Elderberry Tea


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Elderberry tea is a warm and soothing drink that helps ward off colds and flu. These inky purple berries from the Sambucus tree are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and immune-boosting compounds.

Elderberry tea in a glass next to dried elderberry and cinnamon sticks.

You’ve likely heard of elderberry before. It’s the immune-boosting fruit that’s used in many over-the-counter cold and flu treatments, like cold capsules, lozenges, and syrups. And while those items do contain the benefits of elderberry, they also contain tons of sugar, thickeners, and other ingredients that you may want to avoid, especially when you’re sick.

So today I’m bringing you a simple recipe to enjoy the all benefits of elderberry, without any of those negatives – elderberry tea! It’s just 3-ingredients, easy to make, and you can get your health benefits directly from the source by making this oh-so-easy and healthy tea.

Health Benefits of Elderberries

Elderberries contain antioxidants that shore up the immune system, and have been used for hundreds of years to fight colds and respiratory infections. They’re high in flavanoids, vitamin A, vitamin c, and dietary fiber, and can help reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. Many of those benefits are thanks to the anthocyanin, which gives the berries their deep purple color.

Where Can you Find Elderberry?

When shopping for dried elderberries, check out the cold remedy section of your local health food or gourmet grocery stores. If they don’t carry them, you can always order online from Amazon (that’s where I get mine).

A small bowl of dried elderberries, next to cinnamon sticks.

3-Ingredient Elderberry Tea

Yes, there’s just three ingredients in this recipe – water, dried elderberries and a cinnamon stick. But you can also tweak it and have fun with it!

How to Customize Your Tea

Elderberry tea is mild in flavor so feel free experimenting with juices, herbs, and spices to flavor it to your liking. Sometimes I’ll boil ginger, turmeric, lemon, or even orange slices with the elderberry to give it a spicier or more fruity flavor.

You can also swap some of the water with unsweetened cherry juice for an additional shot of antioxidants, and up the cinnamon to help regulate blood sugar levels. If I happen to have some dried hibiscus flowers, I’ll toss a few into the tea to deepen the ruby red color, and they may help lower blood pressure. If you like your tea with a touch of sweetness, try adding raw honey or maple syrup.

Elderberry tea in a glass next to dried elderberries and cinnamon.

How to Make Elderberry Tea

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!

More Healthy Drink Recipes

If you’re looking to boost your immune system, you can’t go wrong with any of these options!

Easy Elderberry Tea

4.91 from 11 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 1 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Elderberry tea is an immune-boosting tea that helps to ward off colds and flu. If you need a little boost, sip this easy-to-make tea all winter long. Watch how I make it in the video below!




  • Combine all ingredients in a small pot. You'll notice the berries instantly start releasing their color.
    Dried elderberries, water and a cinnamon stick in a pot.
  • Heat the pot over high heat. When the tea just starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Once the tea is finished simmering, turn off the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.
    Elderberry tea in a pot, resting.
  • Strain the tea through a fine-mesh strainer into a glass and enjoy!
    Straining the elderberry tea into a drinking glass.

Lisa’s Tips

  • This is the brand of organic dried elderberries I buy. And it’s usually enough to last the entire cold and flu season!
  • The elderberry tea gets deeper and darker in color the longer you boil it.


Calories: 30kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 26mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 177IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: elderberry tea, elderberry tea recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I’ve seen elsewhere that elderberries are poisonous unless cooked for 1 hour? I tried the recipe and added a little honey for sweetness.4 stars

    1. Hi Hannah – that’s not accurate. Elderberries are fine for consumption as long as they’ve been boiled for at least 15 minutes. And the stems, leaves, and roots are actually more potent. So as long as you’re boiling just the berries themselves, you should be just fine. :)

  2. I have an elderberry tree, can I use fresh berries? How much of the fresh is equivalent to your dried?5 stars

  3. So thrilled to finally have found an organic dried elderberry supplier at a local farmer’s market. Should I have any concerns about pot and/or surface berry staining?

  4. How often should you drink this to boost immunity? Im just getting over pneumonia and want my immunity to stay strong afterwards. 

    1. Everybody’s body is different, but you could always start off with a few days out of the week to see how that affects you.

  5. I made the Elderberry tea and loved it. However, I did add some local honey for a little sweet. :) I’m not totally off sugar yet but working on it.5 stars

  6. I love this tea and make it all the time.
    I add in slivered ginger and turmeric. I add the juice a lemon after its finished simmering and a tablespoons of maple syrup.
    I let it sit on the stovetop with no heat for a few more hours to make it even stronger.
    It’s also delicious cold.

  7. Amazing results fast. I usually make elderberry syrup for my family, but didn’t use it on me. Got sick this year despite everything I always do for immunity. I found your recipe and made it. Feel almost 100% in 24 hours. Thank you so much.5 stars

  8. I am making loose leaf tea for a friend who is under the weather, can I use this recipe to make in a tea bag or is it meant to be boiled? Thank you for sharing this recipe and some tips for customization! 

    1. Can I make a big batch and drink throughout the week? I have 2 homes I travel back and forth for work and don’t have time to make.

    2. I lightly grind mine and then put them in loose leaf tea bags I ordered from Amazon. You can get 300 bags for about $10, and it works perfectly

  9. Thanks. This is such an informative post. Love that this drink is so healthy and has all the medicinal properties. Need to definitely try this healthy drink.5 stars

  10. Oooooh – I love this idea (especially as we’re heading into cold and flu season soon)! It sounds so comforting but also healthy, and I was really excited about some of your suggestions for customizing this tea – particularly the ideas of using unsweetened cherry juice for a boost of antioxidants, and using a little warm, homey cinnamon. Definitely pinning this for the winter to come!5 stars

  11. I’ll have to try this next time we’re starting to feel a bit under the weather. We make elderberry syrup but I’ve never tried elderberry tea.5 stars