You wake-up. You have a sore throat and it hurts to swallow. You want the pain to go away FAST. Solution? Stock up on good quality, effective sore throat tea and drink it at the first sign of a sore throat.
A sore throat is an irritation or infection of the throat with symptoms like pain, swelling, difficulty swallowing etc. Fever and swollen glands can also accompany it.
Causes of a sore throat typically include respiratory allergies, post nasal drip and bacterial or viral pathogens. Only a minority of sore throats are bacterial and most are viral, meaning that you do not need antibiotics to treat them.
In this guide, I am going to talk about why antibiotics should be the last line of treatment for a sore throat, ways to treat a sore throat with soothing herbal teas, and also the best brands of teas that can give you quick relief.
Misuse of Antibiotics in Treating Sore Throats
A sore throat, as stated before, could be viral or bacterial. Viral sore throat may accompany flu, common cold or mononucleosis infections. Strep, mycoplasma or hemophilus cause bacterial sore throat.
Doctors often prescribe antibiotics to treat both kinds of sore throats. Many general practitioners feel pressurised to prescribe some medicines since patients urge them to do so as they either come back or go to another doctor.
As per a report published by the GRIP Global Respiratory Infection Partnership, many patients in Australia and UK have limited understanding of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a very important, yet an oft-overlooked problem, particularly in upper respiratory infections like a sore throat. In reality, the human immune system is equipped to fight sore throats on its own.
Doctors should focus on prescribing symptomatic relief to the patient instead of writing a prescription blindly for an antibiotic.
Many antibiotics also have adverse side effects like:
- Lethargy and weakness
- Allergic reactions that are often serious and life-threatening.
Many patients end up in emergency rooms due to these effects. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics cause the bacteria to change. They become resistant to the drug making it harder to treat.
Antibiotics Do Not Treat Sore Throats Caused by Viral Infections
Following are some instances where antibiotics do not work for sore throats:
- The common cold and flu are both viral
- Chest colds like bronchitis can also cause sore throat and cough with phlegm. It is also usually viral
- Sinusitis is also caused by a virus. It leads to post nasal drip that causes a sore throat
Only a few sore throats from infections like the strep are bacterial. Their symptoms include fever, redness, and difficulty swallowing. However, if you or a loved one has these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean strep throat. A test is available for strep diagnosis.
Your doctor will take a swab or culture of the throat and send it to the lab. S/he can then prescribe antibiotics accordingly. Most doctors do not take this test and prescribe antibiotics any way.
What Can You Do to Relieve Sore Throat Naturally?
There are many effective home remedies to soothe a sore throat.
Salt water gargle
Gargle with warm salt water at least 3-4 times a day. This helps reduce swelling and pain.
Use nasal drops/sprays
Nasal drops help reduce post nasal drip that causes a sore throat. Alternatively, use a neti pot filed with warm saline water to rinse out the nostrils.
Lozenges give relief from sore throat. Many herbal cough drops with throat-soothing herbs are also available these days. Use them for quick relief from a painful sore throat.
Drink hot beverages
Hot beverages like clear soups, broths, and herbal teas can all soothe the throat. Add some garlic, cayenne pepper and turmeric to your soups and broths. These act as natural antiseptics and antibiotics and help eliminate germs. Many of these ingredients are also rich in antioxidants to fight pain and inflammation. We will shortly discuss more about best tea for sore throat and ingredients to look for. Warm water with honey and lemon juice is also a great option.
For most viral infections and sore throat, rest is the best medicine. Avoid strenuous activity to help the body fight off the microbes naturally.
Take pain relief medicines like Panadol, Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen if the pain is unbearable.
Tea for Sore Throat Cold and Cough
When you are down with a sore throat, you naturally crave something hot, sweet and spicy. Most people also get relief from eating/drinking slippery textured foods and beverages as they go down easily without irritating the throat. A good tea for sore throat contains ingredients that relieve pain and swelling and coat the throat with pain-relieving and cooling mucopolysaccharides.
The salient features of a sore throat soothing tea and best tea for a cold are:
- Cools inflamed tissues of the throat
- Relieves swelling and pain quickly
- Soothes inflammation and uncomfortable sensations in the throat
- Relieves stress
- Alleviates infection
- Strengthens immunity
- Fights coughs
- Helps you increase your fluid intake to prevent dehydration
- Provides antioxidants to fight inflammation and free radical damage
- Reduces burning associated with cough and sore throat
If you are a DIY person like me, you can make the following sore throat tea at home. It is completely herbal and easy to make. You can easily procure the herbs from a health food store. It is the best tea for sore throat and cough.
