Elderberry Tea- Benefits, How to Make, & Side Effects

by John Staughton last updated -

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The benefits of elderberry tea include boosting the immune system, cleansing the body, improving vision, speeding up the metabolism, increasing respiratory health, lowering inflammation, protecting against chronic disease, aiding the healing process, stimulating digestion and eliminating chronic pain, among others. Elderberry tea also comes with a number of side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and a worsening of autoimmune conditions.

What is Elderberry Tea?

Elderberry tea is prepared by steeping the flowers of the elderberry plant that grow early in the blooming season before the berries appear on the plant. Scientifically known as Sambucus ceruleathis plant has been used for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years by indigenous people of the Americas, including the leaves, bark, roots, flowers, berries, and leaves. The plant itself is a shrub, but the flowers used for brewing tea are normally white and have a rather unpleasant smell. The health benefits of this tea are mainly derived from the rich concentrations of anthocyanins, quercetin, cinnamic acid, flavonoids, triterpenoids, and other antioxidants, as well as vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C.

Watch Video: 9 Best Benefits Of Elderberry Tea

Benefits of Elderberry Tea

Elderberry tea is a popular drink for people suffering from macular degeneration, respiratory infections, indigestion, constipation, high toxicity, chronic pain, obesity, poor metabolic function, bronchitis, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

Vision Health

Significant levels of vitamin A in elderberry tea make it the ideal booster for vision health. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant and can help prevent macular degeneration and slow the development of cataracts as you age.

Metabolic Function

The B-family vitamins are well represented in elderberry tea, most of which can boost the metabolism. By improving metabolic function, it can increase passive fat-burning, which can aid in weight loss efforts, while also optimizing various processes in the body related to hormones and digestion.

Detoxify the Body

Elderberry tea has been linked to laxative and diuretic effects, meaning that it can detoxify the body by expelling excess toxins, salts, and fats through urination. As a laxative, this tea can improve symptoms of constipation, reducing the occurrence of hemorrhoids, and maximize nutrient uptake efficiency.


Soothing the stomach with natural anti-inflammatory compounds, elderberry tea can reduce excess flatulence, indigestion, acid reflux disease, and stomach upset, making it an excellent tea for before or after meals.

Respiratory Infections

Some of the most popular traditional uses of elderberry tea relate to respiratory infections, bronchitis, coughs, and congestion. There appears to be decongestant and expectorant qualities in elderberries volatile compounds, helping to ease inflammation in the respiratory tracts and eliminating mucus and phlegm where bacteria and other pathogens can thrive.

Immune System

High levels of vitamin C make this herbal tea a potent immune system aid, as it can stimulate the production of white blood cells, and also act as an antioxidant throughout the body. Ascorbic acid can seek out free radicals and lower oxidative stress, which allows your immune system to focus on more pressing attacks and infections.

Pain and Inflammation

Studies have found that there are certain analgesic properties to elderberry tea, as well as anti-inflammatory properties that help those recovering from illness, injury or surgery. This tea is particularly popular for those suffering from back pain or joint disorders, and some people drink 2-3 cups per day to relieve pain from morning to night. Elderberry tea can also be used medicinally to treat symptoms of arthritis.


Due to the presence of various flavonoids, triterpenoids, and cinnamic acid, a number of research studies have tried to link elderberry tea to cancer prevention and anti-mutagenic properties. While these studies are still ongoing, early results show that the antioxidants in this tea can help defend against oxidative stress, cell mutation, and apoptosis in healthy cells.

How do You Make Elderberry Tea?

Brewing your own elderberry tea is quite easy, and requires nothing more than a few flowerheads from the elderberry plant, cinnamon, and mint. While some people prefer to make a syrup from crushed elderberries and use that to quickly make an elderberry-flavored beverage, the milder form of tea made from the flowerheads is also very effective, and more pleasant to taste. You can use the unopened flowerheads to brew this delicious tea or wait until they bloom for a milder, sweeter flavored drink.



  • 2-3 flowerheads (umbrels)
  • 1 cup of water (filtered)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 4-5 mint leaves

Step 1 – Place the flowerheads in a teapot.

Step 2 – Bring the water to a boil and then remove from heat.

Step 3 – Pour the water over the flowerheads and allow to steep for 5-8 minutes, depending on your desired strength.

Step 4 – Strain the mixture and add the cinnamon and mint leaves.

Step 5 – Enjoy!

What Does an Elderberry Taste Like?

Elderberry has a unique flavor, ranging from tangy and tart to bitter or sweet, depending on when in the growing season they are picked, and which variety you are eating. European black elderberries tend to be more tart or bitter, whereas American elderberries are typically sweet, and are more popular for use in jams, desserts, and candies.

Elderberry Tea Side Effects

The side effects of elderberry tea are mainly gastrointestinal in nature, resulting in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This can be due to consuming an excessive amount or if one has a particular allergy to the elderberry plant or other members of the Sambucus genus. However, other side effects related to specific medical conditions or drug interactions.

  • Diabetic Problems – Given that elderberry tea does have blood sugar-lowering tendencies, hypoglycemic patients should be careful when adding elderberry tea to their diet. This could cause dangerously low blood sugar, resulting in fainting or diabetic shock. Speak to your doctor before consuming this powerful tea.
  • Autoimmune Disease – Many of the antioxidants found in elderberry tea are excellent stimulants for the immune system, but this can exacerbate certain autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or lupus.
  • Pregnancy – A limited amount of research has been done on the effects of elderberry tea during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, but due to the wide range of powerful chemicals found in this tea, it is not recommended. 
  • Mistaken Identity – The elderberry plant looks extremely similar to water hemlock, which is a very toxic and lethal plant when ingested. Do not pick elderberry in the wild unless you are trained to know the difference, or else a mistake could cost you your life!
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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