Drinking warm beverages like tea may help calm and soothe a cough. Certain varieties, including honey, ginger, and peppermint, may have more specific benefits.

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

Having a cough, especially when you’re ill, can be annoying. It can also deplete your energy and disrupt sleep, leaving you even weaker.

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

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

Drinking hot tea

Most herbal teas are brewed with boiling water. Be sure to wait for your tea to cool before drinking it to avoid burning your mouth.

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

Studies of children have found honey to be effective at relieving nighttime coughs and improving sleep. A 2018 review found that honey was more — or just as — effective than over-the-counter (OTC) cough medications in relieving cough symptoms.

Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age due to a 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, use raw organic honey.

You can buy several types of honey at grocery and health stores and online.

People have used licorice root in traditional medicine for various conditions, including coughs, infections, and digestive problems.

According to a 2015 review, some studies have indicated that licorice may be effective at stopping the growth of several species of bacteria, fungi, and even some viruses.

Also, a study in mice found that components in licorice may decrease cough frequency by 30% to 78%. The study also found that licorice compounds can act as expectorants, which may help loosen mucus.

Pregnant people should avoid using licorice root. Also, consuming large quantities of licorice root might cause high blood pressure or drops in potassium levels.

How to make

If you’d like to make licorice root tea, 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. Allow it to cool for several minutes afterward. Strain before serving.
  • From premade tea: You can buy licorice root tea at your grocery or local health stores. You can also find it online. Follow the product directions to make the tea.

Not only is ginger a popular ingredient in many foods and drinks, but it has various health benefits. Some people use it for several health conditions, including asthma, nausea, and arthritis.

A 2015 study notes ginger has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help soothe an irritated throat and airways caused by coughing.

Also, according to a 2016 animal study, ginger extract significantly inhibited cough in guinea pigs.

Still, 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 either fresh ginger or premade tea:

  • From fresh ginger: Peel and thinly slice 3 one-inch pieces of ginger. Then add it to 4 cups of boiling water. Boil for about 15 minutes. Strain before drinking.
  • From premade tea: You can buy many ginger teas at grocery and health stores or online. Follow the product directions to make the 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 we eat as snacks.

Marshmallow root seems to act as an enzyme to help loosen mucus and inhibit bacteria, according to a 2017 study.

A 2020 study suggested that the anti-inflammatory effects of marshmallow root may help decrease swelling in mucus membranes while relieving cough.

Marshmallow root may affect the absorption of orally taken medications. Taking marshmallow root several hours before or after taking oral medications is best.

If you take medications, talk with a doctor or healthcare professional to determine whether marshmallow root is right for you. It may interact with many medications.

It may not be a good choice for people taking medications for blood sugar.

Do not use marshmallow root tea if you are pregnant.

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 and health food stores or online. Be sure to follow the product directions.

Over time people have consumed green tea as a beverage. They have also used it for various medicinal purposes, from weight loss and headache relief to improving alertness.

One 2015 study investigated gargling with green tea following a surgical procedure that required intubation. Researchers found that although green tea didn’t help with hoarseness, it did reduce coughing.

Green tea is generally safe when consumed in moderate amounts, although it may interact with certain beta-blockers. It contains caffeine, which may make you feel jittery or affect your sleep if consumed too 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 and allow to cool slightly 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 and allow to cool slightly before drinking.
  • From premade tea: Various green teas are available in stores or online. Follow the directions on the product to make the tea.

People often use the herb thyme as a spice. It also has antimicrobial activity and may be beneficial for treating coughs, according to a 2019 clinical review.

A 2021 controlled trial investigated an extract of thyme and ivy in people with acute cough. Their research suggested the extract may help reduce coughing fits and severity.

Avoid thyme tea if you have an allergy to thyme or a related spice.

How to make

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 them to steep for about 5 minutes. Strain before drinking.
  • From premade tea: You can buy thyme tea at grocery or health stores or online. Follow the product instructions to brew the tea.

Peppermint is a member of the mint family. People have used it throughout history for various purposes, including treating the common cold, digestive problems, and headaches.

Some research has indicated that peppermint has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and pain-relieving properties. If you have a cold, the properties of peppermint tea may help ease 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 them to steep for about 5 minutes. Strain before drinking.
  • From premade tea: Purchase peppermint tea from your local grocery, health store, or online. Follow the product instructions to make the tea.

There are several other remedies to ease a cough. 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 (OTC) cough medications for acute coughs. However, due to dangerous side effects, do not give these medications to children under 6 years old.

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 soothe a throat that feels raw or sore from coughing.
  • Loosen mucus. Warm fluids like tea can help loosen or break up mucus. This can make it easier to cough up mucus.
  • Provide other health benefits. The natural components in tea, such as anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial properties, may have health benefits.

Based on scientific evidence, the seven types of tea above may help ease your cough and related symptoms.

Contact a doctor if you have a cough that:

Seek emergency medical attention for a cough that:

Learn answers to common questions about teas for cough.

What tea is good for sore throat and cough?

Drinking more fluids can help soothe a cough and sore throat and loosen secretions. These extra fluids can also help prevent dehydration.

Though any tea may be worthwhile due to its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits, consider the seven teas on this list as a starting point. Also, drink them hot — not iced — for even more soothing benefits.

What can I drink to stop coughing?

Hot beverages, such as teas and broths, can help soothe a cough. These may also act as natural expectorants, which help break up mucus.

Still, it’s important to know that though a cough can be inconvenient, it’s your body’s natural response to getting rid of irritants. Unless you have an underlying chronic condition that requires long-term treatment, such as asthma, coughs associated with illnesses will likely need to run their course.

What is the fastest way to cure a cough?

Getting rid of a cough depends on its underlying cause. Because there’s no cure for colds, any related cough will improve with time, but drinking fluids such as hot tea can help you feel better.

Research is ongoing, but several types of tea may help ease your cough and the other 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, contact a doctor if your cough lasts longer than 3 weeks.

Coughing up green mucus may be a sign of an infection. Contact a doctor if you have other concerning symptoms, like fever or shortness of breath.