Herbal teas claim to do more than keep us hydrated — boosting immunity, detoxing our liver and even helping us sleep.
But are these claims valid? We asked NHS dietitian Noor Al-Refae to critique five of these ‘healthy’ teas. Then we gave them an overall score for taste, effectiveness and price.
TETLEY LEMON AND HONEY SUPER GREEN TEA IMMUNE WITH VITAMIN C
£1.40 for 20 tea bags, available in large supermarkets
One cup supposedly provides 14.1mg of vitamin C, or 17.6 per cent of your recommended daily allowance (RDA); thought to top up the immune system.
Vitamin C is well known for its important role in supporting and building a healthy immune system — and one cup of this contains a useful amount.
This offers an effortless way to get an important antioxidant, but it should not be a substitute for vitamin C-containing foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, as they provide other important vitamins, minerals and fibre too.
Like a very weak cup of honey and lemon-flavoured flu remedy. 5/5
CLIPPER ORGANIC SLEEP EASY INFUSION
£1.35 for 20 bags, large supermarkets and health food stores
This tea contains a selection of herbal ingredients (cinnamon, chamomile, rooibos and lemon balm) that apparently help maintain healthy sleep.
Research is not conclusive on whether herbs improve sleep. Although drinking this might help you relax, you might need other methods to beat insomnia.
Powerful cinnamon and citrus flavour. 2/5
STIR DAILY CULTURES BREAKFAST TEA WITH PROBIOTICS
£4.60 for 14 bags, sainsburys.co.uk
Each serving contains one billion friendly bacteria, including Ganeden BC30, said to be ten times more effective than some dairy cultures in yoghurt.
I love the idea of probiotics in tea.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that have been shown to have many positive effects on health, such as improving digestive symptoms for irritable bowel syndrome patients and strengthening the immune system.
This is a clever way to take probiotics and there is some research to suggest Ganeden BC30 is useful.
There are no reported downsides from taking this particular strain of probiotic, and it appears to be robust enough to withstand hot water and stomach acid and get to the gut.
Like regular breakfast tea. 5/5
DR STUART LIVER DETOX
£2.35 for 15 bags, from Holland Barrett
This tea contains dandelion root, centaury herb and milk thistle, said to support liver function and help if you have overindulged.
Using the word ‘detox’ is little more than a marketing strategy — none of the ingredients in this tea have been scientifically proven to ‘detox’ a damaged liver.
The liver is damaged from short periods of binge drinking and chronic excessive drinking. It is also damaged from having a bad diet.
If you want to look after your liver, then you need to keep your alcohol intake within recommendations, maintain a healthy weight and eat well — this tea won’t protect your liver from any damage.
A cup of this tea could help to rehydrate you after a heavy night however — but water or milk would do the same.
Refreshing, minty and uplifting.