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Top 10 Types of Tea For Cough with Tips for Preparation and Consumption

Marion Sereti

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September 5, 2023
CoughPro is not a medical product. It is a wellness app intended only for users to obtain a better understanding of their cough. It is not intended to diagnose, monitor, or treat any illness.

We at Hyfe, Inc., are a company devoted to working on tools to better understand the importance of cough. It is Hyfe’s intention in the future to seek regulatory approval for medical products that analyze cough in order that they may be used to diagnose, monitor, and facilitate better treatment of respiratory illnesses.

A person pouring a cup of tea

With its warming properties and natural ingredients, tea has long been considered a comforting elixir for cough relief. Tea is more than just a flavorful beverage; it contains compounds that can relieve common cough symptoms. 

The steam from a cup of hot tea can help loosen congestion in the respiratory tract, while the natural properties of herbs and spices found in certain teas can have soothing effects on the throat and ease irritation.

With so many types of tea available, what teas are good for cough? This blog post will explore the soothing benefits of various teas, highlight some of the best tea blends to help alleviate cough symptoms, as well as provide useful tips on how to prepare each type of tea.

#1 Green Tea

Green tea, made from the plant Camellia sinensis, is rich in antioxidants known as catechins. These antioxidants help strengthen the immune system, combat oxidative stress, and reduce inflammation in the respiratory system1. By supporting overall immune function, green tea can aid in fighting off infections that may cause or exacerbate coughing.

The warmth of a cup of green tea can help soothe an irritated throat and reduce discomfort caused by coughing2. The natural polyphenols, such as catechins, in green tea possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can help ease the irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract. A study conducted in 20153 examined the effects of gargling with green tea after a surgical procedure involving intubation. The researchers discovered that while green tea did not alleviate hoarseness, it effectively decreased coughing.

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

Green tea's gentle, comforting nature will help individuals with dry, scratchy throats. You should brew green tea between 160–180°F/70–80°C. Green tea can be prepared in several ways:

  • If using green tea leaves – Start by boiling a cup of water and then allowing it to cool for one minute. Put around one teaspoon of tea leaves in the water for three to five minutes before straining and allowing the tea to cool slightly. Slowly sip and allow it to soothe your throat.
  • For green tea powder – Put around one-and-a-half teaspoons of powder in boiled and slightly cooled water and allow it to steep for about three minutes before straining, cooling, and enjoying the tea.
  • Alternatively, pre-made green tea is available in various forms and can be prepared following the instructions provided on the product.

#2 Licorice Root Tea

Licorice tea is renowned for its naturally sweet flavor, making it a pleasant and popular alternative to traditional teas in China. The natural taste comes from glycyrrhizin, a compound found in licorice root.

Research indicates4 that consuming a comforting mug of licorice tea can provide anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial benefits. This herbal tea is particularly effective in bolstering the immune system, inhibiting the growth of detrimental pathogens, preventing cell damage, and reducing respiratory infections.

Its properties5 help ease coughs, reduce throat irritation, and promote respiratory health. The soothing effect of licorice tea makes it popular during cold and flu seasons or when experiencing respiratory congestion.

When consumed in moderation, licorice root tea can relieve and promote respiratory health.

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

  • Use fresh licorice root – One inch of fresh licorice root should be simmered in eight ounces/220 ml of boiling water for five to ten minutes to make a cup of licorice root tea. Sip it to soothe your cough.
    • You can add some raw honey or lemon juice to balance the flavor if it is too strong.
  • Another option is to gargle with warm licorice root tea rather than drink it:
    • Combine a teaspoon of salt with the licorice root tea concentrate to further soothe a scratchy throat. 
    • Swish the warm but not hot liquid in the back of your throat for 30 to 60 seconds. 
    • When you've finished gargling, spit out the liquid and rinse your mouth.

#3 Peppermint Tea

Menthol, a potent active compound found in mint, possesses antibacterial properties and can assist in mucus breakdown and throat soothing. Menthol is a component of peppermint which is a compound that acts as a decongestant and can help soothe an irritated throat. Peppermint tea can provide relief from cough and help clear the airways, making it easier to breathe.

Among different mint varieties, peppermint stands out for having the highest concentration of menthol. Peppermint oil, for instance, contains up to 55% menthol6, whereas spearmint has only trace amounts7. Studies indicate that whether consumed as tea8 or inhaled as a vapor, peppermint tea can effectively relieve cough symptoms.