Best Herbs and Ingredients in Sore Throat Tea
If you are looking to buy a good herbal tea for sore throat, there are certain ingredients and herbs to look for. Here is a list of herbs/spices along with the benefits they impart:
Chamomile is the best ingredient for relieving sore throat pain and helping you sleep better. To tame inflammation of the throat, place chamomile tea bag in a cup and pour hot water. Steep for 4-5 minutes and add honey. Drink it hot. You can also gargle with lukewarm chamomile tea to reduce pain and swelling.
You can take ginger for sore throat in any form such as tea, ginger candy, pickled ginger etc. It provides effective sore throat relief thanks to its anti-inflammatory compounds. The herb also has analgesic properties to reduce irritation. Ginger tea is the best sore throat tea as it delivers powerful antimicrobial action directly to the site of irritation and also soothes indigestion, nausea and upset stomach when suffering from flu. Ginger’s many vitamins and minerals provide an antioxidant action that prevents illnesses and strengthens the immune system.
Peppermint has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb with hundreds of health benefits. Primary among these is relieving gas, soothing sore throats and cooling inflamed tissues. Its menthol content is especially beneficial for irritated, red and painful tissues of a sore throat. Steep some peppermint leaves and drink the infusion hot with some honey. You can also use high quality peppermint essential oil for steam inhalation and apply it on the neck and throat externally to relieve pain.
Honey, especially Manuka honey, has powerful antibacterial, antiviral and anti inflammatory properties. No wonder it has been used since centuries for pharyngitis, laryngitis and other infections that cause sore throats. When purchasing Manuka honey for sore throat, look for unique manuka honey with factor rating between 10 and 18. These are the ratings for therapeutic purposes. To treat a sore throat, here is a great DIY honey tea for sore throat
- 1 cup boiling water
- A teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
- ¼ tsp organic turmeric powder
- 1 tsp organic raw honey/manuka honey
Add the ginger and steep for 5 minutes. Strain to remove ginger. Add the turmeric and honey and stir well. Drink it hot. You can also add cayenne pepper and some lemon juice to this recipe to enhance its healing benefits.
Alternatively, gargle with honey 3-4 times a day to soothe the sore throat and coughs.
During colds and flu, the high vitamin C content of lemons boosts the immune system to help the cells fight infections. Its antibacterial and antiviral properties also work on the pathogens and loosen mucus in the throat. For severe sore throat, add a dash of lemon juice to your favorite tea(s) for sore throat. Also gargle with warm water to which you have added lemon juice and salt water, thrice daily.
Honey and cinnamon for sore throat is a great solution. Cinnamon works by blocking the body’s natural production of inflammatory chemicals. Sprinkle some cinnamon powder liberally over some honey and lemon juice and eat this mixture. Let it coat your throat to give you instant pain relief from soreness. Also add cinnamon to hot water with some ginger, turmeric, peppercorns and other sore-throat relieving herbs for a pain relieving herbal drink.
Check out my simple honey and cinnamon for sore throat tea recipe at the end of this article.
Liquorice root has a number of medicinal properties that make it desirable in treating sore throat. Not only does it clear the mucus out; it also coats the throat for soothing pain relieving action. Steep 1-2 tsp of liquorice in hot water and drink the tea or gargle with it. You can also suck on the root.
Wild cherry bark
Wild cherry bark has long since been used as a medicinal plant. American Indians used it for treating sore throats, coughs, lung infections and chest congestion. Today, a number of cough remedies available in the market contain wild cherry bark extracts. To make a tea, pour boiling water over the bark and steep for 30 minutes. Sweeten with honey and drink it hot. Avoid excess intake of this herbal remedy as it could cause breathlessness.
Native Indians chewed on this root and let the saliva run down inflamed throats for instant pain relief. An infusion of the powdered roots and leaves of Echinacea herb boosts immunity and relieves pain from a sore throat. The juice of the root is very beneficial for tonsillitis, bronchitis, strep throat and tooth and gum disease sufferers as well. A study conducted in Sweden University in Uppsala has shown that Echinacea was two times more effective than placebo in relieving symptoms of sore throat, nasal congestion, colds, flu and cough.
Astragalus is particularly suited to relieving chronic sore throat and tonsillitis. It is an immune boosting herb. It augments the white blood cells in the body and has shown antimicrobial and antiallergic activity in labs.
