Many people have a home remedy for treating a common cold, and that strategy may include a cup or two of tea.

According to the UK Tea & Infusions Association, human consumption of the leaves and buds of tea plants can be traced all the way back to 2737 B.C. in China. As the legend has it, Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree when some leaves blew into the boiled drinking water his servant had been preparing for him. The emperor tried the concoction, and the rest is history.

Morning, afternoon, and evening tea is now an integral part of people’s lives around the world—for ritual, nourishment, energy, and calm. Johns Hopkins University notes that simply staying hydrated can help your body fight the cold and potentially make you feel better by easing congestion. They suggest drinking decaffeinated tea with lemon and raw honey, which has its own antioxidant powers, to soothe a sore throat.

According to Penn Medicine, various types of tea do, in fact, provide some provable health benefits beyond hydration. Regardless of the information here or what you find online, you should discuss a new routine with your physician if you want to turn a healthier leaf.


“Sea Smoke” blend of black tea and seaweed by Cup of Sea.

Black, white, green, oolong, and pu’er teas are all made from the same plant, camellia sinensis. The difference between them is how they are processed. Black tea (or “red” tea in China) is the most consumed globally, and it gets its color through an oxidation process. UCLA Health notes that black tea has a unique antioxidant called theaflavin that lightly reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke with limited consumption, as it is the most caffeinated tea. But it also has an amino acid called L-theanine, which UCLA Health says can level off caffeine jitters.

Try it: Go from basic to bold with “Sea Smoke” by Cup of Sea, which mixes lapsang souchong, a smoked tea from China, with Maine dulse, for an extra mineral and vitamin punch. $12.99 for 1.5 oz. at


Japanese sencha imported by Green Tree Coffee and Tea

Penn Medicine notes that green tea is high in flavonoids, which are a type of metabolite found in plants. Flavonoids have been linked to improved heart health because they can help to lower levels of bad cholesterol and reduce blood clotting. In addition, a 2014 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition concluded that green tea and its catechins can help to improve blood pressure.

Try it: Green Tree Coffee and Tea in Lincolnville has a huge selection of teas and tisanes, including a verdant organic sencha from Japan. $16 for 4 oz. at


Chinese silver needle white tea imported by Little Red Cup

White teas are often expensive as they are made from the limited first flush of buds and leaves on tea plants. A comparative study published in the Journal of Food Science in 2010 found that non or minimally oxidized white tea might be the most effective cancer-fighting tea thanks to its robust antioxidant content. Penn Medicine also notes white tea is a source of fluoride, catechins and tannins, which means it could help to strengthen teeth and fight plaque.

Try it: The Little Red Cup in Brunswick carries certified organic, fair-trade blends from China. Jasmine Silver Needle is a special edition “luxurious” blend: white tea scented with jasmine flowers. $24.50 for 2 oz. at


“Take It Down” herbal relaxation blend grown by Wild Few Herbal Farm

Herbal teas are not technically tea, as they are made from the much wider world of “tisanes” instead of the tea plant. Tisanes are blends or infusions of dried fruits, flowers, spices, herbs, or, in the case of African rooibos, a legume. Common tisanes are linked to a host of health benefits, including improved sleep, reduced stress, and lower blood pressure, among others.

Harvard Medical School advises speaking with your physician about herbal teas, as they can have contraindications among individuals with certain medical conditions or on certain medications.

Try it: “Take It Down” from Wild Few Herb Farm in Arundel is a hand-harvested blend for relaxation, made of organic milky oat tops, skullcap, chamomile, lemon balm, and catnip. $16 for 2 oz. at

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