January is all about new starts and new beginnings, and for many, that includes health. So this January, I’m focusing on healthy food and drink, starting with elderberry tea. It’s cold and flu season, the time when everyone around you is sick with something. When you can’t avoid contact (as much as you wish you could), you can give your immune system a boost and fight off cold and flu with this sweet, warm, comforting elderberry tea!
My husband and I both caught a cold right around Christmas/New Years, but thankfully we have a cold-and-flu-fighting regiment we break out whenever we feel like we’re coming down with something. We: double our probiotic and prebiotic intake (studies have shown that boosting your gut health helps boost your immune system) with probiotic supplements, kombucha, kefir, and fiber-rich foods; we take zinc lozenges and up our vitamin C intake; and we drink our elderberry tea.
This combination really helps us fight whatever’s coming our way. Sometimes we can avoid them altogether, but it also helps cut the time we’re sick in half (please read disclaimer below). It’s kind of amazing. My favorite part is the elderberry tea, thought, and that’s why I’m sharing the recipe with you today!
Elderberries come from the Elder Tree, a small tree that is native to Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. The tree can also be found in the United States. The distinctive round berries grow in clumps and turn from green to red to black when they are ripe.
The berries are used for both culinary purpose and in healing remedies. St. Germain is an elderberry liquor, and I’ve seen elderberry syrup used in place of maple syrup. It’s not something I actually knew much about until I took a class in London. There’s a healthy take-out kind of restaurant called Pret a Manger there (it’s since moved into the US) that my friend and I would go to all the time we loved it so much. They had an elderberry soda there that was so good I still get cravings for it.
So when I found out about elderberry’s effects on the immune system, I was all for it! The berries have been used for centuries for healing various ailments. Modern studies have found that elderberry may have an effect on the duration of colds and even may be able to kill the flu virus (the operative word being “may”. No studies have found definitive proof. Again, read my disclaimer below)!
Where to Find Elderberry Syrup
You can find elderberry in both lozenge form (like Sambucol®) and in syrup form at most health food stores and grocery stores like Whole Foods. The syrup we use is from Norm’s Farms because it’s made of just elderberry and water. I used to be able to order it from Amazon, but for some reason I can’t anymore.
I also understand that it’s not exactly easy or cost effective to order the bottles online. It’s just my preference, and there are plenty of good alternatives at stores you can reach by car or bus or taxi or foot.
I also haven’t tried making my own because 1) I’d have no idea where to get elderberries, and 2) the berries are toxic before you cook them and I just don’t feel like playing around with toxic berries myself.
So, I’ll admit now that it’s not really a tea because there are no tea leaves involved. I supposed it’s more of a tincture? I’m not entirely sure where you can categorize this. But, on to the recipe:
- • 1 tsp. elderberry syrup
- • 2 tsp. honey
- • 8 oz. hot water
- Bring water to almost a boil (bubbling around the edges and ripples across the surface) because I don’t like my water intensely hot, but again, it’s up to you.
- Add one teaspoons of elderberry syrup to an empty mug.
- Add a teaspoon of honey to the mug, or to taste (usually a teaspoon or two, but you can always add more).
- Pour the water over the elderberry and honey, stir, and enjoy!
That’s it! It’s warm, comforting, and it always makes me feel better.
Disclaimer: I am not in any way a health or wellness professional and none of my advice should be construed as medical advice. All I can say is I do a lot of research on health and wellness for various reasons. I’ve also found what works for my family and for me personally. This may or may not work for you, and I would always consult a health professional about taking anything new or adding anything to your diet. I can in no way tell you of any possible health risks, complications, or interactions something new may cause. I would also consult any and all dosing instructions on the bottle.
I also can’t guarantee this will make you better or 100% work the way I say it does. Everyone is different and, again, I’m not a health professional. I just know what works for me.
I hope your New Year is off to a happy, healthy start and continues to be so!
‘Till next time!