmallow Root

Derived from the root of the marshmallow plant, this tea is known for its soothing and healing properties. With a history dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece, marshmallow root has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. “The name may bring to mind s’mores, but this marshmallow has nothing to do with sweet treats. Marshmallow is a root and another excellent herbal option for cough symptoms due to its mucilage properties,” says Real Simple.

CELEBRATION HERBALS Marshmallow Leaf & Root
CELEBRATION HERBALS Marshmallow Leaf & Root Tea

“Marshmallow root has been used in herbal medicine for centuries to ease coughs, colds, and skin problems. Marshmallow root seems to act as an enzyme to help loosen mucus and inhibit bacteria, according to a 2017 study. Marshmallow root may affect the absorption of orally taken medications so taking marshmallow root several hours before or after taking oral medications is best. Do not use marshmallow root tea if you are pregnant,” recommends Healthline.

“Marshmallow root tea contains mucilage. Mucilage is a thick, gooey substance that will help coat the inside of the throat, reducing throat pain. It is also great at treating cough symptoms such as an annoying tickle in your throat. This tea contains many pain-relieving properties and can also help treat acid reflux caused by the common cold,” writes Fire Belly Tea.

5. Green Tea

Green tea is a popular beverage that has been enjoyed for centuries. With its distinct flavor and delicate aroma, green tea has gained a reputation as a soothing and refreshing drink. “Considered one of the ‘true teas’ since it, along with black, white, and oolong, all come from the Camellia sinensis plant. The only difference between these teas is the amount of processing and oxidization,” explains Fire Belly Tea.

white and green box of tea bags
StudyFinds’ number one pick for green tea: Rishi Sencha Organic Green Tea

“Gargling the grassy sipper has been shown to reduce coughing, thanks in part to its anti-inflammatory compounds. Its antimicrobial compounds might thwart the growth of some bacteria and viruses, too,” describes Greatist.

“Like licorice root, green tea is also chock-full of bioactive plant compounds with anti-inflammatory powers and antibacterial benefits, making it another smart tea choice for managing a cough and its cause. Some research has also found green tea to be helpful for cough symptoms specifically,” notes Real Simple.

6. Ginger

Ginger tea, also known as ginger root tea, is a popular herbal infusion that has been enjoyed for years due to its numerous health benefits and refreshing taste. This warming beverage is made by steeping fresh ginger root in hot water, allowing its natural oils and compounds to infuse the liquid. “The amazing and mighty ginger tea helps relieve cold and flu symptoms such as nausea, problematic coughs, sore throat pain, and more! Fresh ginger also contains many beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. You’ll notice many sore throat remedies like ginger cough drops available at almost every pharmacy,” comments Fire Belly Tea.

FGO Organic Ginger Tea, Eco-Conscious Tea Bags

FGO Organic Ginger Tea, Eco-Conscious Tea Bags

“The spicy root has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, along with compounds that could help encourage your airway to relax. Combined that could soothe throat irritation and help you ease up on the coughing,” raves Greatist.

“Ginger is another accessible ingredient that’s been used for centuries to manage a cough, including in tea form. Ginger is an herb for congested and boggy coughs, as it acts as a stimulating expectorant, which helps to thin mucus and your body expel it from your lungs,” reports Real Simple.

7. Thyme

Made from the leaves of the thyme plant, this tea is known for its rich aroma and earthy taste. It is often consumed for its medicinal properties, as it is believed to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects. “This tea may not be as well-known as the other teas on our list, but it is just as effective. Thyme tea is a great way to relieve congestion and relieve your cough,” states Fire Belly Tea.

Good Nature Organic Wild Thyme Tea
Good Nature Organic Wild Thyme Tea

“Thyme’s antimicrobial activity could help combat the germs and inflammation that are causing your cough, findings suggest. And when combined with ivy, thyme extract was shown to reduce coughing fits more than a placebo in people with bronchitis,” adds Greatist.

“Thyme is antispasmodic and has been used to relieve coughs for centuries. As an expectorant, it also helps to loosen phlegm and mucus. When your cough is accompanied by a wet, bunged-up feeling, an herbal tea blend that contains thyme is an excellent choice,” concludes Nutratea.

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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.

About Jilly Hite

Janelle is a freelance writer from New York. Her writing focuses on parenting, tech, business, interior design, education, and telling people’s inspiring stories. Janelle has written for Mustela and Newton Baby and has bylines in Pregnant Chicken, Syracuse Woman Magazine, the Baldwinsville Messenger, and Family Times Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in literacy from the State University of New York at Oswego.

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