Does Tea Help a Sore Throat?

Visit your doctor if your sore throat doesn't improve.

A sore throat can make you miserable. Avoiding an unhealthy lifestyle can help minimize the incidence of sore throats, but once it happens, many times all you can do is try to alleviate the symptoms, which include difficulty swallowing, tenderness and pain. Although home remedies can't replace expert medical attention, drinking tea or other hot liquids might soothe your sore throat.


Sore throats can result from the common cold, smoking, air pollution, allergies, sickness, low humidity, bacteria or viral infection, and many other factors. If your sore throat is severe or if it lasts longer than 5 to 7 days, contact your doctor to determine if you have an infection. You should also visit your doctor if you begin to experience any other abnormal symptoms, such as joint pain, earache, rash, fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, or blood in your saliva or phlegm. If you have an infection, you might need to take medication to alleviate your symptoms and prevent them from worsening. For example, you might need to take antibiotics that will kill or impair bacteria, or least reduce your symptoms. Ask your doctor whether drinking tea will help alleviate your sore throat.


When you have a sore throat, increasing your liquid intake helps hydrate your body as well as soothe your throat. If your sore throat is accompanied by typical symptoms of the common cold, hot liquids like tea help thin sinus mucus, which will improve drainage and decrease stuffiness.


Depending on your preference, certain ingredients might improve the soothing effect of tea. For example, many people drink warm tea with honey to alleviate the symptoms and pain associated with sore throats. You might find that specific types of tea soothe your throat more than others, but if you plan to drink much tea, avoid types that have caffeine, which can dehydrate you.


Avoid any foods or drinks that worsen your symptoms. For example, coffee or acidic liquids, such as orange juice, might make you feel worse. Instead, try cold ice pops, lozenges and clear broths, all of which might help alleviate symptoms. Gargling several times a day with a solution of 1/2 cup warm water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt also might help. Finally, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, might decrease the pain.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker before leaving the house.