Elderberry Tea – Nutritional Value, Health Benefits, Racipes

User Review
5 (1 vote)

Elderberry tea is made from dried, ripe elderberries. These berries are boiled in water, and then the mixture is strained to remove solids. The resulting tea has a sweet and tart taste with earthy undertones. To change the flavor, you can boil the berries with additional ingredients including cinnamon sticks.

Elderberry is the dark purple berry from the European elder tree. The berries are used to make medicine. Do not confuse elderberry with American Elder, Elderflower, or Dwarf Elder.

The benefits of elderberry tea may include boosting the immune system, cleansing the body, improving vision, speeding up the metabolism, increasing respiratory health, lowering inflammation, protecting against chronic disease, aiding the healing process, stimulating digestion, and eliminating chronic pain, among others. It might also be known to possess chemopreventive properties.

Elderberry tea may also come with a number of side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and a worsening of autoimmune conditions.

Other Name

  • Arbre de Judas,
  • Bacchae,
  • Biases de Sureau,
  • Black-Berried Alder,
  • Black Elder,
  • Black Elderberry,
  • Boor Tree, Bounty, Elder, Common Elder.
  • Elder Berry,
  • Elderberries,
  • Elderberry Fruit,
  • Ellenwood, Elkhorn,
  • European Alder,
  • European Black Elder,
  • European Black Elderberry,
  • European Elderberry,
  • European Elder Fruit,
  • European Elderberry,
  • Fruit de Sureau,
  • Grand Sureau, Hautbois,
  • Holunderbeeren,
  • Sabugeuiro-negro,
  • Sambequier,
  • Sambu, Sambuc,
  • Sambuca Sambucus,
  • Sambucus nigra,
  • Sambugo, Sauco, Saúco Europeo,
  • Schwarzer Hollander,
  • Seuillet, Semillon,
  • Sureau, Sureau Européen,
  • Sureau Noir, Sus, Suseau, Sussier.

What is Elderberry Tea?

Elderberry tea is made from the dried berries of the elder plant. Scientifically known as Sambucus cerulean, this plant might have been used for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years by the indigenous people of the Americas. They used the leaves, bark, roots, flowers, and berries of the plant. Some people also use elderflower to make tea.

Nutrition Information

You can look to ripe, whole elderberries for a better understanding of the trace elements that may be present in the tea. However, a single cup of elderberry tea has low amounts of these nutrients. In addition, the boiling process removes additional nutrients.

A single cup of ripe elderberries (not prepared as tea) contains approximately:

  • Calories: 106
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 27 grams
  • Fiber: 10 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Whole elderberries contain several vitamins and minerals. One cup of ripe elderberries is an abundant source of:

  •  Vitamin A
  •  Vitamin C
  •  Calcium
  •  Iron

Although elderberries are quite nutritious, it’s not safe to eat them raw. Instead, enjoy them in a cup of tea.

How do You Make Elderberry Tea?

Some people prefer to use elderberry syrup for making tea. But, it would be incorrect to call this tea. The actual elderberry tea is made from dried elderberries or the elderflower. We have an easy recipe that you can follow to make this tea at home. We have included spices that might help boost its antioxidant qualities. However, these are optional. You can make the tea by just simmering the berries in hot water. Although it has a sweet-tart taste, you may add a little dash of honey to sweeten it further.

Make this simple tea in minutes whenever you feel like your immune system can use a boost.

  • Combine: Add water, dried elderberries, and a cinnamon stick to a small saucepan and stir well.
  • Boil: Heat on high just until the tea starts to boil. Then, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Rest: Let the tea cool in the pot for 5 minutes.
  • Strain: Strain the tea through a fine-mesh strainer into a mug and enjoy.

Can you make this an iced tea? You sure can! If it’s a hot summer day, just boil and strain the tea, then chill it in the fridge. Serve it over ice for a refreshing beverage!

