Best Tea for Congestion

It’s the middle of the night, and you wake up struggling to breathe through your nose. Your mouth is dry and you are losing sleep due to the discomfort.    Luckily, …

Photo of author
Written by: Siobhan Mendicino
Published on:
Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
Learn about our editorial process

It’s the middle of the night, and you wake up struggling to breathe through your nose. Your mouth is dry and you are losing sleep due to the discomfort.   

Luckily, some natural herbs for congestion possess health benefits that may help clear out mucus, reduce nasal inflammation, and help you breathe easier. 

Herbal teas can be a great way to reduce congestion and may support a quicker recovery. In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of congestion and offer some of the best tea for congestion symptoms. 

best tea for congestion

Best Herbal Teas for Congestion 

Below is a list of recommended suppliers and the best herbs with health benefits that make them useful in herbal teas for congestion. These herbal remedies have been known to ease congestion complications in numerous ways.  

eucalyptus tea

1. Eucalyptus 

Native to Australia, eucalyptus leaf is a popular herb used to reduce congestion. The intense minty oils work to ease inflammation in the nasal cavity and expel mucus from the respiratory tract. 

Eucalyptus is an excellent option if you struggle with sinusitis (nasal cavity inflammation), allergies or common cold symptoms.  

In a review of eucalyptus essential oil, researchers discovered that the essential oil is highly effective in minimizing the effects of virus infections. The active constituents in the essential oil showed anti-inflammatory, decongestant, and anti-catarrhal (mucus-expelling) activity.

A clinical trial found that a salve containing eucalyptus oil was significantly effective for nasal decongestion. Subjects experienced congestion relief within 62 seconds of application. 

A lab-based study discovered that the main active constituent in eucalyptus, eucalyptol, significantly reduces inflammation. 

Registered herbalist, David Hoffman, recommends eucalyptus as a topical anti-microbial and internal decongestant and expectorant. 

Eucalyptus has an intense mint and pine aroma with a similar flavor. Brew eucalyptus tea in boiling water and cover while it infuses. Inhale the steam as you sip to reap the full health benefits. The tea is best enjoyed with peppermint and rosemary.  

Where To Buy:

Starwest Botanicals has a full lineup of organic herbal teas with many different options. Whether you are looking for the whole herb or a tea blend, Starwest is a great choice.

➡️ Buy Organic Eucalyptus – Cut & Sift
➡️ Buy Organic Respiratory Tea Blend
peppermint tea

2. Peppermint 

Popular peppermint tea is revered for its simultaneous cooling and warming effects. This herb contains menthol and menthone, two phytochemicals that have powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

Peppermint tea is best used for people experiencing allergies or cold symptoms accompanied by intense congestion.

In a review of various essential oils, researchers found that inhaling peppermint essential oil can help with cold symptoms. The oil also reduced the frequency of allergy complications.   

In a clinical trial, researchers found that peppermint essential oil increases oxygen intake, suggesting that the essential oil impacts the respiratory tract. Researchers believe these results are due to peppermint’s ability to relax the respiratory tract, which could potentially ease congestion during a cold.    

An animal study discovered that peppermint essential oil significantly reduced the likelihood of allergy reactions. Researchers noted this was due to the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties. 

The European Medicines Agency recommends peppermint for cough and cold symptoms. 

Peppermint tea has an invigorating, minty fragrance and flavor. Peppermint tea blends well with lemon balm, rose, and lavender and should be brewed with a cover to trap all the beneficial volatile oils. Like eucalyptus, it’s best to inhale the steam while you enjoy peppermint tea to experience all of this herb’s health benefits.  

Where To Buy:

➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Peppermint Leaf- Cut & Sift
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Peppermint Leaf – Powder
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Peppermint Tea Bags
thyme tea

3. Thyme    

Thyme is another plant that belongs to the mint, or Lamiaceae, family. It is most often used for its antiviral properties. 

This herb is best for those experiencing cold symptoms from a viral infection.  

In a clinical trial, thyme syrup significantly reduced allergy symptoms in patients with allergic rhinitis (allergies). Researchers noted that the syrup specifically affected nasal congestion. 

A second clinical trial involving patients undergoing surgery for chronic rhinosinusitis (swelling of the sinus cavities) discovered that thyme honey nasal spray significantly reduced inflammation and the chance of polyp formation. The spray also helped the mucosal lining heal faster.   

Another clinical study found that thyme significantly alleviated upper respiratory tract infection symptoms. Researchers also noted that it shortened the length of the infection, suggesting that it has antiviral properties.  

The American Botanical Council recommends thyme for alleviating cold and respiratory infection symptoms. 

Thyme has a savory, herbaceous scent with flavor notes of earth and hints of mint, so it should be paired with “sweeter” herbs, like cinnamon and anise.

