The 7 Best Teas to Soothe a Sore Throat, According to a Dietitian

Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat tea has effective ingredients

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A sore throat is the result of swelling or inflammation in the throat tissue. This swelling can be caused by multiple factors, but some of the most common causes of sore throats are bacterial or viral infections. Depending on the severity, home remedies to soothe a sore throat such as drinking warm tea may be an appropriate treatment.

Verywell Health Approved Teas for a Sore Throat

Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat is our best overall because it combines licorice root, marshmallow root, and slippery elm to create a soothing blend of botanicals that also offer antimicrobial properties. If you’re looking for a tea with honey to help manage your sore throat symptoms, try Celestial Seasonings TeaWell Organic Honey Lemon.

According to George M. Brinson, MD, “Drinking warm liquids can increase blood flow to the tissues in the throat and loosen phlegm, therefore improving a patient's symptoms.” Besides the warm liquid and increased blood flow, the type of tea you choose can also have a beneficial effect. “Some teas, such as green tea, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may add to their efficacy,” Brinson says.

When it comes to picking the right tea to help soothe a sore throat, there are multiple varieties to choose from, and each offers a unique benefit. Some teas have antimicrobial properties whereas others may help to manage pain. To make the best recommendations possible, our registered dietitian interviewed ear, nose, and throat doctors and other dietitians. Our top picks for the best teas for a sore throat consider the quality, variety, and research to support their use. Please take note that some of these options may not be appropriate if you are pregnant or lactating. 

When to See a Healthcare Provider

While many sore throat symptoms can be treated at home, there are certain symptoms and warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored and require immediate medical attention. “You should seek medical care if the sore throat has rapid onset and is severe, or if there are associated symptoms such as difficulty swallowing or breathing, fever, swelling of the neck, or rash,” says Dr. Brinson. “Additionally, if a sore throat persists for longer than a week with no explanation, it would be important to seek medical attention.”

Best Overall: Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat Seasonal Tea

Organic Throat Coat

Traditional Medicinals

Pros
  • Certified Organic

  • Follows Fair Trade & Fair Wild practices

  • Contains a blend of herbs to treat a sore throat

  • Available at major retailers

Cons
  • Not appropriate for those pregnant or lactating

  • May interact with certain medications

Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat is our top pick for the best tea for a sore throat because it includes multiple ingredients that have a beneficial effect on inflamed, sore throat tissue. This tea is Certified Organic and contains a blend of multiple herbs including slippery elm, licorice root, and marshmallow root. It also contains a proprietary blend of other plants including wild cherry bark, fennel fruit, orange peel, and cinnamon bark. 

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, some studies have shown that licorice gargles or lozenges prior to surgery may help to prevent a sore throat. Additionally, both slippery elm and marshmallow root have properties that coat the back of the throat which may be soothing if your throat is sore. 

Traditional Medicinals prioritizes the quality of their products. The company conducts testing on their herbs to ensure purity and identity. They also follow Fair Trade and Fair Wild practices for sourcing herbs. 

A word of caution on licorice root: licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin which, in large quantities can cause potassium levels to fall and sodium levels to rise which can have serious consequences, especially if you have hypertension. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends no more than 2 ounces of black licorice should be consumed within the span of two weeks for those over 40 years old. Additionally, if you’re pregnant or nursing you should not use licorice root because it is thought to result in preterm birth. And if you’re taking any medication, it’s important you speak with your doctor prior to drinking this tea. 

