It is no secret that I’m a fan of elderberries for their natural immune-boosting powers. I make elderberry syrup in batches during the cooler months to keep the flu at bay, but my favorite way to take it is actually a warm, comforting cup of elderberry tea.
Imagine for a moment … six small children … all getting the flu … all at the same time …
I’m convinced elderberries are one of the reasons why that (thankfully!) hasn’t happened to us this year. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for this natural remedy.
Benefits of Elderberry Tea
Black elderberries (or sambucus nigra) are small, dark purple berries common in parts of North America and Central Europe. Elderberries can be used in jellies, pies, or baked goods much like any berry. They can also be dried and made into teas, tinctures, and syrups for medicinal purposes.
Several studies (like this one) show that elderberry syrup administered at the first sign of illness seems to shorten the severity and length of colds and flu. Its effectiveness is probably thanks to elderberry’s high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as a flavonoid and antioxidant profile that outranks other berries.
How to Use Elderberries (+ Recipes)
There are plenty of easy ways to make natural cold and flu-fighting remedies from elderberries for the whole family.
Elderberries for Kids
Here are 5 ways to transform elderberries into natural immune-boosting remedies for kids:
- Flu-Busting Gummy Bears – Kids won’t even know these tasty gummies are really a cold and flu remedy.
- Elderberry Marshmallows – I’m ok with “a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down” in this case. These marshmallows are sweetened with natural honey and contain gelatin, ginger, and other ingredients known to boost the immune system.
- Fizzy Elderberry Kombucha Soda – Please their palate and their gut at the same time with this healthy soda alternative!
- Elderberry Popsicles – These popsicles are the perfect choice to soothe sore throats.
- Elderberry Syrup – The classic approach. Sweeten to taste and store in the fridge to administer during flu and cold season.
Elderberry Tea for Grown-ups
Nothing against elderberry syrup, but I prefer my gelatin in my coffee and my elderberries in my tea. It’s quick, simple, and comforting when I’m feeling under the weather.
This tea has a naturally sweet flavor on its own from the elderberries, but sweeten to taste with a small amount of raw honey if desired. I like adding herbs like cinnamon and turmeric for flavor and added benefits, but these aren’t necessary either.
If the taste of elderberry isn’t your cup of tea to begin with (sorry, had to go there!), try adding an herbal tea bag like peppermint or chamomile to mellow out the flavor.
Without further ado, here’s how to make a “cuppa” elderberry tea that’s good for the body and soothing for the soul:
Immune-Boosting Elderberry Tea Recipe
This delicious immune-boosting homemade elderberry tea is made with dried elderberries, herbs, and spices.
- Put water and elderberries into a small saucepan.
- Add turmeric and cinnamon.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes. This helps bring out the beneficial properties of the elderberries.
- Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Finally, strain through a fine mesh strainer and pour into individual mugs.
- Stir in raw honey if using.
For an iced tea, pour into a mason jar and allow to cool, then refrigerate for up to 1 week. Serve over ice if desired.
Serving Size 8 oz
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Sodium 9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 6.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.4 g
Sugars 2.9 g
Protein 0.2 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Where to Get Elderberries
Elderberries are common in forests and wooded areas in parts of the U.S., but please don’t try gathering them without an expert. There are plants that resemble elderberries that are not safe to eat (or drink). The berries also must be properly dried and separated from the leaves and stems or they can cause digestive problems.
Rather than forage in the woods for my tea ingredients, I order organic dried elderberries in bulk since they are much less expensive this way. I store them in our deep freezer between uses and they last for years, especially if we — hopefully — stay healthy!
Store Bought Options
Do you use elderberries to ward off sickness? What other natural remedies do you swear by? Please share!