Where To Buy:

➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Thyme – Cut & Sift
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Thyme – Powder
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Respiratory Tea Blend
echinacea tea

4. Echinacea 

Echinacea, commonly known as the purple coneflower, has been used for thousands of years to support and boost the immune system.

It is best used when the immune system is compromised due to viral or bacterial infections or allergy symptoms.  

In a review of clinical trials involving echinacea, researchers concluded that echinacea is most effective in supporting upper respiratory infections. The results suggest that this is due to echinacea’s immune-stimulating properties. 

A lab-based study discovered that echinacea has antiviral properties against numerous virus strains, including some that cause colds and respiratory infections. Researchers also noted that echinacea has anti-inflammatory effects suggesting that it may be helpful in reducing congestion inflammation. 

David Hoffmann recommends echinacea for microbial infections – both viral and bacterial. He specifically suggests it for the common cold, sinus congestion, and nose catarrhal conditions.

As a tea, echinacea has a sweet, floral flavor similar to its aroma. It is best paired with rose, elderberry, and ginger and should be consumed when the first signs of congestion (from a cold or allergies) appear. 

Since echinacea is on the United Plant Savers “at-risk” list, it is important to only source organic, cultivated echinacea.     

Where To Buy:

➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Echinacea – Cut & Sift
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Echinacea – Powder
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Immune Support Tea Blend
ginger tea

5. Ginger

Ginger has been considered a functional food and therapeutic herb for thousands of years due to its ability to reduce inflammation.

Ginger tea is best for people who are experiencing the beginning symptoms of a cold, have a cold, or manage seasonal allergies. 

In a clinical study involving patients with allergic rhinitis, researchers found that ginger is just as effective as an over-the-counter medication at soothing allergy symptoms. Ginger was specifically helpful for nasal issues and caused fewer side effects than the OTC medication. 

A lab-based study discovered that ginger is helpful for relaxing the respiratory tract in airway complications like asthma. This suggests that ginger may be helpful for reducing inflammation that causes congestion. 

The American Botanical Council recommends ginger for infections that cause inflammation, like colds and flu.  

Ginger tea smells sweet and has a pungent, spicy, and sweet flavor. Ginger tea is best combined with elderflower, hibiscus, and a dash of honey to balance out the flavors and should be taken at the first signs of a cold, for allergies, or during a respiratory infection. 

Where To Buy:

➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Ginger – Cut & Sift
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Ginger – Powder
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Respiratory Tea Blend


Congestion occurs when the lining of the nasal cavity becomes swollen and irritated. It is often accompanied by other symptoms like stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, and cough

Researchers have discovered that 11.6%, or 28.9 million people in the US, struggle with sinusitis; 2.7 million are managing chronic sinusitis. 

One of the leading causes of congestion is microbes (viruses and bacteria). They collect in the upper respiratory tract causing inflammation and infection. 

Congestion may also result from environmental irritants like allergens and pollutants. 

Herbal teas may ease congestion discomfort, soothe inflammation, clear out mucus, and support the immune system.

thyme tea for congestion

Best Tea for Congestion Recipe:

Below is one of the best tea for congestion recipes that will support symptoms in times of discomfort. 


  • 1 tsp. organic peppermint leaf
  • 1 tsp. organic eucalyptus
  • ½ tsp. organic ginger
  • ½ tsp. organic thyme
  • ½ tsp. organic echinacea
  • 1 cup boiling water 
  • Sweetener of choice, to taste—I prefer raw, local honey


  1. Blend the herbs, put in a metal tea strainer, and add 1 cup of boiling water.
  2. Cover and steep for 10 – 15 minutes 
  3. Add sweetener of choice and enjoy!  

How Herbs Support Congestion:

Herbs can help improve upper respiratory issues in numerous ways. They may soothe inflammation, clear out mucus (decongest), and support the immune system.     

Some categories of herbs that help ease congestion include: 

  • Anti-inflammatory – these herbs soothe the nasal lining to minimize swelling, redness, and “stuffy” feelings that make it hard to breathe through the nose. Some anti-inflammatory herbs include garlic, chamomile, rosemary, and turmeric.      
  • Anti-catarrhal –  this category of herbs expels mucus resulting from sinus congestion. They’re commonly used during a nose, ear, or throat infection. Anti-catarrhal herbs include peppermint, elderflower and berry, and goldenseal.   
  • Immunomodulator – as the name suggests, these herbs help balance and support the immune system. If microbes invade the body, these herbs boost immune activity to help rid the body of the virus or bacteria.  

Ways to Improve Congestion:

There are various causes of congestion, but some of the main issues are microbes and inflammation. Inflammatory upper respiratory complications can be acute or chronic and also occur from environmental triggers. 

