The 7 Best Teas to Help Ease a Cough

A cough is a reflex that your body uses to help clear your airways. Although coughing is common when you’re sick, a cough can also be caused by other things, like allergies, asthma, and acid reflux.

Having a cough, especially when you’re feeling under the weather, can be downright annoying. Plus, it can deplete you of any energy you have, leaving you feeling even weaker.

But, there are steps you can take to soothe your airways and calm your cough. One of the best and simplest home remedies for easing a cough is to drink certain types of hot teas. So, which types of teas should you try?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the seven varieties of tea that, according to research, may work best for soothing your cough.

Benefits Of Tea For A Cough

Drinking tea when you have a cough may provide several benefits that can help you feel better. This includes the ability to:

  • Soothe a sore throat. The warmth of a cup of tea can help to soothe a throat that feels raw or sore from coughing.
  • Loosen up mucus. Warm fluids like tea can help to loosen or break up mucus. This can make it easier to cough up mucus.
  • Provide other health benefits. The natural components in tea may have their own specific health benefits. These can include things like anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial properties.

Based on scientific evidence, the following seven teas may be especially helpful for easing your cough and the symptoms that go along with it.

1. Honey tea

You may have heard of using honey as a natural way to alleviate the symptoms of a cold. Along with helping to soothe a sore throat, honey can be equally effective at relieving the symptoms of a cough.

Studies in children have found honey to be very effective at relieving nighttime coughs and improving sleep. In fact, a 2007 study even found that honey was more effective than dextromethorphan, a cough medication, in relieving cough symptoms.

Remember not to give honey to children under 1 year of age. This is because of the risk of infant botulism, a severe form of food poisoning.

How To Make

You can make honey lemon tea by adding 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of boiled water. If possible, try to use raw, organic honey.

Many different types of honey can be purchased at grocery stores, health stores, or even online.

2. Licorice root tea

Licorice root has been long been used in traditional medicine for a variety of conditions, including coughs, infections, and digestive problems.

Studies have indicated that licorice may be effective at stopping the growth of several species of bacteria, fungi, and even some viruses. It also appears to have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Additionally, a study in mice found that components in licorice could decrease cough frequency by between 30 and 78 percent . The study also found that the licorice compounds can act as expectorants, which may help loosen up mucus.

Pregnant women should avoid using licorice root. Also, keep in mind that consuming large quantities of licorice root can potentially cause high blood pressure or drops in potassium levels.

How To Make

If you’d like to make licorice root tea yourself, you can do the following:

  • From dried licorice root: Add 1 tablespoon of chopped licorice root to 1 cup of water. Bring water to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, allowing to cool for several minutes afterward. Strain before serving.
  • From premade tea: You can buy licorice root tea at your grocery store or local health store. You can also find it online. Be sure to follow the product directions to make the tea.

3. Ginger tea

Not only is ginger a popular ingredient in many foods and drinks, but it has a wide variety of health benefits as well. It’s often used as a remedy for several different health conditions, including asthma, nausea, and arthritis.

A wealth of evidence has shown that ginger has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This may help to soothe an irritated throat and airways caused by coughing.

Another reason that ginger may be helpful for a cough is because it has components that can cause relaxation of airway muscles.

On top of that, according to a 2016 animal study , ginger extract was found to significantly inhibit cough in guinea pigs.

Consuming too much ginger may have side effects such as abdominal discomfort, heartburn, and diarrhea. It may also interact with blood-thinning medications.

How To Make

You can make ginger tea using fresh ginger or premade tea:

  • From fresh ginger: Peel and thinly slice 3 one-inch pieces of ginger, adding to 4 cups of boiling water. Boil for about 15 minutes, and strain before drinking.
  • From premade tea: There are many different ginger teas that can be purchased at grocery stores, health stores, or online. Follow the directions on the product to make the tea.

4. Marshmallow root tea

Marshmallow root has been used in herbal medicine for centuries to ease coughs, colds, and skin problems. Although it shares a similar name, it’s no longer used in the marshmallows that we eat as snacks.

Marshmallow root appears to act as an enzyme to help loosen mucus and inhibit bacteria. According to a 2009 study in guinea pigs, marshmallow root has the ability to suppress coughs.