Soothing Elderberry Tea Recipe

Methods 1

Elderberry tea has the perfect balance of sweet, earthy, and slightly tart. Enjoy this soothing spicy version.
  • Course: Beverage
  • Cuisine: British
  • Keyword: elderberry tea
  • Appliance: Stove
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Servings: 3 cups


  • 6 cups water (filtered)
  • 3 tbsp elderberries (dried)
  • 4 pieces cardamom optional
  • 4 whole cloves [4]
  • 2 cinnamon sticks [5]
  • 1 fresh ginger (cut into fine pieces)
  • Honey/sugar/stevia/or any other sweetener (optional)


  • If you wish to add spices to the tea, add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, fresh ginger, and cardamom to it and continue to boil.
  • Once it reaches a boil, cover the vessel and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer 30 minutes. Once you get your desired taste and consistency, strain it in a cup and enjoy.
  • You can also refrigerate it and have it cool if you wish to do so! However, people usually prefer to have it warm.

You can use the unopened flower heads to brew this delicious tea or wait until they bloom for a milder, sweeter flavored drink. If you don’t have access to the spices or prefer your tea without them, feel free to leave them out.

Methods  2

Immune-Boosting Elderberry Tea Recipe

This delicious immune-boosting homemade elderberry tea is made with dried elderberries, herbs, and spices.


  • 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.
  • Enjoy!
You Can Also Like   Chai Tea - Nutritional Value, Health Benefits
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.

Methods 3


  • 2 tablespoons dried elderberries
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey


  • In a small saucepan, add water, dried elderberries, cinnamon stick and fresh ginger slices.
  • Bring the water to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and strain out elderberries, cinnamon stick, and ginger.
  • Remove cinnamon stick and ginger. Then using the back of a spoon, press elderberries lightly to release as much juice as possible.
  • Once the tea is not too hot, add honey. Stir to incorporate. Test and add more honey if needed. (It’s important to add raw honey when the tea is not too hot, as the high temperature will destroy some of its nutrients.)
  • Pour into individual tea cups and enjoy!

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have other health conditions, you need to consult your doctor first. Add raw honey only right before serving. Leftover tea can be cooled and stored in an airtight mason jar in the fridge for up to 5 days. Add ice to make it into elderberry ice tea.

Methods 4

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.

Health Benefits of Elderberry Tea

Elderberry tea is packed with the benefits of elderberry, which have been prized for their medicinal properties for centuries. For more details, you can read our article Elderberries: Benefits & Risks. In short, these are

  • May Provide Relief from Cold & Cough – Elderberry tea might have been traditionally advocated for bringing relief from cold, cough, and sore throat. A 2016 study on intercontinental air travelers found that people who took elderberry extract were less likely to suffer from respiratory issues than those who did not. [rx]
  • May Protect Against Flu – The bioactive compounds in elderberry tea may protect us against the flu. A study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that it may inhibit the entry and growth of the flu virus in our body. [rx]
  • May Improve Heart Health – Elderberry may have high fiber content which might help reduce excess cholesterol while retaining good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. It may contain bio compounds known as flavonoids, which are very beneficial for our heart health. [rx]
  • May Boost Immunity – Elderberry may help improve our immunity. This is why it may be often effective in dealing with a cold or fever. Animal studies have shown that it might strengthen our immune system. Emerging research suggests that it may even be effective in dealing with the HIV-1 virus. [rx]
  • May Develop Bone Health – Elderberries could improve bone health, especially in people with diabetes. Lab tests show that polyphenols found in elderberries might help in dealing with diabetic osteoporosis.
  • May Aid In Skincare – The antioxidants present in elderberries might have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which may help in dealing with skin-related issues. It might have been used as an astringent as well that helped deal with skin irritations. [rx]
  • Influenza Relief – Some research has shown that elderberries can help treat influenza and cold symptoms. Studies have shown that patients given elderberry extract commonly experience reduced duration and severity of influenza symptoms. However, there’s been no research specifically dedicated to the study of elderberry tea. 

