A natural immune booster used for centuries, elderberries are easy to turn into a homemade tea. Today we’re looking at elderberry benefits and how to make elderberry tea, whether you’re looking for a natural cold, cough, and flu remedy or immune system support. This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission when you shop through them. 

A cup of elderberry tea next to a teapot. Text overlay reads "elderberry tea for natural immune system support."

Elderberry, harvested from the Sambucus elder tree, has been used as a natural remedy for hundreds of years. 

Elderberries can be used like other berries, to make jam, pies, and more – I’d love to try making Chia Jam with it. The simplest way to use elderberry at home as an immune booster or cold and flu remedy is to brew it as a tea. 

Elderberry Tea Benefits

Elderberry supplements are most commonly used for cold and flu symptoms. Does it really work? One study found that participants who used elderberry recovered from flu-like symptoms 4 days earlier than those who took the placebo. 

Though larger scale studies are needed, my family has used samubcas to fight colds for years and we do feel it shortens the length of common colds. Though sambucas supplements are easy to find in many grocery stores in the form of gummies, syrups, and lozenges, it’s easy to make your own at home.

Elderberries contain flavonoids, which may help reduce inflammation and boost immune system. 

Aside from elderberries, a hot cup of tea with lemon and honey has long been a go-to to soothe sore throats and coughs, and ease congestion. Manuka honey is considered especially healing. 



A jar of dried elderberries for making elderberry syrup or elderberry tea.

Where to Buy Elderberry

Fresh elderberries are in season in the late spring, and you may be able to find them at your local farmers market, depending where you live. Elderberries are easiest to find dried or frozen, however. 

Many natural foods stores sell dried elderberries with bulk herbs and spices. You can also find them on Amazon

A saucepan of homemade elderberry tea is poured through a strainer in a teapot.

How to Make Elderberry Tea

While most homemade teas I make don’t need to be simmered on the stove and are simply steeped with boiling water, elderberries do need to cook a bit. 

Homemade elderberry tea is so easy! Simply simmer water and dried, fresh, or frozen berries until the water turns deep purple. You can keep it simple or add some sweetener, spices, and/or lemon. 

Elderberry tea works well hot, and is especially soothing with lemon and honey when you have a sore throat or cough. However, you can also enjoy it iced. 

Flavor Variations 

Though you only need two ingredients to make elderberry tea (berries and water), it’s tastier with some acid, sweetness, or spice. Elderberries aren’t very flavorful, so here are some ways to make a more flavorful elderberry tea. 

  • Cinnamon: Simmer a cinnamon stick in with the water and berries. 
  • Lemon and honey: Stir in fresh lemon juice and honey to taste. 
  • Orange: Simmer a piece of orange peel with the water and berries. Squeeze fresh orange just before drinking. 
  • Ginger: Simmer a couple slices of ginger with the water and berries. 

Homemade elderberry tea pours from a teapot into a teacup. This homemade elderberry tea is a natural remedy for cough, cold, and flu.

Are Elderberries Safe to Eat? 

  • Toxicity. While elderberries are generally considered safe to consume, they do need to be cooked first. Fresh, uncooked elderberries are toxic and may cause nausea. Elderberry is not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 
  • Side Effects. Elderberry supplements are considered safe when used for up to five days. Long term use has not been studied. 
  • Interactions. If you take any other medications or supplements regularly, you should check with your doctor, as elderberry could interact with chemotherapy and other drugs. 
  • Efficacy. While there are elderberry tea benefits, don’t rely on it alone to prevent or treat serious illnesses such as the flu or COVID-19. 

More Healthy Tea Recipes You’ll Love

I hope you enjoyed learning about elderberry tea, its benefits, and how to make it. Please keep in mind that this post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. 

Yield: 3 cups

Elderberry Tea

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes

Homemade elderberry tea is easy to make with just two ingredients: dried elderberries and water! From there you can flavor it as you'd like. Elderberry tea may help boost your immune system and has been a natural cold and flu remedy for centuries.

A teapot pours homemade elderberry tea into a teacup.


  • 2 tablespoons dried elderberries
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 lemon or orange
  • honey to taste*


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water and elderberries. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Water and dried elderberries in a saucepan.
  2. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tea has reached a deep color. Elderberry tea simmers on the stove.
  3. Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve set over a tea cup, or into a teapot. Discard the elderberry solids, or save to reuse for more tea. Homemade elderberry tea is strained into a teapot.
  4. Sweeten your elderberry tea with honey, agave, or stevia to taste. Add a squeeze of lemon or orange juice for more flavor.


*Agave or organic liquid stevia would be good vegan options to replace honey. For allergies, use a local honey. For immune support, cold/flu try manuka honey.

Other flavor additions: slice of fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick, orange peel, 2 cloves, or 1 star anise can be simmered in along with the elderberries and water.

Leftover elderberry tea can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Enjoy your elderberry tea hot or iced.

If using fresh or frozen elderberries, double the amount of berries to 4 tablespoons.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 44Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 2gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.