Adding honey is totally encouraged.
Delicious as those cherry-flavored lozenges may be (are you sure those aren’t just candy?), having a sore, scratchy throat just straight-up sucks. And when that sore throat eventually leaves you with a frog voice? The icing on the cake.
Sore throats typically pop up when bacterial or viral infections affect the tissues in our throat, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain, says Dr. Robert Glatter, MD, attending emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. (Fun fact: This is technically called pharyngitis.)
When your voice starts to go—a situation technically called laryngitis—inflammation, and swelling affect your vocal cords and their ability to vibrate, Glatter says. The result: You sound funny, or can’t talk at all.
Not only does tea make you feel cozy and at-ease when your throat is throbbing, but it also offers a slew of health benefits that can help you feel better. You can also add honey to your mug, which helps coat the mucous membranes in your throat, soothing your soreness and even minimizing coughing, says Glatter.
Next time you’re feeling under the weather, grab your bag of cough drops, put on Mean Girls, and sip on a few mugs-full of these super-soothing teas.
1. Green Tea
Classic green tea is a great option when your throat needs some love. “Research indicates that green tea has anti-inflammatory effects, which may help to reduce swelling of tissues in the throat,” says Glatter. Sip on it nice and hot when you’re feeling scratchy. For extra flavor, add lemon and honey.
2. Black Tea
Black tea doesn’t just wake you up in the a.m.; it can also relax a sore throat. “Black tea contains compounds called tannins, which may help to reduce inflammation and ease the pain of a sore throat,” says Glatter. Gargling with black tea several times a day (yes, really!) may also help to reduce swelling and inflammation, too, he adds.
3. Peppermint Tea
“Mint tea may also help to soothe the pain of a sore throat,” Glatter explains. Why? It contains a compound called menthol that has anti-inflammatory properties.
One thing to keep in mind: “Menthol can also lead to drying of tissue, so it should be used sparingly, especially if you have laryngitis,” he says.
Feel free to incorporate mint tea into your rotation; just don’t chug it all day long.
4. Licorice Root Tea
“While licorice root tea is best known for helping to alleviate upset stomach and similar issues, such as heartburn, its antibacterial and antiviral activity can also be useful for sore throats,” Glatter explains. If you dig licorice (it’s polarizing, I know), definitely sip on this slightly-sweet tea when you’re feeling under the weather.
5. Chamomile Tea
Made from flowers, this bedtime classic is especially helpful when a scratchy throat or nasty cough keeps you from winding down at night. Plus, chamomile tea contains antioxidants, specifically antioxidants called flavonoids and terpenoids, that help the body fight infection, says Glatter.
6. Marshmallow Tea
Sadly, this mild tea doesn’t taste like s’mores but comes from the good-for-you marshmallow plant. “Marshmallow root secretes a gelatinous substance known as mucilage that helps to coat and soothe a sore throat,” explains Glatter. “Research indicates that it also has anti-inflammatory properties.”
7. Ginger Tea
Love ginger candies and stir-fry? You’re in luck. Spicy ginger tea does wonders for your well-being since ginger root contains a number of compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects, says Glatter. To balance the spiciness (and show your sore throat some extra love), add honey and cinnamon to your mug. “Cinnamon helps boost your body’s ability to fight infection,” Glatter adds.
8. Lemon Tea
Bright and citrusy, lemon tea boasts some serious immune benefits—with a side of zing. “Great for helping with sore throats and colds, lemon tea is packed with vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system,” says Yeral Patel, MD, a board-certified functional medicine physician. The stronger your immune system, the better you can fight off that sore throat (or whatever ails you).
9. Turmeric Tea
“Turmeric tea is ideal for sore throats because turmeric has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and most importantly, anti-inflammatory properties, which help soothe the throat and boost the immune system,” says Patel. If you don’t love the unusual flavor, add honey, ginger, or a little stevia to your mug.
10. Tulsi Tea
Tulsi (also known as holy basil) tea has long been used as an herbal remedy for upper-respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, colds and bronchitis, and coughs. “Packed with anti-oxidants and anti-microbial properties, Tulsi can help soothe sore throats, fight off bacterial and viral infections, and boost the immune system,” says Patel. Lots of health perks here!
11. Rose Hips Tea
Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants called polyphenols, rose hip tea is great for sore throats and during the cold season. “Rose hips tea also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe the throat and ease pain,” Patel says. Often blended with fruity-flavored hibiscus, this brew is light and sweet.