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’ll do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen! I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for this natural remedy.
Health Benefits of Elderberry Tea
Black elderberries (technically 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. Here’s how to make it.
How to Make Elderberry Tea
Nothing against elderberry syrup, but I prefer my gelatin in coffee and my elderberries in 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 turmeric and cinnamon for added benefits and flavor, 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
- 16 oz filtered water (here is the water filter we use)
- 2 TBSP dried elderberries
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp raw honey (optional)
- 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.
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!
If illness strikes without dried elderberries on hand, some stores carry good natural brands of elderberry tea like this one as well as ready-made elderberry syrup.
Do you use elderberries to ward off sickness? What other natural remedies do you swear by? Please share!
Discussion (85 Comments)
they were frozen fresh…should i not use them?
I have always used fresh or fresh frozen for my tinctures but I know some have concerns over raw elderberry causing nausea.
I was wondering did i do wrong by freezing my Elderberries…what should i do with them?
Katie - Wellness Mama
As long as they were dried first, they can be frozen to preserve them longer.
What about if you have the fresh berries? is the recipe the same?
Katie - Wellness Mama
I’ve never used fresh berries due to some safety concerns so I’m not sure…
Katie, Sorry to bother with a question, but if/ when you have time is it ok for me to drink this at 15 weeks pregnant. We’ve already been sick several times this fall with week long illnesses and this sounds like it would be really helpful.
Katie - Wellness Mama
I’d ask a doc or midwife since there is some controversy about it during pregnancy. Hope you guys recover quickly and avoid any future illnesses!
Can you use elderberry powder for this recipe OR in just a regular tincture? I’m having trouble finding info online on how to use elderberry POWDER. 🙂
I bought a bag last year and since then its been in and out of the freezer. How can I tell if its still ok to use?
I buy organic elderberry tea and at first sign of a scratchy throat in one family member, we all drink it. If taken early enough, it can stop the progession of a cold and prevent its spread. I’ve seen this firsthand in my house for two years since I’ve been using it. Thank you, Katie, for your newsletter.
How long can you store the final made syrup in the fridge? Can you freeze it? I bought some dried elderberries a month ago and have them stored in a tight container in the cabinet, how much longer will they last? Thanks 🙂
I keep my dried berries i buy in the cabnit too for months, that’s where they are in the store. The ones I dry I keep in the freezer, since I’m not sure of the moisture level.
I have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Chemotherapy 4 years ago left me “immuno-comprimised, NOT “auto immune”. I have been following the strict AIP Paleo diet and I needed to know if adding “immune boosting” foods to my diet would hurt or help me?
My B Cells, (in other words, my immune system), take bad instruction from my damaged DNA and attack my skin. So my question is: Will boosting my immune system prompt more skin attacks or help my immune system heal??? I am confused and at a loss.
I realize you are not a medical professional, and I don’t mean to burden you, but if you could shed some light, it would be more than helpful?!
Thanks so much!
Katie - Wellness Mama
I avoided immune boosting foods in my early recovery for this reason and I’d definitely check with a doc, but it might not be the best for your system at this point.
Thanks so much Katie for your honesty, it helped a lot. I will check with my oncologist today. 🙂
My daughter has an auto immune disease, though I know yours is not, I always hesitate to give her immune boosting anything. I always look for anti inflammatory. I followed this elderberry recipe but substituted frozen blueberries for the elderberries. I didn’t strain the blueberries but blended all the ingredients. She is a college student and says when she drinks this blueberry blend she feels better. Just a thought. It also lasts in the frig. We have also turned to essential oils. I get them from Mountain Rose Herbs, Young Living and Native American Nutritionals as each company offers different mixes for certain ailments. I have picked up a lymph detox from Native Americans. The reviews are very interesting. Again just spreading some options.
I made my first elder berry/echinacea syrup the other night. Tastes yummy! Can’t wait to make some tea!
Just FYI, (I just found this out myself), that echinacea must be given a ‘breather’ after taking for 7 days, or it will loose all the effectiveness you have just gotten from taking it! So, after taking anything echinacea for 7 days, stop for at least 5 days before taking again.
I was going to make elderberry/echinacea syrup, but now will leave the echinacea out just for this reason, since I plan to take the syrup daily during the fall and winter.
But the echinacea won’t harm you, will it? I want to keep taking the syrup for the elderberries, plus I’ve been using it as a sweetener/added flavor in my tea. Thanks for the FYI.