Elderberry Tea Benefits: Your Simple Guide

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    Elderberry tea is a popular herbal tea that boasts many health benefits. Read on to learn more.

    The chances are good you’ve seen or heard about elderberry. It’s an increasingly popular supplement, made from a type of berry that grows all over the world. Elderberries also come in a variety of different colors, including red, blue, and black. Black elderberries are the kind most commonly used in foods. Elderberries are packed full of antioxidants that can boost immune function and manage oxidative stress.

    Perhaps that’s why elderberry has been well regarded for its healing properties for literally thousands of years. Elderberry references can even be found in the writings of Hippocrates! Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Native Americans have all looked to elderberry for its health-supporting qualities.

    But you don’t want to eat raw, unripe elderberries, since they can lead to digestive side effects. Fortunately, there are many healthy, tasty ways to incorporate elderberry into your routine. Options abound – nowadays you’ll find elderberry mixed in with tasty jams, syrup, juice, and even wine. In this article, we’re going to talk about a much loved elderberry option: elderberry tea.

    What is elderberry tea?

    Elderberry tea is a popular, soothing way to get the benefits of elderberry. Let’s take a closer look at this increasingly popular tea – how it’s made, what it tastes like, and more.

    How is elderberry tea made?

    To make elderberry tea, you boil dried, ripe elderberries in boiling water. The result is a warm, smooth, and highly nutritious tea. You can also find elderberry tea in pre-made form, which only needs to be steeped in hot water.

    What does elderberry tea taste like?

    Elderberry tea is known to have a rather tart taste, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. (Get it?) Since not everyone likes elderberry tea’s tart taste, folks have come up with creative ways to adjust the flavor, including adding ginger, honey, or orange juice.

    What are the health benefits of elderberry tea?

    It’s important to note that there haven’t been many studies specifically on the effects of elderberry tea.

    That said, studies do show that elderberry tea can contain vitamins A and C, in addition to the flavonoids quercetin and rutin – all of which are highly beneficial for your health. Elderberry tea also contains antioxidants, which can be helpful for combating oxidative stress.

    There’s also sound research about the effects of more concentrated, standardized versions of elderberry, such as elderberry capsules. And the findings are promising! A study of air travelers, for example, found that elderberry supplementation could help travelers maintain optimal immune function. Another study, which focused on subjects who consumed foods rich in elderberry, found that elderberry’s antioxidant properties can indeed combat oxidative stress. Furthermore, this animal study found that elderberry extract can promote cardiovascular health.

    Analysis of elderberry fruit has shown that it’s a source of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and proteins. So, while more research is needed about tea specifically, you have good reason to believe that consuming elderberry will be good for your health.

    Can you drink elderberry tea every day?

    Yes! If you want to drink elderberry tea every day, go right ahead. Lots of people take elderberry supplements every day. Elderberry tea is rich in nutrients and supports health in myriad ways.

    Well, go right ahead, but with a caveat: If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should probably avoid drinking it every day; there’s simply not enough research about its effects. As always, talk to your doctor about what’s right for you. There’s also no standard recommended dietary intake for elderberry, so you should defer to your doctor’s recommendations.

    Potential risks and side effects of elderberry tea

    Almost anything you consume has the potential to produce side effects, however unlikely. That’s also true of elderberry tea. While the vast majority of people who drink elderberry tea simply enjoy their tea and its healing properties, some have reported occasional side effects, usually of the digestive variety.

    If the harvested elderberries used in your tea aren’t ripe or mature, they can contain cyanogenic glycosides. That sounds like a complicated term, so let’s simplify: They can create some issues for you. When they turn into toxic compounds in the body, you can end up experiencing unwanted symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

    How to make your own elderberry tea

    So, you’re convinced that elderberry tea is right for you. Good news: It’s simple to make your own. Go to your local health food store and do one of two things: Buy a bag of dried elderberries or buy a pre-made elderberry tea.

    Then you’ll need the following:

    • Water
    • 2-3 teaspoons of dried elderberries

    Just put the dried berries into a pot, add water, and boil. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, then strain the berries.

    If you’ve got pre-made elderberry tea, just steep it in hot water. Feel free to add some honey or ginger – or anything else you think might enhance the taste!

    Does elderberry tea have caffeine?

    Elderberry tea does not naturally contain caffeine. That said, some blends of elderberry tea may include other ingredients that do include caffeine. Be sure you’re checking the labels on everything you purchase. If you’d rather avoid caffeine, it shouldn’t be difficult to do so.

    Can you drink elderberry tea while on certain medications?

    Here’s what we know: Elderberry supplements can interact with certain medications. Depending on the dose, your elderberry tea may have a similar effect. As always, the best thing you can do is talk to your doctor about your particular case. Find out if there’s any chance that the medications you’re taking will interact with your elderberry tea. More often than not, you shouldn’t have any problems drinking your elderberry tea.

    Final takeaways

    People have made use of elderberry’s healing properties for thousands of years. While studies are still sparse, the early findings suggest that elderberry’s long-time popularity was not without merit. Elderberry can support immune health, cardiovascular health, and more.

    That said, you want to avoid eating raw, unripe elderberries, since they can upset your stomach.

    Elderberry tea is an increasingly popular herbal tea and is many people’s preferred way to get the benefits of elderberry. You can make your own at home, either from scratch or with the help of pre-made tea that only needs to be steeped. Elderberry tea can be consumed every day. If you’re not a fan of elderberry tea’s tart taste, add some honey, ginger, or orange juice – or something else! There are lots of great options available to you. As always, you should talk to your doctor before adding a new supplement to your routine.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.