$5.99 / 16 servings ($0.37/serving)

Servings per package: 16 | Ingredients: slippery elm, licorice root, marshmallow root, proprietary blend of other herbs | Caffeinated: No | Recommended preparation: 8 oz water with 1 tea bag; steep for 10-15 minutes

Best Slippery Elm: NOW Foods Slippery Elm Powder

best teas for sore throat

NOW Foods

Pros
  • Allergy-friendly

  • NOW tests products for purity and potency

  • Lower cost per serving

  • Can drink as tea or use to gargle

Cons
  • Not appropriate for those pregnant or lactating

  • May interfere with certain medications

Slippery Elm is a supplement made from tree bark of the Slippery Elm tree. When consumed, it creates a slippery substance due to the presence of mucilage. It’s the mucilage that may help to soothe a sore throat. NOW Foods Slippery Elm Powder is our number one pick for the best slippery elm tea  because it’s an easy-to-use powder manufactured by a reputable company. 

NOW Foods conducts in-house testing on their products in labs that are accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA). Additionally, the company follows Current Good Manufacturing Practices as set by the FDA. The powder is stirred into water and simmered before drinking versus a tea that includes a tea bag to steep in water before removing. You can drink it as a tea, adding honey (which also may help treat cold symptoms), or you can simply use it to gargle and spit it out—the mucilage will help coat your throat either way.

Caution should be taken when using slippery elm as it’s not safe for use when pregnant or lactating. Additionally, because of the presence of mucilage, certain medications may have limited absorption if taken in combination with slippery elm. For this reason, it’s best to speak with your doctor about taking slippery elm if you also take any medications.

$18.99 / 75 servings ($0.25/serving)

Servings per package: 75  | Ingredients: slippery elm powder  | Caffeinated: no | Recommended preparation: Mix 1 tsp of slippery elm powder with 1 cup water, simmer for several minutes. Let cool. Add honey and sip or gargle.

Best Tea with Honey: Celestial Seasonings TeaWell Organic Honey Lemon

best teas for sore throat

Amazon

Pros
  • Available at major retailers

  • Certified Organic

Cons
  • Not appropriate for those pregnant or lactating

  • Only one serving per day recommended

Celestial Seasonings TeaWell offers a variety of wellness-focused tea and herb blends. The Organic Honey Lemon tea is our top pick for the best tea with honey because it uses a unique combination of herbs to create a soothing hot beverage. This tea is blended with organic dandelion, organic European elderberry, organic Asian ginseng, and honey as well as additional herbs and plants like moringa and chamomile. 

A review of a number of research studies found that honey is effective in treating upper respiratory tract infections due to its antimicrobial properties. Additionally, elderberry extracts have shown to have antiviral and antimicrobial properties which may be beneficial for a sore throat. Drinking this tea may also aid in relaxation due to the presence of chamomile, a flower often used in teas.

Studies have shown that elderberry is considered to be safe when used in recommended doses, but caution should be taken when pregnant and/or lactating as research is limited on this population.

Celestial Seasonings cautions against using this tea if you’re taking any medications and recommends no more than one serving per day. Additionally, the company states that if you’re allergic to daisies (the NIH also mentions ragweed, chrysanthemums, and marigolds) then chamomile present in this tea may be more likely to cause an allergic reaction. Chamomile may specifically interact with the medications warfarin and cyclosporine, though the amount found in this tea may or may not be cause for concern. We recommend talking to a healthcare provider if you're on any medications to make sure this tea is safe for you.

$20.64 / 72 servings ($0.28/serving)

Servings per package: 12 | Ingredients: organic green rooibos, organic dandelion, organic european elderberry, organic asian ginseng, plus others like honey crystals and moringa | Caffeinated: no | Recommended preparation: boil filtered water and pour one cup over one tea bag to steep for 4 to 6 minutes

Best Peppermint: Yogi Purely Peppermint Tea

Yogi Purely Peppermint Tea

Amazon

Pros
  • Certified Organic

  • Available at major retailers

Cons
  • Limited information on long-term safety

  • Caution urged for those who are pregnant

Yogi Peppermint tea is our number one pick for the best peppermint tea because it contains only one ingredient, peppermint leaves, and is a Certified Organic product. Peppermint is a natural source of menthol, a compound with cooling properties. This herb has also shown to have antiviral properties, but research is limited in humans. 