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

  • Add a handful of fresh peppermint leaves to a cup of hot water to prepare peppermint tea. 
  • Allow the leaves to steep in the water for approximately five minutes. Strain the leaves, and your refreshing peppermint tea is ready for consumption.

Alternatively, you can try steam inhalation with peppermint tea. This method can assist in loosening chest congestion and alleviating coughing fits.

#4 Ginger Tea

In both Chinese and Indian medicinal traditions, ginger root tea has long been utilized as a traditional remedy for coughs. This aromatic tea is known for its anti-inflammatory9 properties, and the spicy nature of ginger aids in opening up the airways, providing relief.

This suggests that ginger root tea could be a beneficial addition to a cough treatment plan.

Ginger has been used for centuries due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Ginger tea can help reduce inflammation in the airways and relieve congestion.

The beneficial effects of ginger have been documented in various studies, and scientific evidence supports the notion that ginger can help to relax the muscles in the airways. For example, a recent study involving 92 asthma patients10 found that ginger significantly reduced symptoms of nocturnal coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. 

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

  • Begin by heating a cup of water in a small saucepan until it reaches boiling point. 
  • Then, introduce a slice of fresh or dried ginger to the water and allow it to simmer on the heat for five minutes. 
  • Alternatively, you can add a teaspoon of ginger powder to the hot water.
  • Once the ginger has infused its flavors, remove the saucepan from heat and add a desired amount of honey to sweeten the tea naturally. This addition enhances the taste, provides extra immune-system-boosting properties, making it a nourishing and comforting beverage, and works as an effective cough syrup11

#5 Chamomile Tea

Chamomile is well-known for its ability to induce a state of calmness and tranquility. This tea can help alleviate the symptoms of a dry and tickly cough, providing relief and aiding in a better night's sleep.

Research suggests that the inhalation of steam infused12 with chamomile extract has shown the potential to relieve common cold symptoms. However, additional studies are required to support these findings.

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

Preparing chamomile tea is a simple process:

  • Start by boiling one cup of water. 
  • Then, add two teaspoons of fresh chamomile flowers or one teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers to the boiling water.
  • Allow the flowers to steep for five to 10 minutes, adjusting the steeping time according to the preference for a more pungent taste. 
  • Consider adding a dash of lemon juice or honey to enhance the flavor.

#6 Thyme Tea

Thyme is a herb used for centuries to treat respiratory ailments. It contains compounds that help loosen up the muscles of the respiratory tract and suppress coughing. Brewing a cup of thyme tea can relieve cough symptoms and promote healing.

For instance, in one study, the combination of thyme and ivy13 demonstrated significant benefits in reducing coughing fits compared to a placebo. The thyme-ivy combination reduced coughing by 21.1% more than the placebo, and the thyme-ivy combination group experienced faster symptom reduction and higher response rates than the placebo group.

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

Here's a simple method to prepare a soothing herbal remedy for cough and cold symptoms:

  • Heat a cup of water in a saucepan until it reaches a boiling point.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and add two to three thyme sprigs to the hot water.
  • Allow the thyme to steep for around eight minutes, extracting its beneficial properties.
  • For flavor balance, add a pinch of cinnamon to the infusion.
  • Finally, strain the mixture into a cup using a fine mesh strainer, removing any thyme leaves or particles.

#7 Lemon Tea

Lemon tea is a delightful and stimulating beverage that can be enjoyed hot or cold, depending on your preference. This lovely concoction, prepared with hot water and either lemon juice or slices of lemon, provides a generous dose of Vitamin C. By incorporating this tea into your routine, you can give your immune system the vital support it needs to combat colds and the flu 14 effectively.

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

Using fresh lemon slices:

  • Heat water in a kettle or saucepan until it boils.
  • While the water is boiling, cut a fresh lemon into slices.
  • Put the slices in a cup and pour the boiled water over them.
  • Allow the lemon tea to steep for a few minutes to infuse the flavors. Cover the cup with a saucer or small plate to retain the heat.

Using lemon juice:

  • You can use a citrus juicer or, squeeze a lemon by hand into a cup, or use bottled lemon juice. Fresh lemon juice usually has a stronger flavor.
  • Pour some lemon juice into a cup. Adjust the amount according to your taste preferences.
  • Boil some water and carefully pour it into the cup containing the lemon juice. 

Lemon with other combinations:

  • Customize your tea by adding honey or a sweetener to enhance the flavor. Stir well until the sweetener is dissolved.
  • Experiment with different variations by adding herbs like mint or ginger for added complexity.

#8 Echinacea Tea

Echinacea, a vibrant purple flower and popular traditional herbal remedy for respiratory infections, has garnered some scientific recognition for its potential benefits in reducing coughing15 and slightly reducing the changes of developing a cold16.

