Have I ever told you about the time my entire family came down with Face Punch Disease? That was not what it was actually called, of course, but it perfectly describes what it felt like! We’d been traveling a lot that fall, and not taking our elderberry syrup or our fire cider. This year I’m prepared – I’ve got our natural remedy kit READY. TO. GO.
Since I ordered a big bag of black elderberries (Sambucus nigra), I’ve been experimenting with new ways to take advantage of their awesome benefits. My kids raved about this elderberry jam, and they’re also huge fans of this tea.
3 Benefits of Elderberry Tea
“For more than 1,000 years, herbalists have revered elder’s abilities, and mentions of the shrub are included in many important historical texts,” writes herbalist Rosalee De La Foret, adding that although it’s primarily used to support the body during cold and flu season there are other benefits, too. (1)
What benefits, you ask? Elderberries are rich in several constituents such as flavonoids and anthocyanins, which are highly bioactive antioxidants that:
- Help the body absorb vitamin C, which is essential for immune function and processes like collagen synthesis (2)
- Have immunomodulatory effects (Supports the immune system)
- Support a healthy inflammatory response – According to tradition, in 1899 an American sailor accidentally discovered that port wine colored with elderberries eased his aches. (3)
Although not technically a benefit, it also happens to be delicious when simmered with a cinnamon stick or a few slices of ginger. You can also brew it with other immune supportive herbs as needed. Echinacea, for example, is typically used for short periods of time (a few days to a week) to support immune function. According to some herbalists, using daily on a long-term basis can actually decrease its beneficial effects.
Something else to be aware of is that the process of making elderberry tea is a little different than most herbal teas, and you’ll want to use a two-step process if you incorporate echinacea.
Here’s why: As I cover in this post on different types of herbal preparations, roots, bark, berries woody plant parts need a little coaxing to release their therapeutic compounds. They need to simmer in water for 20-60 minutes (depending on the herb and what you’re trying to achieve), but that’s way too long for delicate flowers like echinacea.
For that reason, I suggest simmering the elderberry tea first and then adding the echinacea near the end.
Elderberry Tea Recipe
- Place elderberries, water and cinnamon/ginger (if using) in a pot. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain out the berries. If you're incorporating echinacea, add it to the tea, cover, and allow to steep for 5 minutes, then strain.
- Sweeten with raw honey or your preferred sweetener if desired before serving.
More Elderberry Recipes
Elderberry Syrup – According to a study in Norway, patients given elderberry extract felt better four days sooner than those who received a placebo. Here’s how to make a delicious traditional preparation of elderberries – elderberry syrup – at home.
Elderberry Gummies – Delicious, portable, and infused with powerful antioxidants, these elderberry gummies are one of my family’s favorite ways to support immune function during cold and flu season.
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This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
1. de la Foret, Rosalee (2017) Alchemy of Herbs
2. Jones, E and Hughes, R.E. (1984) The influence of bioflavonoids on the absorption of vitamin C
3. The East London Garden Society. Elderberries