Yogi teas are certified by Quality Assurance International (QAI) which independently verifies organic status. Yogi also tests their teas to confirm their identity and to check for microbial presence. The company places a priority on sourcing with their Responsible Sourcing Program outlining expectations for suppliers.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the safety of the long-term consumption of peppermint leaves is not known. Additionally, those who are pregnant should use caution when drinking peppermint.

$16.56 / 64 servings ($0.25/serving)

Servings per package: 16 | Ingredients: organic peppermint leaf | Caffeinated: no | Recommended preparation: Bring water to boiling and steep for 7 minutes.

Best with Turmeric: Harney & Sons Organic Ginger Turmeric Tea

best teas for sore throat

Harney & Sons

Pros
  • Certified Organic

  • Available in multiple forms - tea bag, sachet, loose leaves

Cons
  • Limited availability in major retailers

  • More expensive per serving

Harney & Sons Organic Ginger Turmeric is a Certified Organic tea that’s available in tea bags, sachets, or loose leaves. It’s caffeine-free and includes additional ingredients like apple pieces, lemongrass, hibiscus, and nutmeg to create a unique flavor. 

Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial for a sore throat, but research is limited. Other ingredients in this tea like ginger may also benefit a sore throat due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Laboratory tests have found that ginger has an anti-inflammatory effect on tissues of the throat. However, large doses of ginger could result in throat irritation. 

Both ginger and turmeric are considered safe when taken in recommended doses, but caution should be used if pregnant or nursing.

$12.64 / 20 servings ($0.63/serving)

Servings per package: 20 | Ingredients: Organic ginger root, organic apple pieces, organic hibiscus, organic lemongrass, organic turmeric, organic cardamom, organic nutmeg | Caffeinated: no  | Recommended preparation: Brew for 3 minutes at 175F

Best with Marshmallow Root: Numi Throat Soother Tea

best teas for sore throat

Amazon

Pros
  • Certified Organic

  • Fair Trade Certified

Cons
  • Not appropriate for those who are pregnant or lactating

  • More expensive per serving

Numi Throat Soother tea combines licorice root and marshmallow root in equal parts to create a tea blend that’s soothing for a sore throat. This Certified Organic tea also includes a combination of sage, cinnamon bark, and clove for aromatherapy while you sip. 

Marshmallow root has properties similar to slippery elm that may soothe a sore throat due to the presence of mucilage, a compound that coats the back of the throat. This tea also contains licorice root which has antimicrobial properties, a benefit if you’re fighting an infection. 

Numi emphasizes quality teas with a focus on ethically sourced ingredients. The company is Fair Trade Certified and Fair Labor Verified. Additionally, Numi’s teas are made from fuller leaf, hand-plucked teas which influences taste. 

According to MedlinePlus from the National Library of Medicine, mucilage can decrease medication absorption, so caution should be taken when drinking this tea if you take prescribed medication. Additionally, because this tea contains licorice root, it should be avoided by those who are pregnant and lactating.

$21.60 / 48 servings ($0.45/serving)

Servings per package: 16  | Ingredients: licorice root, marshmallow root, sage leaf, cinnamon bark, clove bud | Caffeinated: no  | Recommended preparation: Steep for 8-10 minutes.

Best During Pregnancy: Yogi Green Tea Pure Green Decaf

best teas for sore throat

Yogi

Pros
  • Research shows green tea is safe during pregnancy

  • Available at major retailers

  • Certified Organic

Cons
  • May interact with some medications

Many teas for a sore throat may pose risks during pregnancy, so we want to make sure you have a good option if you are pregnant. Yogi Green Tea Pure Green Decaf is our number one pick for the best tea for sore throat during pregnancy because it is a ConsumerLab.com top pick due to its high EGCG content and low lead concentration under 0.25 mcg per serving. For reference, this lead content is well below the maximum daily lead intake recommendations set by the FDA—2.2 mcg for children and 8.8 mcg per day for females of childbearing age. While there are currently no guidelines for the general adult population, research supports setting the maximum at 12.5 mcg per day.