Another study was conducted on a multi-ingredient hot drink that included both elderberry extract and Echinacea purpurea root extract. The drink also appeared to reduce the severity and duration of influenza symptoms. However, the drink was not a true tea. Both the Echinacea purpurea and elderberry were far more concentrated in this drink than in a typical tea mixture.

  • Disease Prevention – Research has found that the elderberry plant contains significant amounts of bioactive compounds — a substance that controls metabolic processes (energy that helps your body function). It’s suggested that eating compounds like the ones found in elderberries can lower your risk of chronic diseases.
  • Immune System Boost – Elderberries contain polyphenols which are a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants prevent damage to your cells that can lead to diseases. The antioxidants in elderberry have suspected benefits such as the reduced risk of tumors, boosted immune function, lower blood pressure levels, and reduced blood sugar levels.
  • High in nutrients – Elderberries are a low-calorie food packed with antioxidants. One cup (145 grams) of fresh berries contains 106 calories, 26.7 grams of carbs, and less than 1 gram each of fat and protein (rx).

Plus, they have many nutritional benefits. Elderberries are:

  • High in vitamin C. There are 52 mg of vitamin C per cup of fruit, which accounts for 57% of the daily value (rx, rx).
  • High in dietary fiber. Elderberries contain 10 grams of fiber per cup of fresh berries, about 36% of the daily value (rx].
  • A good source of phenolic acids. These compounds are potent antioxidants that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress in the body (rx, rx).
  • A good source of flavonols. Elderberry contains the antioxidant flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin. The flowers contain up to 10 times more flavonols than the berries (rx).
  • Rich in anthocyanins. These compounds give the fruit its characteristic dark black-purple color and are a strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects (rx, rx).

Elderberries are a low calorie food packed with vitamin C, dietary fiber and antioxidants in the form phenolic acids, flavonols, and anthocyanins. The flowers are particularly rich in flavonols.

  • May improve cold and flu symptoms – Black elderberry extracts and flower infusions have been shown to help reduce the severity and length of influenza (rx). Commercial preparations of elderberry for the treatment of colds come in various forms, including liquids, capsules, lozenges, and gummies. One 2004 study of 60 people with influenza found that those who took 15 mL of elderberry syrup four times per day showed symptom improvement in 2 to 4 days, while the control group took 7 to 8 days to improve (rx). Furthermore, a study of 312 air travelers taking capsules containing 300 mg of elderberry extract three times per day found that those who got sick experienced a shorter duration of illness and less severe symptoms (rx). Further large-scale studies are required to confirm these results and determine if elderberry may also play a role in preventing influenza (rx). Note that most research has only been performed on commercial products. There’s little information about the safety or efficacy of homemade remedies (rx).

Elderberry extract has been found to help reduce the length and severity of symptoms caused by the influenza virus. While these results are promising, further large-scale human studies are needed.

  • High in Multivitamin – During normal metabolism, reactive molecules may be released that can accumulate in the body. This can cause oxidative stress and may lead to diseases like type 2 diabetes and cancer (rx, rx, rx). Antioxidants are natural components of foods, including some vitamins, phenolic acids, and flavonoids, that are able to help remove these reactive molecules. Research suggests that diets high in antioxidants may help prevent chronic disease (rx, rx, rx). The flowers, fruits, and leaves of the elderberry plant are excellent sources of antioxidants. For example, one of the anthocyanins found in the berries has 3.5 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E (rx, rx, rx,  rx). One study comparing 15 different varieties of berries and another study comparing types of wine found that elderberry is one of the most effective antioxidants (rx, rx). Additionally, one study found that antioxidant status improved in people 1 hour after drinking 400 mL of elderberry juice. Another study in rats found that elderberry extract helped reduce inflammation and oxidative tissue damage (rx, rx). While elderberry has shown promising results in the lab, research in humans and animals is still limited. Generally, consuming it in the diet has only a small effect on antioxidant status (rx).

In addition, the processing of elderberries, such as extraction, heating, or juicing, can reduce their antioxidant activity (rx). Therefore, products like syrups, juices, teas, and jams may have reduced benefits compared to some results seen in laboratory studies (rx).