Research indicates that echinacea is beneficial for both dry and wet coughs, as it helps alleviate inflammation and promotes the opening of airways17.

A comprehensive analysis of 13 studies discovered that echinacea effectively reduced the length and intensity of cough symptoms18. It also exhibited a slight decrease in the likelihood of recurrent cough and common cold; however, other studies have reported conflicting findings. 

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

To brew echinacea tea, use pre-made tea bags or dried echinacea roots, blossoms, or leaves. Here is an easy recipe:

  • Boil some water.
  • Place one to two teaspoons of dried echinacea leaves, flowers, or roots into a teapot or tea infuser in a cup.
  • Pour the boiling water into the teapot/cup.
  • Let it steep for five to 10 minutes.
  • Separate the liquid from the solids in the tea by removing the infuser or straining it through a filter as you pour from the teapot.

If you want to improve the flavor, you can add honey or lemon. Serve it warm.

#9 Elderberry Tea

Elderberry's most common form, black elder, is rich in antiviral 19 and antimicrobial properties, as it contains valuable polyphenols within its dark berries. These beneficial compounds found in elderberries provide promising effects in supporting the body's defense against respiratory infections. 

Elderberry syrups and extracts have exhibited the ability to reduce the duration of illness associated with the flu2021. However, there needs to be more specific research regarding the use of elderberry tea for treating common colds.

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

You can use both fresh and dried elderberries.

  • Measure one tablespoon of dried elderberries or two tablespoons of fresh elderberries into a tea infuser or a small mesh bag.
  • Boil some water in a saucepan.
  • Carefully add the elderberries to the saucepan once the water reaches a rolling boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let the elderberries simmer for 15–20 minutes. This allows the flavors and beneficial compounds to infuse into the water.
  • After simmering, remove the saucepan from the heat and let the tea cool slightly.
  • Remove the tea infuser or mesh bag containing the elderberries from the saucepan, and discard the berries.
  • Pour the liquid carefully into a mug and enjoy.

#10 Honey Tea

Honey tea is made by combining warm water and raw honey. Because of its medicinal characteristics, honey is frequently included in many cold and flu medicines.

This all-natural remedy relieves throat irritation from frequent coughing by acting as a cough suppressor22 and soothing sore throats23. Another study involving 105 children demonstrated honey was comparably efficient to cough medicine24 in alleviating cough symptoms.

By incorporating honey into your cough relief routine, you may experience excellent benefits that contribute to improved respiratory health and better sleep quality.

Tips for Preparation and Consumption

  • Using a kettle or saucepan, heat water until just below boiling.
  • Put some honey into a mug and pour the hot water on top, stirring so that it dissolves.
  • Use about one teaspoon for every eight ounces of water.
  • Heat water using a tea kettle or a stove-top pan to prepare your soothing tea. 
  • Heat the water to the desired temperature, and add one teaspoon of honey for every eight ounces.

Additionally, you can incorporate honey into any of the cough-suppressant teas mentioned above. Adding honey to these teas can enhance their effectiveness in alleviating cough symptoms while enjoying a natural sweetness.

Conclusion

Despite the lack of specific scientific data supporting any specific type of tea for treating a cold, drinking various herbal teas when sick is typically advantageous. 

However, even though herbal teas are generally considered safe, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking medications to ensure the tea won’t negatively interact with your medications or conditions.

Overall, maintaining hydration by consuming suitable drinks can aid recovery. Simply inhaling the steam emanating from a warm drink in your hands relieves congestion and promotes relaxation.