EGCG is an antioxidant found in green tea that’s shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, green tea has been used to treat the symptoms of a sore throat after surgery making it a potentially beneficial tea for managing your symptoms at home.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, drinking green tea has shown to be safe during pregnancy assuming no more than 300mg of caffeine is consumed per day. Some professional organizations recommend drinking no more than 200mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy, so it’s best to speak with a healthcare provider if you choose to drink caffeine while pregnant. Because this tea is decaffeinated, it’s a good choice for those who are pregnant and want to avoid caffeine altogether.

Green tea has shown to interact with some medications, so be sure to talk to your doctor before adding it to your diet if you’re currently taking any prescribed medications.

$24.84 / 96 servings ($0.26 / serving)

Servings per package: 16  | Ingredients: decaffeinated green tea leaf | Caffeinated: no  | Recommended preparation: Bring water to boiling and steep for 3 minutes. For a stronger tea, use 2 tea bags.

How We Selected

When choosing the best teas for a sore throat, we first spoke with multiple experts to provide insight into what attributes of tea may aid in treating the symptoms of a sore throat. These experts included otolaryngologists and registered dietitians with expertise in immune health.

From there, we researched many teas and only included those with ingredients known to benefit a sore throat as well as those made from high-quality ingredients and by reputable companies. The teas listed are available in a range of price points and in a variety of online and brick and mortar retailers.

What to Look for in a Tea for a Sore Throat

Tea can be made from a variety of plants and herbs, all of which have varied effects on the treatment of a sore throat. However, the research in this area is limited making it difficult to determine which teas are best for combating a sore throat. “There are some scientific studies supporting the use of teas for symptomatic relief of sore throats. [But] it is difficult to do high-quality placebo-controlled trials that would definitively answer this question,” says Dr. Brinson. 

Still, many people find relief for a sore throat when drinking hot tea, and traditional medicine has turned to herbs for medicinal purposes for many years making it an attractive home remedy. The ingredients in the tea you choose can make a difference in how well it relieves sore throat symptoms. Consider the following attributes when choosing a tea for a sore throat.

Anti-viral, anti-microbial, or anti-inflammatory properties

Teas with either anti-viral, anti-microbial, or anti-inflammatory properties may be effective in a few ways. According to otolaryngologist and laryngologist Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, certain teas are “usually combating bacteria or a virus or are offering an analgesic [pain-relieving] property to the patient.” 

For example, licorice root, thyme, and oregano have shown to have antimicrobial properties. Alternatively, marshmallow root and slippery elm may act as an analgesic. “Marshmallow root has a substance that coats the back of the throat which can be soothing. Slippery elm tea has similar properties, it creates a coating on the back of the throat which can also be soothing,” says Dr. Mehdizadeh.

Quality

Most herbal teas are considered dietary supplements and therefore are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as food. Because of this, it’s vital to choose a high-quality tea from a manufacturer that’s committed to producing pure, unadulterated teas that are accurately labeled. 

Many companies conduct independent testing on their herbs to verify identity. It’s also important to choose tea from a company that follows Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) as defined by the FDA. In addition, many companies will provide a Certificate of Analysis which gives details on the tea including results of tests for heavy metals or other contaminants. 

“Transparency should be a part of the company’s identity, which means that if you have questions about the product, they should happily assist,” says Ayla Barmmer, MS, RD, LDN, Founder & CEO of FullWell. “Know your source and purchase from a trusted supplier or grower.”

Dose

While many herbs are considered safe for human consumption, there are some that have maximum dose limits due to safety concerns. “Most of these things [herbal teas] are benign, but they were used as pharmaceuticals before we had synthetic pharmaceuticals, so some of them do have properties in the body that can affect how our enzymes and systems work,” says Dr. Mehdizadeh. It’s important to follow the instructions on the package as well as speak with a healthcare provider to ensure optimal dosage and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s a good home recipe for tea for a sore throat?

