The Healthiest Herbal Tea

The Healthiest Herbal Tea
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More than a dozen herbal teas were compared for their antioxidant activity.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Walking through the herbal tea aisle can be daunting. Thankfully, last year, this study was published, comparing the antioxidant activity of more than a dozen different types of herbal tea.

They’re all good for you, so the healthiest one is probably the one you’ll drink the most of. But if you don’t have a favorite, which is healthiest? Bergamot tea, chamomile, dandelion, fennel, jasmine, hawthorn, lavender, lemongrass, lemon verbena, peppermint, rooibos—also known as red tea—rosemary tea, thyme tea, or rosehip tea?

For years, I’ve been looking for good herbal tea data—and here it was, all in one place, thanks to a group of intrepid Korean investigators.

For the first elimination round, let’s pick the top ten. There are 14 listed here. The first three to drop out of the running? Bergamot, fennel, and thyme. Then, even peppermint doesn’t make the top ten cut. Here are the top five: chamomile, dandelion, lemongrass, rooibos, and rosehip.

And the #1 most antioxidant-packed herbal tea? Dandelion. Who would have guessed?

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Walking through the herbal tea aisle can be daunting. Thankfully, last year, this study was published, comparing the antioxidant activity of more than a dozen different types of herbal tea.

They’re all good for you, so the healthiest one is probably the one you’ll drink the most of. But if you don’t have a favorite, which is healthiest? Bergamot tea, chamomile, dandelion, fennel, jasmine, hawthorn, lavender, lemongrass, lemon verbena, peppermint, rooibos—also known as red tea—rosemary tea, thyme tea, or rosehip tea?

For years, I’ve been looking for good herbal tea data—and here it was, all in one place, thanks to a group of intrepid Korean investigators.

For the first elimination round, let’s pick the top ten. There are 14 listed here. The first three to drop out of the running? Bergamot, fennel, and thyme. Then, even peppermint doesn’t make the top ten cut. Here are the top five: chamomile, dandelion, lemongrass, rooibos, and rosehip.

And the #1 most antioxidant-packed herbal tea? Dandelion. Who would have guessed?

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

To learn more about herbal teas, check out these videos:
Herbal Tea Update: Rooibos & Nettle
Is There Too Much Aluminum in Tea?
How Much Hibiscus Tea is Too Much?
Chamomile Tea May Not Be Safe During Pregnancy
Enhancing Athletic Performance With Peppermint

And check out my other videos on tea

For additional context, also see my blog posts: Hibiscus tea: flower power, and Hibiscus Tea: The Best Beverage?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

43 responses to “The Healthiest Herbal Tea

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    1. Hi Dr. Greger,

      I have been suffering from Chronic Gastritis and would like to know which tea would be good for me? I also would like to see a video on the subject( Gastritis) I am vegan and Gluten Free. I have Crohn’s and Celiac. I grew up drinking black tea and seem to have trouble stopping it. I like the taste of Roibos, White tea, Hibiscus but I do not like the taste of green tea. I heard that slipery Elm, or Marshmelow tea are good for the heart burn, what do you know about that? I do not like the taste of both those teas but if it would help my disease I would drink it.




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      1. It is possible that your GI tract doesn’t tolerate black tea and would explore other options as you mentioned. You might find some useful suggestions in Dr. John McDougall’s articles in his monthly newsletter… see Feb 2002 for gastritis… My stomach is on fire and I can’t put it out and Nov 2002 for inflammatory bowel disease… Chained to the Bathroom and Sept 2005 on Wheat and Celiac Disease. As he mentions there are some plant products that cause inflammation in the GI tract. Good luck.




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    2. Hi

      I’ve just read about thyme tea, can you tell us anything regarding any healing properties/benefits. If any at all?

      Ps keep up the great work!




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      1. Hi Tanju, NF Moderator here!
        Thyme is a herb with high antioxidant activity, like the others in the video. You can read why antioxidants are important in this article by Dr Greger.
        As the video states, it might not have quite the same benefits as other teas, but it is still healthy! In this video we can see that even as a herb in a salad thyme can be great at boosting antioxidant intake over other herbs.




