We all love it when the weather starts changing and the mornings gradually get cooler. But colder temperatures mean that cold and flu season is coming up, which can be a huge problem for people who are susceptible to colds, work around a lot of people, or have kids at home. Colds can spread fast and make everyone miserable.

If you ask a doctor (or a mom), the first thing they’ll tell you is: drink more fluids. This is good advice, but which fluids are best? Warm teas not only provide medicinal relief when you choose the right herbs, but the warmth soothes your throat, and additives like honey and lemon can help suppress your cough. If you take advantage of the best teas out there for cold and flu relief, you can speed up your recovery and enjoy a fresh herbal remedy at the same time.


1.   Peppermint

Peppermint’s distinct cooling sensation comes from menthol, which makes a great cough suppressant. Just breathing the steam off a cup of peppermint tea can relieve congested sinuses. Drinking it can lower inflammation and pain in your whole body.

If that wasn’t enough, peppermint has even been studied by major drug organizations for its antiviral and antimicrobial properties. It’s the multipurpose cold and flu-fighting tea that no pantry should be without as we approach the winter months.


2.   Echinacea

You may know echinacea more as an immune-boosting supplement than as a tea, but this herb is notorious for its ability to shorten a cold or flu. If you feel an illness coming on and don’t need specific decongestive effects (yet), echinacea tea might even be able to prevent the cold altogether by boosting your immune response.

It works as a light anti-inflammatory supplement as well. Herbal teas often mix lemon or mint with the echinacea for an even tastier immune-boosting beverage to warm you up during flu season.


3.   Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle is an ancient remedy for the flu due to its ability to boost your immune system with Vitamin C and carotene. Don’t let its aggressive name turn you off: it’s packed with antioxidants and helps you fight the systemic inflammation that results naturally from being sick.

Those who already have chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis may have heard of nettle tea before, but not in the context of getting over a nasty cold. As a tea, it can do a lot of good.


4.   Ginger

Ginger is a well-known herbal remedy and it’s a cold germ’s worst nightmare. It can both prevent colds from coming on and soothe one you already have by reducing inflammation in your throat, reducing congestion, and even clearing up bacterial and viral issues related to your sickness as well.

Ginger is a powerful antioxidant and tests higher for antibacterial effects than some prescription antibiotics. With a little lemon, it makes a perfect tea to weather a winter cold.


5.   Chamomile

Chamomile tea doesn’t have the direct antiviral properties of some of the other teas I listed, but it does have one other effect that’s essential to cold and flu recovery: it’s a sleep aid. Chamomile relaxes you and helps you get restful sleep, which is a huge part of effective recovery.

There’s some evidence that it’s also a mild anti-inflammatory, which is great if true. But the main reason to drink it is to relax your poor inflamed body in the evening and help it get the tranquil sleep it needs to get better.


6.   Elderberry

Elderberries are up there with their better-known cousins, blueberries and cranberries, in terms of antioxidants. The advantage they have here is that they work great in teas. The fruity taste is more appealing than echinacea and can boost your polyphenols to zap your cold much quicker than conventional remedies.

Elderberry is an ancient remedy and it still tastes delicious while providing antioxidants to clear up your cold.


The Takeaway

With cold and flu season looming, you need to stack your pantry full of congestion-fighting essentials. These herbal teas give you a range of options, from echinacea, which can prevent colds before they come on, to peppermint, which can help you decongest just by smelling it.

These natural remedies taste better than medications and can be augmented with honey or lemon for even more healing properties. Find something that you and your family will be willing to drink so you have a fallback remedy when someone starts feeling sniffly.