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It has a rich, aromatic taste and is made from the leaves of the common mullein (Verbascum thapsus), a flowering plant native to Europe, Africa, and Asia.
This article examines the uses, benefits, and side effects of mullein tea — and tells you how to make it.
Potential benefits and uses of mullein tea
Mullein tea has been linked to several potential health benefits.
May treat respiratory conditions
Mullein has been used for thousands of years to treat respiratory conditions.
It may be especially effective at relieving asthma, which causes your airway to swell and results in symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath (
The flowers and leaves of the plant are also used to treat other respiratory ailments, such as tuberculosis, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and pneumonia. However, no human research has studied whether mullein combats these conditions (
May help fight viral infections
Some test-tube studies suggest that mullein may possess powerful antiviral properties.
Nonetheless, human research is needed.
Possesses antibacterial properties
Mullein tea may offer antibacterial effects as well.
Another test-tube study noted that mullein extract reduced the growth of certain types of bacteria that cause infections, such as E. coli and Streptococcus pyogenes (12).
Although limited human research is available, one study in 180 children indicated that this herb may treat ear infections, which are often caused by bacteria (
This 3-day study, which used ear drops that contained mullein alongside several other herbal extracts 3 times daily, reduced ear pain by 93%, on average. However, it’s unclear to what extent this effect was due to mullein extract versus other herbs used in the ear drops (
Thus, additional human research is needed.
Mullein may have antiviral and antibacterial properties and help treat certain respiratory conditions. However, further studies are necessary.
Potential side effects of mullein tea
Most people can enjoy mullein tea safely with minimal risk of adverse effects.
Yet, the mullein plant may cause skin irritation for some people, so be sure to exercise caution if you’re handling the herb directly (
The tiny hairs of the plant can also irritate your throat, which is why it’s important to strain this tea thoroughly before drinking it.
Additionally, no research is available on mullein tea’s safety for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Thus, these populations should consult a healthcare professional before using it.
If you notice any negative side effects after drinking this tea, consider scaling back your intake or avoiding it.
Mullein tea is widely considered safe and has few side effects. Still, you should strain your tea properly and exercise caution if handling the herb directly to prevent skin irritation.
How to make it
You can find prepackaged mullein tea bags, extracts, capsules, tinctures, and dried leaves at many health stores, as well as online.
What’s more, many people grow mullein in their garden and dry the leaves on their own.
To make the tea with dried leaves, simply add a small handful of them to an 8-ounce (240-ml) cup of boiling water, then steep them for 15–30 minutes. To prevent throat irritation, use a strainer or cheesecloth to remove as many of the leaves as possible.
If you desire, you can add raw honey, cinnamon, or a lemon wedge.
Mullein tea is easy to make with dried leaves or a teabag, though you should be sure to strain the leaves.
The bottom line
Mullein tea is made from the leaves of the mullein plant.
Although research in humans is limited, test-tube studies suggest that it may relieve certain respiratory conditions, such as asthma, and even fight viruses and bacteria.
This flavorful tea is easy to make at home and associated with very few side effects.