What’s the Best Tea to Drink When Sick?

From green tea to herbal teas such as echinacea and peppermint, brews are thought to fend off illness. We’ve collated a tea listicle to help you decide what’s the best tea to drink when sick, whether it’s a cold, sore throat, or flu.

More than 159 million Americans drink tea on a daily basis. From the flavor of hot tea to the caffeine it offers drinkers, there are reasons galore that people sip on a cuppa. Herbal tea and green tea are even used as sickness treatments.

Feeling under the weather with a nasty cold? If you fancy trying a simple home remedy, we’ve put together a handy listicle outlining the best teas. Read on to help you decide the brew for you.

Say Yes to More Fluids

If you’ve got cold symptoms or feel the flu coming on, a doctor will no doubt recommend more fluids. Dehydration may occur if you don’t compensate for water loss from runny noses and sweating.

Drinking plenty of water can help speed up your recovery. And hot drinks such as herbal tea can assist, too. The warm liquid soothes your throat and helps reduce congestion. It also contains antibacterial properties that help relieve cold symptoms.

So, although research hasn’t established that drinking tea can completely cure a common cold or flu, there’s evidence that tea mitigates some symptoms.

Herbal Tea

Since ancient days, people use herbs as a natural treatment for cold or flu illnesses. A herb such as a peppermint or licorice contains potent plant compounds that can help fight infections. Mixed with water, they transform into a flavorful tea with health benefits.

1. Lemon Tea

Sipping on lemon tea or squeezing the juice into another type of herbal tea is a home treatment that’s been popular for eons.

Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, an important nutrient when you’re fending off a cold or flu. Not only is vitamin C an antioxidant, but it also boosts the immune system.

2. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea can help you sleep: the chamomile plant leaves have flavonoids in the petals with a tranquilizing reaction.

Okay, so how does that help when you’ve got a virus? You need extra sleep when you’re unwell, to help your body recover. Chamomile tea also has anti-inflammatory properties, adding additional advantages.

You might also be interested in our Ocha tea guide.

3. Ginger Tea

ginger tea with lemon
Ginger tea helps with nausea

Ginger is full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Ginger also prohibits microorganisms that result from infection. Take a sip of spicy ginger tea and your sore throat will ease.

And if you feel sick, ginger tea helps with nausea.

4. Licorice Root Tea

Fancy something on the sweet side? Licorice root tea could be for you. A popular herbal remedy in Chinese medicine, licorice root can be used to treat gastrointestinal issues.

It’s also said to have antimicrobial and antiviral qualities to help with cold symptoms.

5. Peppermint Tea

With a distinct flavor, this minty herbal tea helps get rid of congestion and makes breathing easier. The menthol in the leaves also relieves coughs and colds. What’s more, peppermint tea decreases body aches and inflammation.

Research by the USDA discovered: “Peppermint tea has been found to have significant antimicrobial and antiviral activities, strong antioxidant and antitumor actions, and some antiallergenic potential.”

6. Echinacea Tea

What is Echinacea? A flowering plant in the daisy family that’s been known to improve immunity and inflammation.

This natural remedy has been shown to decrease the odds of developing the common cold by 58%. So, brewed as a tea or taken as a supplement, it may fight off an incoming common cold with its antiviral properties.

best tea to drink when sick - cup of echinacea tea on old wooden table
Echinacea tea may fight off an incoming common cold because of its antiviral properties

7. Nettle Tea

Nettle plants are rich in vitamins and minerals. Two of the most important are carotene and vitamin C. We’ve already mentioned the latter’s benefits.

The former can help your immune system and fights foreign bacteria. While the live plant causes a burning and itching sensation if you touch it, nettle tea can help soothe and alleviate pain. 

8. Hibiscus Tea

A study on rats found hibiscus extract increased antioxidant enzymes and reduced the harmful effects of free radicals by up to 92%. Other research found additional benefits such as fighting bacteria. Also, there are antioxidants in this flowering plant.

Steeped in hot water, this hot herbal tea has a tart flavor likened to cranberries.

9. Elderberry Tea

A key feature of this dark purple berry is its antioxidant properties. Some evidence shows the elderberry can ease the symptoms of sickness and boost the immune system.

When made into an elderberry tea, the drink has been seen to shorten the time spent ill with a common cold or the flu.

True Tea

In contrast to herbal tea, true teas are produced from Camellia sinensis leaves and buds. They contain caffeine, which is not necessarily advisable when you’re unwell. But true teas also offer medicinal benefits that can help when you’re sick.

Continue reading for the lowdown.

1. Green Tea

Green tea contains antioxidants. Antioxidants help you say goodbye to bad bacteria and free radicals. When you sip on a mug of steaming green tea, coughing and congestion can reduce.

green mint tea in glass cup on wooden table
Sipping on a mug of steaming green tea can reduce coughing and congestion

While green tea may give you an energy boost when you’re trying to combat a cold, it’s not clear whether it shortens a cold’s duration.

2. White Tea

White tea is packed with antioxidants. Studies have shown that EGCG (the polyphenol compound that’s found in white tea) suppresses free radicals. And it reduces inflammation, too.

White tea may also lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

3. Black Tea

With antibacterial and antioxidant properties, black tea is said to be a soothing flu-fighting tea. It’s known to alleviate aches and pains, and contains catechins that help you stop getting sick in the first place.

Other Remedies

To fight off a virus, there are plenty more treatments you can use in conjunction with teas. These include chicken soup, honey, and garlic. Other options?

Probiotics, zinc supplements, cough drops, and throat lozenges. Plus over-the-counter medication if you feel you need it. Think about the flu jab, as well.

And seek help from a doctor if necessary.

The Final Word On The Best Tea To Drink When Sick

From herbal teas and blends to more traditional choices, a cup of tea can help relieve the symptoms of the common cold and flu. Hot tea is a simple home remedy that can boost your immune system, rid you of bad germs, and give you a vitamin C hit. Not to mention wrapping you in a comforting, warm hug.

From peppermint, elderberry, and echinacea, to green, lemon, and hibiscus, there’s a range of teas to fight off an illness. Some boast antioxidants and are said to reduce the duration of a cold, others ease a sore throat, or help with flu symptoms.

The best tea will depend on flavor preference and the specific properties you’re looking for.


What is the best tea to drink if you have a cold?

Chamomile tea and peppermint tea have long been favorites. The former boasts anti-inflammatory and sleep-aiding properties. And the latter has antiviral and strong antioxidant properties.

What is the best tea for your immune system?

Ginger, licorice root, and hibiscus tea boost your immune system. Peppermint, chamomile, and green tea have the same impact.

What should you drink when you’re sick?

Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Herbal teas and green teas can help, too. Broth and juice are good options, as well.


  • Laura E

    Laura Evans is a sucker for the smell of freshly ground coffee beans and won't say no to a steaming mug of amber-hued Thai tea.