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    1. The study Dr. Greger alluded to placed green tea first, black tea second, then dandelion, hawthorn, rose hip, chamomile (in that order). But like he said you’re likely to get the most benefits from the herbal tea you’re inclined to drink more often :)




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    2. The researchers listed the top ten as: Green tea, black tea, dandelion, lemon grass, haw thorn,rose hip, chamomile, rooibos, Lemon verbena and rosemary (in that order)




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  1. Hi Dr. Greger,
    My first question is do you recommend dandelion root or the leaves? As a result of this video I ran out and bought dried dandelion leaves. I put a teaspoon in boiling water, strained it, and drank it. In a little while, my mouth went totally dry which scared me. It seems that dandelion has a strong diuretic effect. Second question: can this really be healthful?




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    1. Hi Gary, I don’t see the connection here. Dry mouth –> liver? Can you explain? Also does anyone know if we can just pick some leaves from the garden and put them in our salads or soups? Thank you.




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  2. Dr. Gregor,
    Thanks for all your great videos. I love to drink different types of herbal tea every day, but many of my favorite teas, even the organic ones, list “natural flavors” as an ingredient. I’ve read the government definition of what can be included in these flavors, but it isn’t clear to me whether or not they are safe. It’s not too hard to choose unflavored teas, but is it worth the effort to choose teas (which often don’t taste quite as good) to avoid these flavor compounds or are they completely harmless? Thanks!




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  3. Thank you for you work on all this information. – You cut to the chase and give with grafts a visual for what is top… Thanks again.

    Jean




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  4. was rosehip tea much inferior? my mum makes it in a thermos all the time – it tastes fantastic when brewed for enough time (a couple of hours or even more). I think now I’ll buy a thermos myself (and research what else can be brewed to max my ORAC :))




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  5. I’m curious about the nutritional content of wild foods. I read that dandelion has ten times the phytonutrients of the average green. I can buy two types, red and regular. I hear that mint and other herbs are considered wild foods, as well as green onions. Which ones are safe to eat and which ones are not?




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  6. While in vitro antioxidant assays are a useful proxy for total polyphenol content, they can’t say much about how the polyphenols are metabolized (many have low bioavailability), or how they function. Polyphenols may be functioning as pro-oxidants in vivo, which may be their disease preventing mechanism:

    Plant-derived compounds as antioxidants for health–are they all really antioxidants
    Polyphenols as adaptogens—the real mechanism of the antioxidant effect

    Research strategies in the study of the pro-oxidant nature of polyphenol nutraceuticals

    Of the herbal teas listed here, the most interesting in my readings has been rosemary, due to the high content of polyphenols carnosol, carnosic acid, and rosemarinic acid. Carnosol is of considerable interest as an anti-inflamatory and anti-cancer agent:

    Carnosol: a promising anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent
    Antiangiogenic effect of carnosic acid and carnosol, neuroprotective compounds in rosemary leaves

    Carnosic acid, unlike many dietary polyphenols, has high bioavailability, even past the blood-brain barrier, where its neuroprotective:

    Carnosic acid, a catechol-type electrophilic compound, protects neurons both in vitro and in vivo through activation of the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway viaS-alkylation of targeted cysteines on Keap1

    Were those effects not enough, carnosic acid also appears to inhibit fat absorption:

    Carnosic acid, a new class of lipid absorption inhibitor from sageInhibition of gastric lipase as a mechanism for body weight and plasma lipids reduction in Zucker rats fed a rosemary extract rich in carnosic acid

    Sage is also high in carnosic acid, and a mixture of sage and black tea is a traditional in Greece and the mideast and quite tasty.




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  7. I wonder if chrysanthemum tea would be similar to dandelion, healthwise. It’s very popular in Asia… I don’t think there’s any scientific data covering this though… Anyone?




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  8. I use a wheatgrass juicer and grow my own wheatgrass. During the spring, summer, fall, I go out and collect dandelions in stead and juice them. They’re more tolerable than wheatgrass. I call it a vitamin in a shotglass.




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    1. The roots are usually used for Dandelion Tea. You can buy pure medicinal (meaning pure and strong) dandelion tea called “Traditional Medicinal” Roasted Dandelion Root tea. I hope I can leave that because I am not selling it, just drinking. Whole Foods & more conventional supermarkets (Kroger) sell organic Dandelion Leaves – fresh – for salads. Use the stalky part too as it is great for the gut microbiomes & increases probiotics in your gut. I just did a University course on this. :D Don’t use them from your yard if there is any chance of pesticides – that’s probably obvious but I just thought I would add.




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    1. Dandelion? But with the tea, they use the root. The leaves can be found in grocery stores in the produce section and are very healthy and packed with nutrition.