    Drinking warm liquids can be beneficial for a sore throat. To make tea at home, try adding lemon and honey to a cup of warm water. The combination is both refreshing and soothing while also helping to treat a sore throat. “Honey not only provides a bit of sweetness, but it can also be beneficial in terms of healing a sore throat. Honey naturally has antibacterial properties which allow it to act as a wound healer, reducing inflammation and decreasing discomfort,” says Julie Balsamo, MS, RD.

  • How often should I drink tea for a sore throat?

    The frequency that you should drink tea for a sore throat depends on the ingredients in the tea. Some teas contain ingredients that shouldn’t be consumed more than once per day whereas others you can drink multiple cups per day without concern. Other compounds in the tea may also have an influence on the frequency that’s recommended. 


    “Teas naturally contain tannins that can inhibit the absorption of iron in your digestive tract, specifically plant-based non-heme iron sources,” says Balsamo. “If you do have a history of low iron, I would recommend drinking tea between meals rather than during. For some, tannins can also cause digestive irritation.” Additionally, some teas contain caffeine which can have side effects for some people. “When consumed in excess, [caffeine] can cause anxiety, headaches, disrupted sleep, and restlessness.”

  • Is hot tea better than cold tea for soothing a sore throat?

    Hot tea may have additional soothing properties due to increase in blood flow to the throat tissues as a result of drinking hot liquid. However, the ingredients of the tea also have an influence on treating sore throat symptoms. If you prefer to drink your tea cold, be sure to choose one that contains ingredients known to soothe a sore throat.

  • Are black or green teas good for a sore throat?

    If drinking a black or green tea hot then you may experience some symptom relief simply related to the temperature of the liquid. Other compounds in black and green tea may also benefit a sore throat. “Many herbal teas are rich in antioxidants which promote a healthy immune system and help to heal damaged tissue,” says Balsamo. 


    Both green and black tea are a source of EGCG, however green tea is a more concentrated source of this polyphenol that has antioxidant properties. One study found that gargling green tea after surgery improved patient symptoms indicating it may offer anti-inflammatory properties to soothe a sore throat (20). If you’re choosing between the two, it may be best to opt for green tea in the case of managing sore throat symptoms.

  • Is it ever harmful to drink tea to soothe a sore throat?

    Drinking tea if you’re experiencing severe symptoms could have potentially harmful outcomes, especially if it delays care. “If a sore throat lasts no more than 5 days and there aren’t concerning signs including inability to swallow, high fevers, neck swelling, blood in the salvia, or difficulty breathing then it can generally be managed at home,” says Dr. Mehdizadeh. 


    “But if it lasts more than 5 days or if at any point, any of those symptoms are included, then someone should seek care.” Additionally, drinking tea to soothe a sore throat could be harmful if the ingredients are contraindicated for any medication you’re currently taking and/or if you’re pregnant or nursing and the herbal tea is not safe for that population. Be sure to check labels carefully and speak with a healthcare provider before drinking tea to soothe a sore throat.

  • How much do teas to soothe a sore throat cost?

    The price of tea can vary widely depending on the quality and ingredients. Organic teas tend to cost more than non-organic teas. Those that are Fair Trade certified or follow other ethical sourcing practices are also often more expensive due to the cost of these certifications and the cost of paying more to the growers and workers. 


    Our best overall pick, Traditional Medicines Organic Throat Coat, costs $5.99 for 16 servings or $0.37/serving. The Verywell Health top picks for teas for a sore throat range in price from $0.25 to $0.63 per serving. The majority of the teas cost somewhere in the middle of that range.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Allison Knott MS, RDN, CSSD, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics with a master's degree in nutrition communication from Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She is the founder of Anew Well Nutrition, a virtual nutrition consulting practice with a focus on fitness and performance nutrition.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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