Immune-boosting tea brews and tinctures for cold and flu season

Immune-boosting tea brews and tinctures for cold and flu season

Give your system a fighting chance this cold and flu season with these immune-boosting tinctures, by herbalist Erin Lovell Verinder.

The coronavirus pandemic might be slowly settling, but cold and flu season has just started. To safeguard yourself and your family from nasty viruses, here are some immune boosting herbal tea recipes – plus tips and tricks on how to make the perfect blend.

While summer calls for sugary bubble teas and iced teas, in winter you can enjoy the warm infusion of various herbal tea combinations.

Happy brewing!

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A guide to brewing medicinal plants

Herbal teas

Pour boiling water over the dried or fresh herbs and steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Strain out the plant material with a fine-mesh sieve and enjoy.


Add the plant material to a heatproof mason jar, fill with boiling water and infuse for three to four hours minimum, or leave overnight to deepen the strength. Simply strain out the herbs with a fine-mesh sieve and sip throughout the day. Infusions make a perfect iced tea; however, if you desire a little warmth, you can gently heat on the stove.

Measuring the medicinals

The recipes ahead are measured in parts. For instance, if the recipe calls for one part peppermint, this may equal one cup, one tbs or one tsp of peppermint. For a medium pot of tea, use a base of two cups of water for a regular-strength herbal brew in all of the following recipes.

Bronchial buster

A potent mix for the sinuses, persistent coughs, bacterial infections and asthma. These common kitchen herbs have strong antiviral, antibacterial and warming properties. Lighten the flavour with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or some raw honey.

Tip: Best prepared as a tea


  • 2 parts thyme
  • 2 parts oregano
  • 2 parts rosemary
  • 1 part cinnamon chips

Bye-bye flu

This power-packed combination of immune tonics and lymphatic-loving herbals works to shift an active flu and support an overburdened immune system. Brew strongly and be sure to sip frequently to alleviate symptoms.

Tip: Best prepared as a tea or infusion


  • 3 parts cleavers leaf/stem/flowers
  • 2 parts calendula flowers
  • 2 parts echinacea root/leaf/flowers
  • 2 parts elderflowers
  • 1 part cinnamon chips
  • 1 part elderberries
  • 1 part orange peel, fresh or dried
  • ½ part lemon balm


This is a beautifully supportive tea, high in immune-enhancing herbs and Vitamin C. It can be drunk daily to fortify immunity, or to combat the common cold. I like to add a touch of manuka honey when the tea cools to supercharge the immune-enhancing effects.

Tip: Best prepared as a tea or infusion


  • 2 parts elderberries
  • 2 parts echinacea root/flowers/leaf
  • 1 part rosehips
  • ½ part ginger pieces
  • ½ part cinnamon chips
  • Manuka honey (optional)

Deep breath

The demulcent actions of the herbs in this blend work together to combat a hoarse, sore throat and soothe relentless coughs, supporting the lungs and gently sedating any upper-respiratory irritation or spasms. As this brew cools, add an optional dollop of medicinal manuka honey.

Tip: Best prepared as a tea or infusion


  • 3 parts mullein leaf
  • 1 part sage
  • 1 part thyme
  • ½ part licorice root
  • Manuka honey (optional)

This is an edited extract from Plants for the People by Erin Lovell Verinder (Thames and Hudson), $39.99. Photography by Georgia Blackie.

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