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    1. Thanks for your question Susie.

      According to WebMD & I quote:

      – Dandelion is an herb. People use the above ground parts and root to make medicine.
      – Dandelion is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.
      – Dandelion is used for loss of appetite, upset stomach, intestinal gas, gallstones, joint pain, muscle aches, eczema, and bruises. Dandelion is also used to increase urine production and as a laxative to increase bowel movements. It is also used as skin toner, blood tonic, and digestive tonic.
      – Some people use dandelion to treat infection, especially viral infections, and cancer.
      In foods, dandelion is used as salad greens, and in soups, wine, and teas. The roasted root is used as a coffee substitute.

      Hope this answer helps.




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  9. I would like to know what the Dr or anyone thinks of Olive Leaf tea, it seems to be quite the powerful tea to drink with reported benefits to blood pressure and blood sugar. Feels like a good alternative or addition to hibiscus for that. Relevant links being

    https://draxe.com/olive-leaf-benefits/
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_leaf
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4227229/

    Anyone got any thoughts on this extract or teas effectiveness or safety. I’m starting to try having a cup of day to see if it has any effects. It’s a lovely tasting tea that is similar in flavour to green tea so it’s nice to drink regardless of any benefits. Just want to be sure it will be safe to regularly consume. Cheers!




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    1. Hi Jim, I had not heard of this type of tea before but after looking at the references you provided it looks like it is not only safe but has a long track record of use. Thanks for pointing this out to us.




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      1. Hi, I enjoyed drinking the tea for a month or two. I did however start to get a taste in my mouth that I didn’t like. It seemed to have gone since stopping drinking it.

        I would like to see it featured on NF but perhaps there is still somehow insufficient evidence on it. Mainly on how much is ok to consume re: any negative effects.

        I also brought some Hawthorne tea having discovered research on this. I’ve yet to try this tea.

        I’ve been content with my BP and diet mainly due to having had such large improvements doing my own isotonic hand grip exercises using a simple strength measuring device.

        Cheers!




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  10. Dandelion is amazing. The greens alone are one of the richest sources of calcium I’ve come across. According to the website cronometer, 10% of the RDA (based on the traditional 1000 mg RDA no less! so even more if you’re going by the recommend 600mg or 700 in the UK) per just one cup of raw dandelion greens! I want to start growing my own. They should do more studies on this plant considering the entire plant can be utilized and has so many benefits not to mention it literally grows like “weeds” (the quotations existing since I consider no plant a weed, hehe).




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  11. Was milk thistle part of this study? I’m surprised to not see it as part of the top 10. Also would be interested to hear about the differentiating benefits of each of them. That would be cool to know more about.




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  12. I’m surprised milk thistle wasn’t a part of this study. I wonder if it would have surpassed dandelion if it were. Oh and hibiscus! Also would be interested to hear about the differentiating benefits of each of them. That would be cool to know more about.




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  13. What about Yacon leave tea? I’ve read that it may protect against diabetes.

    in fact, I was searching for information about inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) but my search only brought up this video. I have a small organic vegetable plot and grow jerusalem artichokes (a source of inulin) and yacon (or Smallanthus sonchifolius) which is a rich source of FOS. Because of this, they have a nice sweet flavor and I have been told that inulin and FOS both have good effect on insuline levels and that FOS also stimulate the growth of good gut bacteria. I have searched pubmed and have, so far, only come across very positive studies on Yacon! I’d love to see Dr. Gregor do a video on this.
    *Are Inulin and FOS really such wonder foods?
    *What other foods are great sources of inulin and FOS?
    *Should it be giving more attention in the health community?




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  14. It is important to keep in mind that different types of teas provide different health benefits. Likewise, each kind of tea carries unique healing properties. For example, “Fennel is used to improve digestion, relieve flatulence, treat hypertension, increase milk production in breast-feeding mothers, and treat respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders”…. while other types of teas will have entirely different affect on our bodies. To make it even more complicated, not all of us will respond the same way to each of kind of tea.




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  15. Good morning! I love Dandelion tea and I wonder how it compares to Apple Cider Vinegar. I love your content and that you keep the video’s short. Thank you!




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  16. Hey Julia, thanks for writing! It’s an unfair comparison. The effects of Dandelion are due to plant chemicals. The effects of vinegar are due to its acetic acid content. I hope this helps!




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