We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
It’s no secret that hot tea can work wonders on a sore, scratchy throat. But are certain brews especially suited for the job?
In general, sipping any type of warm liquid — from plain warm water to chicken broth — can temporarily soothe that raw, painful feeling as well as loosen up mucus. But some types of tea might be particularly potent, thanks to compounds that fight both inflammation and germs.
Which ones are worth picking? Here are 10 types of tea to soothe a cough.
Honey’s a tried-and-true cough suppressant, and stirring it into hot water can offer extra relief. Findings show that it boasts antimicrobial properties that fight germs, while the sweet stuff’s sticky texture temporarily coats your throat.
Drink up: Making honey tea for a cough is super simple. Just stir 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey into a mug of hot water. Any type of honey will get the job done, but raw honey, which offers up extra antioxidant power, is even better if you’ve got it.
The spicy root has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, along with compounds that could help encourage your airway to relax. Combined, that could soothe throat irritation and help you ease up on the coughing.
Drink up: Ginger tea is easy to make. Boil 4 to 6 pieces of peeled, sliced ginger in 2 cups of water for 10 to 20 minutes, then drink up.
The cool, minty sensation can temporarily numb throat pain, and if you have a stuffy nose, it might make it easier to breathe. But that’s not all. Research shows that peppermint has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that could help ward off germs.
Drink up: Steep a peppermint tea bag in boiling water, like Twinings of London Pure Peppermint Herbal Tea. Avoid making tea with peppermint essential oil, which can be toxic in large doses, and harmful to your stomach lining even in small doses.
Gargling the grassy sipper has been shown to reduce coughing, thanks in part to its anti-inflammatory compounds. Its antimicrobial compounds might thwart the growth of some bacteria and viruses, too.
Drink up: Yogi Tea Green Tea Super Antioxidant blend combines green tea with licorice root, another potential cough killer.
Licorice root tea
Speaking of licorice root, yup, science says this stuff can help tamp down inflammation as well as kill off some bacteria, fungi, and viruses. One study even found that licorice reduced the incidence of cough in mice by up to 78 percent.
Drink up: Try Traditional Medicinals Organic Licorice Root Tea.
Marshmallow root tea
Dealing with mega mucus? This stuff just might help, thanks to enzymes that seem to loosen up the sticky stuff as well as fight off bacteria. Just don’t let the name fool you: It tastes more like dirt than candy.
Pro tip: It’s also soothing for those recovering from stomach ulcers.
Drink up: Try Celebration Herbals Marshmallow Leaf and Root Tea.
Thyme’s antimicrobial activity could help combat the germs and inflammation that are causing your cough, findings suggest. And when combined with ivy, thyme extract was shown to reduce coughing fits more than a placebo in people with bronchitis.
Drink up: Make a DIY thyme tea by pouring 1 1/2 cups boiling water over three fresh thyme sprigs. Steep for 5 minutes, strain, and drink. If you happen to have chicken broth on hand, consider using that in place of plain H2O. It can ease inflammation and help thin mucus, studies show.
Lemon juice’s acidity can help break up mucus, plus, it serves up vitamin C that can give your immune system an infection-fighting boost.
Since drinking it alone would be kind of intense (not to mention rough on your stomach), combine it with hot water to make a tea. To retain more vitamin C, which is degraded by heat, let your tea cool a bit before adding your lemon juice.
Drink up: Stir a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice into a cup of hot water. Too tart for your taste? A teaspoon of honey only makes this tea more comforting.
Red raspberry leaf tea
Long used as a cold remedy, red raspberry leaf contains compounds that can fight pain and inflammation — including in the mouth and throat. (FYI though: It can also have a laxative effect, so be prepared.)
Drink up: Try Traditional Medicinals Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea.
Like red raspberry leaf, it’s a good option for fighting both throat pain and inflammation, especially if you gargle with it. And since it promotes feelings of relaxation, it might help you get more of the rest you need to help your body heal.
Drink up: Try Numi Organic Chamomile Lemon Tea.
Tea isn’t your only tool for taming a sore throat. You can also try:
- Gargling with salt water. Mix half a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water and swish away. It won’t make the pain disappear completely, but it’ll ease the soreness, break up some of the mucus and help fight germs.
- Sucking on a lozenge or popsicle. Both can deliver relief by coating and cooling your throat.
- Running a humidifier. Dry air can worsen soreness — or even be the cause of it.
- Drinking hot sauce. Don’t glug it straight — just add a few drops to warm water. Hot peppers contain capsaicin, a compound with potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
- Resting. Giving your voice — and your body — a break will help you recuperate faster.
A cough or sore throat that’s short-lived and doesn’t come along with other symptoms probably isn’t cause for concern. But you should reach out to your doc if your throat is sore for more than a week, or you’re hoarse for more than 2 weeks. Or, if you have:
- trouble breathing or swallowing
- trouble opening your mouth
- achy joints
- a fever over 101.4°F (38.5°C) or a rash
- an earache
- blood in your saliva or mucus
- a lump in your neck or your neck or face seems swollen