Sage is astringent and antiseptic to the mucous membranes. Use sage tea to gargle thrice a day for sore throat and throat infections. In randomised trials conducted in 2006, sage throat spray was proven to be very effective in relieving painful sore throat in patients with acute infection.
Green Tea: Is it Good for Sore Throat?
Green tea has antimicrobial properties; it can inhibit gram positive and gram negative bacteria. The EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate ) and ECG(epicatechin gallate) antioxidants in green tea are mainly responsible for antibacterial property.
When you drink a cup of hot green tea, it is surely going to relieve the sore throat. Add some lemon, honey, and ginger to green tea and enjoy 2-3 cups when suffering from sore throat.
Research also supports this. In Japan, researchers at the Shizuoka University studied this theory on nursing home patients who were susceptible to colds, coughs and flu. The residents were each asked to gargle three times with green tea. At the end of the study period, those who had gargled with green tea had significantly lower rate of catching cold, flu and coughs. The catechins in tea worked on the viruses commonly present in throat and lowered risk of infection.
Another study at Pace University has shown that green tea has significant antibacterial activity in cases like Strep throat and tooth decay. The researchers concluded that green tea fought these microbes and reduced risk of both infections.
Likewise, a study in University of Florida conducted in 2006 showed how green tea challenged the flu. Healthy adults between 18 and 70 years green tea capsule or a placebo capsule twice a day for 3 months. An illness log was kept during this period to record health. At the end of the study, 32.1% had fewer symptoms, 22.9% had fewer overall illness symptoms and 35.6% had fewer symptomatic days as compared to the ones who took the placebo pills.
The study also concluded that apart from drinking green tea, one can also take green tea extracts as a dietary supplement to prevent cold and flu symptoms.
So will green tea help a sore throat? It's definitely the case but there are also other ingredients that are super helpful and I have listed sore throat teas with the best combinations below.
Best Tea for Sore Throat and Cold - Reviews
Here are my picks for the top sore throat tea brands.
1. Celestial Seasonings Wellness Tea, Sleepytime Throat Tamer
What it contains
- Slippery elm
- Liquorice root
I love the fact that this tea caffeine and gluten-free. The company (Celestial Seasonings) has been making teas since 1969. They are environmentally conscious and care for the planet. Their boxes are completely recycled and they support fair wages and sustainable harvest in more than 35 countries. See more details about this sore throat tea on Amazon.
- It has a refreshingly cool, minty taste
- You can use it in the form of ice tea as well
- It is not a laxative!
- Really helps on those sleepless nights
- Soothes throat infections stemming from colds, sinusitis, bronchitis etc
- Contains no artificial flavours, colours and preservatives
- Very inexpessive
- Order Celestial Seasonings Wellness Tea here. It's been rated 4.5 stars on Amazon by hundreds of happy users.
- Some people could not sleep despite using two tea bags
- Flavour was a bit too strong for some
Not sure which is the best tea for you? Get the Traditional Medicines variety pack. This is a great sampler variety tea bags brand. People who love trying out different flavours will love this convenience! Flavours/varieties included are: Gypsy Cold Care, Breathe Easy, Throat Coat and Echinacea Plus. This is my favourite tea for sore throat, cough as well as those annoying cold and flu symptoms and it's been rated five stars by hundreds of happy users.
What it contains
- Gypsy Cold Care - This flavour contains elderflower, peppermint, spearmint, yarrow and hyssop. Other spices include ginger, cinnamon, clove and liquorice.
- Breathe Easy - This sore throat tea contains eucalyptus and liquorice. Fennel, peppermint, calendula and pleurisy root are some other herbs in it.
- Echinacea - As the name suggests, this immune boosting herbal tea for sore throat contains echinacea. It also has elderberry, ginger, chamomile, yarrow and peppermint.
- Throat Coat - Echinacea and liquorice are the main herbs. Additionally, it has marshmallow root and leaf, lemon myrtle, bitter fennel fruit, sweet orange and cinnamon bark.
- Organic and caffeine free
- The herbs are all highest quality
- Teas have sweet, minty, silky or earthy tastes
- Really helps with a sore throat as experienced by most people
- People with high BP or heart disease should not use this sampler. Pregnant and nursing women should seek the advice from their doctor before drinking as some herbs could be abortive.
- Some people found the taste ‘nauseatingly sweet’.