  • May be good for heart health – Elderberry may have positive effects on some markers of heart and blood vessel health. Studies have shown elderberry juice may reduce the level of fat in the blood and decrease cholesterol. In addition, a diet high in flavonoids like anthocyanins has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease (rx, rx). Nonetheless, one study in 34 people given 400 mg of elderberry extract (equivalent to 4 mL of juice) three times a day for 2 weeks found no significant reduction in cholesterol levels (rx). However, another study in mice with high cholesterol found that a diet including black elderberry reduced the amount of cholesterol in the liver and aorta but not the blood (rx). Further studies found that rats that were fed foods containing polyphenols extracted from elderberry had reductions in blood pressure (rx). Furthermore, elderberries may reduce levels of uric acid in the blood. Elevated uric acid is linked to increased blood pressure and negative effects on heart health (rx, rx). What’s more, elderberry can increase insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels. Given that type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for heart and vascular disease, blood sugar management is important in preventing these conditions (rx, rx).

A study found that elderberry flowers inhibit the enzyme alpha-glucosidase (α-glucosidase), which may help lower blood sugar levels. Also, research on rats with diabetes given elderberry showed improved blood sugar control (rx, rx, rx). Elderberry has some benefits for heart health, such as reducing cholesterol, uric acid, and blood sugar levels. However, further research is needed to demonstrate if these effects are significant in humans.

Other health benefits

There are many other reported benefits of elderberry, though most of these have limited scientific evidence:

  • Helps fight cancer. Both European and American elder have been found to have some cancer-inhibiting properties in test-tube studies (rx, rx, rx).
  • Fights harmful bacteria. Elderberry has been found to inhibit the growth of bacteria like Helicobacter pylori and may improve symptoms of sinusitis and bronchitis (rx).
  • May support the immune system. In rats, elderberry polyphenols were found to support immune defense by increasing the number of white blood cells (rx).
  • Could protect against UV radiation. A skin product containing elderberry extract was found to have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 9.88 (rx).
  • May increase urination. Elderberry flowers were found to increase the frequency of urination and amount of salt excretion in rats (rx).
  • May have some antidepressant properties. One study found mice fed 544 mg of elderberry extract per pound (1,200 mg per kg) had improved performance and mood markers (rx). While these results are interesting, further research is needed in humans to determine if the effects are truly significant. Moreover, it’s important to note that there is no standardized method for measuring the number of bioactive components like anthocyanins in these commercial products.

One study showed that depending on the method used to measure anthocyanins, a supplement could claim to contain 762 mg/L but really only contain 4 mg/L. Therefore, determining the effects of currently available products may be difficult (rx). Elderberry is associated with many additional health benefits, such as fighting cancer and bacteria, immune support, UV protection, and diuretic effects. However, these claims have limited evidence, and further research is needed.

  • Gum inflammation (gingivitis). Early research shows that using a mouth rinse (HM-302, Izun Pharmaceuticals, New York, NY) or mouth patches (PerioPatch, Izun Pharmaceuticals, New York, NY) containing elderberry, echinacea, and gotu kola prevents gingivitis from worsening. However, it doesn’t seem to improve symptoms.
  • High cholesterol. Early research shows that taking capsules containing dried elderberry three times daily for 2 weeks does not reduce cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
  • Cancer.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Constipation.
  • H1N1 “swine” flu.
  • Hay fever.
  • Headache.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Toothache.
  • Weightloss.
You Can Also Like   Benefits of Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Beans and Tea


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • The flu: One tablespoon (15 mL) of a specific elderberry juice-containing syrup (Sambucol by Nature’s Way) has been taken four times daily for 3-5 days. Also, a specific lozenge (ViraBLOC by HerbalScience) containing 175 mg of elderberry extract has been taken four times daily for 2 days.


  • The flu: One tablespoon (15 mL) of a specific elderberry juice-containing syrup (Sambucol by Nature’s Way) has been taken twice daily for 3 days.

