What Is Navajo Tea? Answered

A cup of Navajo tea on a Christmas day is the best wake-up drink that gets you out of bed on a high note. But what is Navajo tea? Read on to learn more.

Hands holding tea cup - What is Navajo tea
Navajo tea from the Thelesperma plant

Navajo tea is a lesser-known herbal drink with a grassy, earthy-flavor profile made out of the Thelesperma plant within the sunflower family.

Growing beside lake beds and at the foot of the hills, Thelesperma flowers come out in a gorgeous sun-kissed color, dotting the top of a thin plant.  Navajo tea also goes by the name “green thread.” 

Navajo tea is emerging as a health-promoting drink. It is the pride of the Navajo Nation and has been used for ages to enhance blood circulation and ease the pain.

Let’s dig in to see what’s so special about Navajo tea and how to steep it the right way.

Navajo Tea Origins

Every year from May to September, the iconic yellow Thelesperma flowers bloom in full swing. It can be found in Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and some parts of Canada.  Navajo tea is also found in certain parts of Canada.

For centuries, Thelesperma flowers and Navajo tea has been an essential herbal drink widely popular amongst Native American communities. Today, Navajo tea can also be found in the farmers’ markets, especially in the Southwest and around New Mexico.

You might also be interested in our guide on jujube tea and Kenyan tea

How Is Navajo Tea Harvested?

At the end of the plant’s life cycle, farmers and gardeners will pluck the stem off the plant somewhere three inches above the soil and leave the roots intact. They will then shake the plants until the seeds fall into the ground to begin a new life cycle.

A group of farmers in the field, shaking hands
Farmers harvest Navajo plants at the end of their life cycle

The fresh stems are collected, carefully rinsed, and dried in the sun for no more than two days. Once the tea is thoroughly dried, they will gather it into bundles and boxes before being released to markets.

Today, you’ll see many Navajo tea packages ready-made in teabags. Dried Navajo tea bundles taste a lot better with the strong grassy notes. Each garland (bundle) length is around four inches which can go with six cups of boiling water.

I recommend steeping Navajo tea for no more than seven minutes. You can also add honey or syrup. 

If you love tea, you might enjoy reading about Sencha tea.

What Does Navajo Tea Taste Like?

Navajo tea tastes nothing like any other herbal tea I’ve ever had before. When brewed at its purest form, a cup of Navajo tea sends you back to the wild deserts of America.

Navajo tea is a blissful reminiscence of young green tea minus caffeine. When you drink it hot, Navajo tea has a robust earthy note with fresh grassy hints and a cooling effect if you keep it in your mouth for a while before washing it down. Some Navajo tea also has a touch of pine.

Navajo tea has a robust earthy note

I like to add a dash of honey or a pinch of sugar to a cup of Navajo tea. You can game it up with peppermint or a dash of lime juice to complete its tasting profile, thanks to its cooling effect. If you like Navajo tea, you might also enjoy linden tea.

Health Benefits Of Navajo Tea

As one of the proudest traditional herbal tea by native Americans, Navajo tea boasts a wide range of health-promoting benefits.

  • Navajo tea is famous for curing upset stomachs and boosting the digestive system.
  • As a natural pain reliever, Navajo tea also helps to reduce fever and toothache if used as a mouthwash.
  • Luteolin, a flavonoid found in Navajo tea, is an outstanding anti-inflammatory compound believed to have anti-cancer, diuretic, anti-oxidant, and anti-cataract properties. 
  • Navajo tea also can help ease pain associated with urinary tract infections. 
  • Navajo tea can alleviate menstrual cramps.
  • Navajo tea is believed to enhance blood circulation, especially for those living with low blood pressure, and ultimately prevent heart-related diseases such as strokes and heart attacks.

It’s not yet clear if there are any potential side effects of Navajo tea. If you are pregnant, taking medication, or experiencing high blood pressure, consult a doctor before drinking Navajo tea.


  • Oanh Nguyen

    Born and raised by a traditional mama-barista, Oanh is a typical Viet coffee aficionado who would spend her entire precious Sunday showing you how to categorize coffee beans just by the looks and smells. She enjoys writing about everything drinks-related while sipping her favorite rosebud tea. Find Oanh on LinkedIn.