I also love the Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat Lemon Echinacea when suffering from a severe sore throat or when I am coming down with the sniffles.
I buy Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat Lemon Echinacea tea and Traditional Medicinals Seasonal Tea Sampler Variety Pack so I always have a good selection of teas for a sore throat, cough as well as cold and flu symptoms at home.
This sore throat tea is Amazon's Choice tea. The best hot tea for a sore throat prevents symptoms from worsening.
Throat Coat also helps with sinus/bronchitis. Voice coaches recommend this sore throat tea to singers to keep their throat from getting dry and scratchy. On the downside, you might need to add a bit of honey if you do not like the sweet liquorice taste.
3. Yogi Tea, Honey Lemon Throat Comfort
Yogi is a well-known tea brand known for their teas since the last 30 years. They source their spices and herbs with strict standards of quality testing and also believe in “Awakening Goodness” in the world through socially responsible global partnerships.
What it contains
- Slippery elm
- Wild cherry bark
- Licorice root
- Echinacea root
- Sweet taste-perfect for autumns and winters
- Great tea for when you are suffering from colds, coughs and allergies; perfect home remedy for flu season. Helps relieve sinus and nasal congestion and soothes a sore throat quickly
- Boosts immunity
- Delicious addition to your health care regime
- Vegan, kosher, non-GMO, USDA certified organic, gluten-free, compostable tea bags and no artificial flavours or preservatives. Check it out here on Amazon.
- Some users felt that the tea bags are too small
- Many felt it was too sweet; several people disliked the taste
- If you don’t like stevia get the one below
A great sore throat tea from the same brand is the Yogi Tea, Throat Comfort.
It is decaffeinated, organic and gluten-free. Throat Comfort contains mullein, liquorice, slippery elm, and wild cherry bark among other herbs and spices.
And it does not contain stevia. This Yogi Tea is wonderful for relieving sore throat and takes care of rasping, itch, scratchy throat and pain.
Drink it at night time to relieve pain and redness.
If you like stevia and prefer a refreshing honey lemon variety order this Yogi tea.
4. Choice Organic Teas, Throat Cozy Wellness
Choice Organic believes in Fair Trade and uses 100% organic ingredients. It is completely gluten-free. Check it out here on Amazon.
What it contains
- Anise seed
- Liquorice root
- Marshmallow root
- Orange peel
- Cinnamon bark
- Roasted dandelion
- Mellow, sweet taste
- Caffeine free, yet it has a mild coffee like flavour which nursing mothers enjoy
- Combines traditional Egyptian and Chinese formula
- Marshmallow coats the throat to provide pain relief and liquorice cools and soothes inflammation
- Anise prevents coughs
- Certified organic
- Developed by herbalists
- Some people complained about the ‘burnt-coffee’ like taste which comes from roasted dandelion
5. Immune System Booster - FEEL BETTER Herbal Tea
This herbal tea for sore throat gets the job done! Whether you are suffering from a runny nose, congestion, severe throat pain or asthma; drink Hey Girl to get instant relief! . You can also drink it in healthier times to boost immunity and prevent illnesses and infections.
What it contains
- Decaffeinated green tea
- Panax Ginseng
- Ginger root
- Tastes like honey lemon drops
- Drinking this tea immediately relieves congestion and sore throat to help you breathe easier and feel better. to get instant relief. Check the immune booster tea on Amazon
- Not just for a sore throat- relieves all other cold and flu symptoms as well.
- Gives instant energy and vitality; vitamin C increases immunity
- Slightly expensive compared to other similar tea(s) for sore throat on the market
- Contains stevia so if you don’t like this ingredient this tea is not for you
Homemade Tea for Sore Throat: Easy DIY Soothing Tea
If you have the following ingredients at home, you can make a herbal tea infusion yourself. Here’s what you’ll need for making this herbal sore throat tea. Honey and cinnamon sore throat tea can benefit your health in so many ways.
- 4 parts rose hips
- 3 parts cinnamon
- 2 parts each liquorice, marshmallow root, wild cherry bark and fennel
- 1 inch of freshly grated ginger root
- Fresh lemon juice
To make the honey and cinnamon for sore throat tea:
- Mix all the ingredients
- Pour 1 to 1.5 cups of boiling water over the mixture
- Steep for 10 minutes
- Drink hot 3-4 times or as needed
And those are my favourite teas for a sore throat. Have you got a favourite that I have missed? Let me know in comments below!