Whether you’ve been experiencing a sore throat for a few hours or a few days, one of the best remedies is to drink a cup of tea. Many teas have beneficial properties that can help reduce inflammation and boost immunity, making them an effective treatment for a sore throat.
Beyond being a remedy for a sore throat, certain teas can help with other cold and flu symptoms as well. Plus, they can also help with sore throats that result from oral surgery and other types of procedures that irritate the throat.
When it comes to soothing a sore throat, some teas are better than others. In general, teas that are anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting will be your best bets. With that being said, the following 7 teas are among the very best for reducing the severity and length of a sore throat.
1 – Honey with lemon
Adding honey and lemon to hot water is a time-tested remedy for soothing a sore throat. Lemon can help break up mucus and fight off infection, while honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
While evidence of the effectiveness of honey and lemon for sore throat is mostly anecdotal, there are studies showing that it is in fact beneficial for sore throat. One such study found this mixture to be an effective treatment for sore throat after third molar surgery.1
A recommended ratio for honey and lemon tea is 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every ½ to full cup of hot water. You can also add cayenne pepper to this drink to give it a kick and improve its effectiveness.
2- Licorice root
If you’re looking for a sweet-tasting tea that can help with your sore throat, look no further than licorice root. Licorice root not only assists in protecting inflamed tissue, but also expelling mucus from the throat and lungs. Plus, it helps to hydrate the body as well, which is important when fighting off a cold or other illness.
Licorice polysaccharide is a key ingredient that gives the root many of its benefits. This substance was actually found to increase the population of T lymphocytes in the thymus and spleen of mice, along with suppressing tumor cancer.2
3 – Chamomile
One of the most ancient medicinal herbs, chamomile has been linked to a wide range of health benefits such as reducing inflammation, improving sleep, and healing wounds. In addition to these and other benefits, chamomile has also been shown to be helpful for treating common cold symptoms. 3
Although scientific studies are lacking, chamomile is believed by many to be an effective remedy for sore throat. One reason for this is due to its ability to coat the throat, which increases lubrication.4
Compared to other options, chamomile is a good choice if you’re looking for a tea that doesn’t contain caffeine. If you take it before bed, you can take advantage of its calming effect along with receiving the benefits it can offer for boosting immunity and soothing a sore throat.
4 – Green tea
Like the other teas on this list, the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea make it a useful remedy for sore throats. In fact, multiple studies have found that green tea reduced sore throat symptoms resulting from removal of a breathing tube.5
Additionally, green tea can be especially beneficial to the immune system. The tea contains L-theanine, which is known to increase immune response. It may also be able to impair the ability of a virus to cause infection.
While green tea does contain caffeine, it has only about one-third of the amount compared to coffee on average. Still, you may want to avoid drinking it in the evenings before bedtime.6
5 – Ginger
Ginger is a popular herb containing several nutrients that are beneficial to the immune system. Some of these nutrients include vitamin C, quercetin, tannin, and zinc. Due to its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties, ginger is often used as a treatment for colds and flus and their related symptoms.
A study conducted in 2019 found that ginger improved antioxidant capacity and immune function in hens while potentially reducing their inflammatory response.7 All this bodes well for those who turn to this herb to relieve a sore throat.
While ginger on its own is one of the best teas for sore throat, it is often added to honey and lemon for even greater relief.
6 – Turmeric
Curcumin, the key active ingredient in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling in the throat. It’s also antiviral and anti-allergic, making it a good option for sore throats and tonsillitis. Consuming up to 1 gram of turmeric per day has been shown to reduce oxidative stress inflammatory markers, which can greatly benefit the immune system.8
Like ginger, turmeric is often added to lemon and honey for additional benefits. One recommendation is to add one tablespoon of turmeric powder to 4 cups of water and let it boil for a few minutes. Then strain the turmeric if desired and mix it with the lemon juice and honey. You could even add some ginger and cayenne to this recipe to create the ultimate immune-boosting tea.
7 – Rose hips
The rich vitamin C content of rose hips alone make it a powerhouse for treating the sore throats that often accompany the common cold and flu. Vitamin C is important in immunity because it’s known to stimulate the production of lymphocytes as well as enhance their function, which can help you recover from an illness as well as prevent illnesses from occurring.9
Along with vitamin C, rose hips contain other antioxidants such as carotenoids, polyphenols, and vitamin E. Antioxidants boost immunity to viruses, bacteria, and parasites, making them an effective option for treating sore throats and other cold and flu symptoms. In addition, rose hips are known to reduce inflammation and pain, which can help reduce the severity of a sore throat.
While dried rose hips are a good option for making the tea, fresh is recommended because it contains greater amounts of antioxidants.10
What to avoid
To reduce discomfort and recover faster, it’s important to avoid certain substances in addition to drinking the best tea for sore throat. A few of the substances you should avoid when you have a sore throat include the following:
- Acidic foods
- Fried foods
In addition to avoiding these foods and substances, make sure that you are getting enough sleep and consuming foods known to boost immunity such as soups, yogurt, oatmeal, cooked vegetables, frozen fruits, and smoothies.
1. Titinchi, F., J. Morkel, & S. Ranchod. “Treatment of postoperative sore throat after endotracheal intubation in third molar surgery.” International Dentistry – African Edition (November, 2014).
2. Ayeka, P.A., Y. Bian, et al. “The immunomodulatory activities of licorice polysaccharides (Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.) in CT 26 tumor-bearing mice.” BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies 17 (2017): 536.
3. Saller, R., M. Beschorner, et al. “Dose dependency of symptomatic relief of complaints by chamomile steam inhalation in patients with common cold.” European Journal of Pharmacology 183, no. 3 (1990): 728-729.
4. Srivastava, J.K., E. Shankar, & S. Gupta. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future.” Molecular Medicine Reports 3, no. 6 (2010): 895-901.
5. Jafari, H., M.R. Ariaeifar, et al. “The Effect of Green Tea Gargle Solution on Sore Throat After Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine 6, no. 3 (2016).
6. “Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mayoclinic.org.
7. An, S., G. Liu, et al. “Ginger extract enhances antioxidant ability and immunity of layers.” Animal Nutrition 5, no. 4 (2019): 407-409.
8. Carlson, Daniyel. “Say Goodbye To Sore Throat With Antioxidants in Turmeric!” Business Upside. Businessupside.com.
9. van Gorkom, G., R. Klein Wolterink, et al. “Influence of Vitamin C on Lymphocytes: An Overview.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland) 7, no. 3 (2018): 41.
10. Ustun, S.C. “Effect of Drying Conditions on Antioxidant Properties of Rosehip Fruits (Rosa canina sp)” Asian Journal of Chemistry 21, no. 2 (2009): 1061-1068.