Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor and this article does not replace professional medical advice. Please see your doctor if you are experiencing the symptoms of a cold, flu, or sore throat, and especially if the conditions are worsening or last over a week. Consult your doctor before beginning any health regimen.
Self-care can be a challenge when you are suffering from a cold, flu, or sore throat. While drinking tea does not confer any formal curative benefits recognized by the Food and Drug Administration, a cup of tea during a cold can boost your immunity and provide a feel-good boost. Also, because it is important to stay hydrated when fighting a cold or flu, drinking caffeine-free teas can add an additional advantage to kick that cold to the curb. There are a number of cold-busting homemade tea recipes available online made with a variety of ingredients, but who has the energy for cooking complicated recipes when they are feeling under the weather? (Of course, you should seek professional medical attention if you have symptoms that last more than one week or are getting worse.) Here are the best types of tea to drink as a natural cold, flu, or sore throat remedy. You can find these teas online or look for them at your grocery store to keep on hand for the next time you feel a cold coming on. Most healthy people can drink several cups of tea a day with no adverse effects; however, if you have existing health problems or are taking certain medications, the compounds in various teas can affect your condition. Therefore, ask a doctor before picking up a cup of tea.
Green and White Teas
The tea that you can find at your local grocery store that is available in black, green, white, and oolong varieties all comes from the same plant, the tea plant camellia sinensis. While variations in cultivation of teas can also affect the type of tea, the difference between these four teas is how the tea leaves are prepared after they are harvested.
White teas are the least processed of all teas, and are harvested when the tea plant is still young and has not fully bloomed. Because they contain the least amount of caffeine, they are ideal for people who are sick and need to drink lots of fluids, because the tea provides a warming effect and also does not have the diuretic effect that drinking high amounts of caffeine, which is found in coffee or even some black teas, can have. White teas have little to no tea taste and can be found flavored with fruits or flower leafs such as rose or orange. Therefore, white teas can be a delicious option for sipping during a cold to stay hydrated.
Green teas are harvested at the same stage as oolong and black teas but are heated immediately after being collected so that they are not allowed to oxidize too much. Green teas do not undergo the same oxidizing and withering process as black and oolong teas so their caffeine content, though more than white teas, is less than oolong and black teas. Green teas, when consumed in conjunction with the cold-busting Vitamin C, may have an immune-boosting effect due to natural compounds contained in tea called catechins. While catechins have no proven cold-fighting uses, they are natural antioxidants found in high concentrations in green tea that protect you from damaging free radicals. Catechins may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Because green tea contains caffeine, you may want to avoid drinking too much green tea or discuss its use with your doctor before consuming it on a regular basis, but a cup of green tea could be the energy boost you need when you have a cold, and it may have an additional long-term immune boosting effect due to the natural catechins.
Ginger and Ginger-flavored Teas
Ginger has many established anti-inflammatory properties and medicinally, is similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Of course, this doesn’t mean that eating a gingerbread cookie is like taking an aspirin, but ginger can be a delicious way to flavor your water or tea while trying to stave off a cold or flu. You can buy ginger tea at the grocery store – usually as a flavoring added to another tea – or make your own ginger tea quickly and easily at home. Here’s a quick recipe to make your own ginger tea at home:
- 1.5 inches of chopped, peeled ginger root (you can also find pre-minced ginger root at your grocery store), preferably organic
- 2-3 cups of water
- Juice from a lemon (optional)
Directions: Bring the water to a boil, either by microwaving the water in a microwave-safe mug or boiling the water on your stovetop. Next, add the ginger to the water and allow it to steep in the boiling water for 5-10 minutes. You can either sift the ginger pieces out of the water with a sieve or drink the tea with the ginger pieces for an additional flavor boost. To make your tea more flavorful, you can also add lemon juice for a citrus flavor. Or, you can omit the lemon juice entirely and add a cinnamon stick or two for a different flavor. This tea is caffeine-free so you can drink it throughout the day to remain hydrated.
You can also find ready-made ginger tea and varieties of tea with ginger added at your local grocery store. When you are buying ginger tea, make sure to choose an herbal tea so that you do not have to worry about drinking too much caffeine and staying up all night. You can also opt for a delicious ginger green tea, of which there are many varieties, to get the additional immune fighting benefits of catechins.
Regardless of whether you opt for a cup of tea or not during your next cold or flu, there is no substitute for the basic get-well-soon cold/flu regimen of getting lots of sleep, making sure you have adequate vitamin C, and drinking lots of fluids. However, tea can be a delicious way to endure and hopefully ameliorate the often annoying symptoms of a cold, flu, or sore throat. Cheers!