Suggested Dosing


  • Adult: 15 mL (1 tablespoon) orally four times daily for 3-5 days (Sambucol, Nature’s Way)
  • Children: 15 mL (1 tablespoon) orally twice daily for 3 days


  • 175 mg orally four times daily for 2 days


  • Leaves are used for bruises, sprains, wounds, and burns

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows:

  • Elderberry daily value not established, see individual product
  • Elderberry should be started within 24-28 hours of symptom onset

Elderberry Tea Side Effects

The side effects of elderberry tea may be mainly gastrointestinal in nature, resulting in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This can be due to consuming an excessive amount or if one has a particular allergy to the elderberry plant or other members of the Sambucus genus. Consuming raw elderberries might cause cyanide poisoning. This is not a concern here as preparing the tea ensures that the berries are cooked.

However, other side effects are related to specific medical conditions or drug interactions.

  • Diabetic Problems – Given that elderberry tea may have blood sugar-lowering tendencies, hypoglycemic patients should be careful when adding elderberry tea to their diet. This could cause dangerously low blood sugar, which may result in fainting or diabetic shock. Speak to your doctor before consuming this powerful tea.
  • Autoimmune Disease – Many of the antioxidants found in elderberry tea might be excellent stimulants for the immune system, but this can exacerbate certain autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or lupus.
  • Pregnancy – A limited amount of research has been done on the effects of elderberry tea during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, but due to the wide range of powerful chemicals found in this tea, it is not recommended. 
  • Mistaken Identity – The elderberry plant may look extremely similar to water hemlock, which is a very toxic and lethal plant when ingested. Do not pick elderberry in the wild unless you are trained to know the difference, or else a mistake could cost you your life!
  • Autoimmune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Elderberry might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using elderberry.
You Can Also Like   Pineapple Tea - Nutritional Value, Health Benefits, Recipes


Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)Interaction Rating: Be cautious with this combination. Talk with your health provider.

  • Elderberry can increase the immune system. Taking elderberry along with some medications that decrease the immune system might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.
  • Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.

What Does Elderberry Tea Taste Like?

Elderberry has a unique flavor, ranging from tangy and tart to bitter or sweet, depending on when in the growing season they are picked, and which variety you are eating. European black elderberries tend to be more tart or bitter, whereas American elderberries are typically sweet, and are more popular for use in jams, desserts, and candies.

How Much Elderberry Tea Should You Drink?

Elderberry might have certain side effects. In addition, one may have an allergy to the berry. It is best to try a cup of tea and check your reaction. You can increase it to two cups if you show no adverse reaction. However, given that elderberries can also have certain side effects, we would highly recommend that you talk to a certified herbalist or doctor before taking them. Keep in mind that elderberry tea is not a medicine.

From Where To Buy

Organic Elderberry Tea - Kosher, Caffeine-Free, GMO-Free - 18 Bleach-Tea Bags
4,040 Reviews
Organic Elderberry Tea - Kosher, Caffeine-Free, GMO-Free - 18 Bleach-Tea Bags
  • Please note - Elderberry does not smell and taste like a classic berry, and in fact, some people can be put off by the smell. It does have very important medicinal benefits, however.
  • HEALTH BENEFITS – Elderberry Tea boasts many health benefits, including strengthening the immune system, and supporting upper respiratory health. It’s a great source of antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and B, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and zinc.
  • ORGANIC – Our unadulterated Elderberry Tea is crafted from organic elderberries. Packed in bleach-free tea bags, always caffeine-free, enjoy a cup of Elderberry Tea any time of day!
  • STEEPING INSTRUCTIONS – Elderberry Tea needs a good boil, and can steep up to 6 or so minutes to extract the full flavor and optimum benefits. Cover the cup while steeping, then remove the tea bag, and enjoy!
  • BUDDHA TEAS – Crafted without additives, using only organic or wild-harvested ingredients, we believe in living harmoniously with nature, not using it for profit. Our boxes are from 100% recycled material, making our teas good for the earth and you!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email