  1. Musial, C., Kuban-Jankowska, A., & Gorska-Ponikowska, M. (2020). Beneficial Properties of Green Tea Catechins. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(5), p. 1744). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051744[]
  2. Eri G B, et al.(2022) Effect of Warm Saline Solution Gargle on Sore Throat after Extubation in Open Heart Surgery Patients: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of Research Development in Nursing and Midwifery, 19(1) http://nmj.goums.ac.ir/article-1-1284-en.html[]
  3. Aryaeefar, M. R., Jafari, H., Yazdani-Charati, J., & Soleimani, A. (2015). Green Tea Gargling Effect on Cough & Hoarseness After Coronary Artery Bypass Graft. Global journal of health science, 7(5), 266–271. https://doi.org/10.5539/gjhs.v7n5p266[]
  4. Yang, R., Yuan, B. C., Ma, Y. S., Zhou, S., & Liu, Y. (2017). The anti-inflammatory activity of licorice, a widely used Chinese herb. Pharmaceutical Biology, 55(1), 5–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/13880209.2016.1225775[]
  5. Wang, L., Yang, R., Yuan, B., Liu, Y., & Liu, C. (2015). The antiviral and antimicrobial activities of licorice, a widely-used Chinese herb. Acta pharmaceutica Sinica. B, 5(4), 310–315. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apsb.2015.05.005[]
  6. Grigoleit, H.-G., & Grigoleit, P. (2005). Pharmacology and preclinical pharmacokinetics of peppermint oil. Phytomedicine, 12(8), pp. 612–616. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2004.10.007[]
  7. Mahendran, G., Verma, S. K., & Rahman, L.-U. (2021). The traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of spearmint (Mentha spicata L.): A review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 278, p. 114266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2021.114266[]
  8. McKay, D. L., & Blumberg, J. B. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy research : PTR, 20(8), 619–633. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.1936[]
  9. Mashhadi, N. S., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., Hariri, M., Darvishi, L., & Mofid, M. R. (2013). Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. International journal of preventive medicine, 4(Suppl 1), S36–S42. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/[]
  10. Townsend, E. A., Siviski, M. E., Zhang, Y., Xu, C., Hoonjan, B., & Emala, C. W. (2013). Effects of ginger and its constituents on airway smooth muscle relaxation and calcium regulation. American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology, 48(2), 157–163. https://doi.org/10.1165/rcmb.2012-0231OC[]
  11. Cohen, H. A., Rozen, J., Kristal, H., Laks, Y., Berkovitch, M., Uziel, Y., Kozer, E., Pomeranz, A., & Efrat, H. (2012). Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pediatrics, 130(3), 465–471. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-3075[]
  12. Srivastava, J. K., Shankar, E., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Molecular medicine reports, 3(6), 895–901. https://doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2010.377[]
  13. Kemmerich, B., Eberhardt, R., & Stammer, H. (2006). Efficacy and tolerability of a fluid extract combination of thyme herb and ivy leaves and matched placebo in adults suffering from acute bronchitis with productive cough. A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Arzneimittel-Forschung, 56(9), 652–660. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1296767[]
  14. Raal, A., Volmer, D., Sõukand, R., Hratkevitš, S., & Kalle, R. (2013). Complementary treatment of the common cold and flu with medicinal plants--results from two samples of pharmacy customers in Estonia. PloS one, 8(3), e58642. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0058642[]
  15. Wagner, L., Cramer, H., Klose, P., Lauche, R., Gass, F., Dobos, G., & Langhorst, J. (2015). Herbal Medicine for Cough: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Complementary Medicine Research, 22(6), 359–368). S. Karger AG. https://doi.org/10.1159/000442111[]
  16. Schoop, R., Klein, P., Suter, A., & Johnston, S. L. (2006). Echinacea in the prevention of induced rhinovirus colds: A meta-analysis. Clinical Therapeutics, 28(2), 174–183. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinthera.2006.02.001[]
  17. Capek, P., Šutovská, M., Kocmálová, M., Fraňová, S., Pawlaczyk, I., & Gancarz, R. (2015). Chemical and pharmacological profiles of Echinacea complex. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 79, 388–391). Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2015.05.010[]
  18. Barrett, B., Vohmann, M., & Calabrese, C. (1999). Echinacea for upper respiratory infection. The Journal of family practice, 48(8), 628–635.[]
  19. Porter, R. S., & Bode, R. F. (2017). A Review of the Antiviral Properties of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Products. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 31(4), 533–554. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5782[]
  20. Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., & Wadstein, J. (2004). Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2), 132–140). SAGE Publications. https://doi.org/10.1177/147323000403200205[]
  21. Mahboubi, M. (2020). Sambucus nigra (black elder) as alternative treatment for cold and flu. Advances in Traditional Medicine, 21(3), 405–414. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13596-020-00469-z[]
  22. Cohen, H. A., Rozen, J., Kristal, H., Laks, Y., Berkovitch, M., Uziel, Y., Kozer, E., Pomeranz, A., & Efrat, H. (2012). Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pediatrics, 130(3), 465–471. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-3075[]
  23. Department of Child and Adolescent Health (2001), Cough and Cold Remedies for the Treatment of Acute Respiratory Infections in Young Children. World Health Organization.[]
  24. Paul, I. M., Beiler, J., McMonagle, A., Shaffer, M. L., Duda, L., & Berlin, C. M., Jr (2007). Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 161(12), 1140–1146. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.161.12.1140[]

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