Some proactive and preventative ways to improve congestive discomfort include: 

  • Hydrate
  • Implementing air filters and purifiers 
  • Inhale steam (herbal respiratory steams)
  • Humidifier 
  • Hot shower 
  • Avoid areas with high allergen levels 
  • Flush sinuses regularly 
  • Enjoy spicy foods  
eucalyptus for congestion


Being congested can impact energy levels, sleep, and quality of life. Including herbal teas for congestion in your life may help ease discomfort and speed up the recovery period. 

It’s highly recommended to speak with a professional health practitioner if you’re considering adding any herbal teas to your daily routine.  

Barrett B. (2003). Medicinal properties of Echinacea: a critical review. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 10(1), 66–86.

Eccles, R. , Jawad, M. , Ramsey, D. and Hull, J. (2015) Efficacy of a Topical Aromatic Rub (Vicks VapoRub®)-Speed of Action of Subjective Nasal Cooling and Relief from Nasal Congestion. Open Journal of Respiratory Diseases, 5, 10-18. doi: 10.4236/ojrd.2015.51002.

Hashemian, F., Baghbanian, N., Majd, Z., Rouini, M. R., Jahanshahi, J., & Hashemian, F. (2015). The effect of thyme honey nasal spray on chronic rhinosinusitis: a double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial. European archives of oto-rhino-laryngology : official journal of the European Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (EUFOS) : affiliated with the German Society for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, 272(6), 1429–1435.

Horváth, G., & Ács, K. (2015). Essential oils in the treatment of respiratory tract diseases highlighting their role in bacterial infections and their anti-inflammatory action: a review. Flavour and fragrance journal, 30(5), 331–341.

Hudson, J., & Vimalanathan, S. (2011). Echinacea—A Source of Potent Antivirals for Respiratory Virus Infections. Pharmaceuticals, 4(7), 1019–1031.

Karsch-Völk, M., Barrett, B., Kiefer, D., Bauer, R., Ardjomand-Woelkart, K., & Linde, K. (2014). Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2014(2), CD000530.

McKay, D. L., & Blumberg, J. B. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy research : PTR, 20(8), 619–633.

Meamarbashi A. (2014). Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, 4(1), 72–78.

Mieres-Castro D, Ahmar S, Shabbir R, Mora-Poblete F. Antiviral Activities of Eucalyptus Essential Oils: Their Effectiveness as Therapeutic Targets against Human Viruses. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Nov 23;14(12):1210. doi: 10.3390/ph14121210. PMID: 34959612; PMCID: PMC8706319.

Nakamura T, Yoshida N, Yamanoi Y, Honryo A, Tomita H, Kuwabara H, Kojima Y. Eucalyptus oil reduces allergic reactions and suppresses mast cell degranulation by downregulating IgE-FcεRI signalling. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 1;10(1):20940. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77039-5. PMID: 33262354; PMCID: PMC7708995.

Oliviero, M., Romilde, I., Beatrice, M. M., Matteo, V., Giovanna, N., Consuelo, A., Claudio, C., Giorgio, S., Filippo, M., & Massimo, N. (2016). Evaluations of thyme extract effects in human normal bronchial and tracheal epithelial cell lines and in human lung cancer cell line. Chemico-biological interactions, 256, 125–133.

Park, N., Chung, J. Y., Kim, M. H., & Yang, W. M. (2022). Protective effects of inhalation of essential oils from Mentha piperita leaf on tight junctions and inflammation in allergic rhinitis. Frontiers in allergy, 3, 1012183.

Shao, J., Yin, Z., Wang, Y., Yang, Y., Tang, Q., Zhang, M., Jiao, J., Liu, C., Yang, M., Zhen, L., Hassouna, A., White, W. L., & Lu, J. (2020). Effects of Different Doses of Eucalyptus Oil From Eucalyptus globulus Labill on Respiratory Tract Immunity and Immune Function in Healthy Rats. Frontiers in pharmacology, 11, 1287.

Schönknecht, K., Krauss, H., Jambor, J., & Fal, A. M. (2016). Wiadomosci lekarskie (Warsaw, Poland : 1960), 69(6), 791–798.

Townsend, E. A., Siviski, M. E., Zhang, Y., Xu, C., Hoonjan, B., & Emala, C. W. (2013). Effects of ginger and its constituents on airway smooth muscle relaxation and calcium regulation. American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology, 48(2), 157–163.

Yadav, N., & Chandra, H. (2017). Suppression of inflammatory and infection responses in lung macrophages by eucalyptus oil and its constituent 1,8-cineole: Role of pattern recognition receptors TREM-1 and NLRP3, the MAP kinase regulator MKP-1, and NFκB. PloS one, 12(11), e0188232.

Yamprasert, R., Chanvimalueng, W., Mukkasombut, N., & Itharat, A. (2020). Ginger extract versus Loratadine in the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 20(1), 119.

Photo of author

About Siobhan Mendicino

Siobhan is a herbal researcher and writer. She has a bachelor of science in communications as well as having completed a post-baccalaureate certificate in herbal studies.