Additionally, a 2005 study showed a reduction in cough symptoms in people using a cough syrup containing a blend of marshmallow, ivy, thyme, and aniseed.

Marshmallow root may affect the absorption of medications that you take orally. It’s best to use marshmallow root several hours before or after taking oral medications.

How To Make

If you’d like to make tea from marshmallow root, you can do so in the following ways:

  • From loose marshmallow root: Stir 1 tablespoon of marshmallow root into 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover and allow to steep for 6 to 8 hours. Strain before drinking. Unlike other teas, it’s best to drink marshmallow root tea at room temperature to get the most benefits for a cough.
  • From premade tea: Several types of premade marshmallow root tea may be found in grocery stores, health food stores, or online. Be sure to follow the directions listed on the product.

5. Green tea

Green tea has long been consumed as a beverage. However, it’s also used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes, ranging from weight loss and headaches to improving alertness.

One study investigated gargling with green tea following a surgical procedure that required intubation. It was found that although green tea didn’t help with hoarseness, it did reduce coughing.

Green tea also may also be effective at inhibiting microbes. While studies are ongoing, antimicrobial activity, like that of green tea, may help stop the growth of some types of bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

Green tea is generally safe when consumed in moderate amounts. It does contain caffeine, which may make you feel jittery, or affect your sleep if it’s consumed close to bedtime.

How To Make

There are several ways to make green tea:

  • From leaves: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 1 minute. Steep 1 teaspoon of green tea leaves for about 3 to 5 minutes. Strain before drinking.
  • From powder: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 1 minute. Soak 1 1/2 teaspoons of green tea powder in the water for about 3 minutes. Strain before drinking.
  • From premade tea: A wide variety of premade green teas are available in stores or online. Follow the directions on the product to make the tea.

6. Thyme tea

Thyme is an herb that’s often used as a spice during cooking. It also has antimicrobial activity and may be beneficial for treating coughs.

A 2006 study investigated an extract of thyme and ivy in people with bronchitis. The extract was found to reduce coughing fits when compared to a placebo.

If you have an allergy to thyme or a related spice, avoid thyme tea.

How To Make

In order to make thyme tea, follow the suggestions below:

  • From fresh thyme: Pour 1 1/2 cups of boiling water over 3 fresh thyme sprigs, allowing to steep for about 5 minutes. Strain before drinking.
  • From premade tea: Buy thyme tea at a grocery store, health store, or online, and follow the product instructions to brew the tea.

7. Peppermint tea

Peppermint is a member of the mint family. It’s been used throughout history for a variety of purposes, including treating the common cold, digestive problems, and headaches.

Some studies have indicated that peppermint has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and pain-relieving properties. If you have a cold, the properties in peppermint tea may also help ease your clogged sinuses and make it easier for you to breathe.

How To Make

If you’d like to make peppermint tea, follow the steps below:

  • From fresh leaves: Add 15 peppermint leaves to 2 cups of boiled water, allowing to steep for about 5 minutes. Strain before drinking.
  • From premade tea: Purchase peppermint tea at your local grocery, health store, or online. Follow the product instructions to make the tea.

Other Home Remedies For A Cough

In addition to drinking tea, there are several other ways you can help ease a cough at home. For instance, you can:

  • Drink other warm fluids. This can include broths and soups.
  • Use a humidifier or take a hot shower. Breathing in more moisture may help soothe irritated airways and loosen mucus.
  • Try a saltwater gargle. Gargling with salt water may help ease a throat that’s sore or irritated from coughing.
  • Suck on cough drops or hard candy. Avoid giving these to young children, as they’re a choking hazard.
  • Consider over-the-counter cough medications for acute coughs. However, you shouldn’t use these medications in children under 6 years old, as they can cause dangerous side effects.

When To See A Doctor

See your doctor if you have a cough that:

Always seek emergency medical attention for a cough that:

The Bottom Line

Although research is ongoing, several specific types of tea may help ease your cough and the symptoms that go along with it. Some popular choices include tea with honey, licorice root tea, and ginger tea.

Many coughs go away on their own. However, it’s important to see your doctor if your cough lasts longer than 3 weeks, you cough up green mucus, or have other symptoms, like fever and shortness of breath.


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Important Notice: This article was originally published at by Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D. where all credits are due. Medically reviewed by Adithya Cattamanchi, M.D.


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