Red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is a plant with a history going back thousands of years. According to historians, cave dwellers from the Paleolithic age consumed the fruit for sustenance.1 During the time of Christ, the fruit was gathered in the wild in ancient Troy. As the Medieval Ages came along, red raspberry expanded into the realm of art, where it was used as pigment for paintings and manuscripts.2
The red raspberry that most Americans are familiar with today is believed to be a native North American species, although it also thrives across northern Europe to northwestern Asia.3 George Washington was a notable advocate of this fruit, growing it in his garden.4
You may know red raspberry for its distinctive flavor and color, but that's not all it has to offer. Its leaves are used to make an herbal tea with various potential therapeutic uses. In folk medicine, raspberry leaves were brewed into tea and used to help treat wounds, diarrhea and colic pain.5
Red raspberry tea is known as a uterine relaxant,6 and is believed to help make labor and delivery easier.7 But did you know that it has other benefits as well? Discover what makes red raspberry leaf tea a beneficial drink that almost anyone can enjoy.
The Various Health Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
I've written about the benefits of raspberry fruit before, which include the potential to help lower your risk of cancer and a host of inflammatory diseases. However, its leaves possess their own unique traits that make them stand out. Here are some additional benefits you should be aware of when you drink red raspberry leaf tea:
• May boost heart health — Potassium deficiency has been closely associated with high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. In a study published in the journal Hypertension, those who consumed 4,069 milligrams of potassium daily had an impressive 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared to those who only received around 1,000 milligrams per day.8
• May aid in pregnancy — According to a 1999 study, researchers noted that taking raspberry leaf may help decrease the likelihood of pre- and post-term gestation, as well as reducing the chances of an artificial rupture and the need for a caesarean section.9
However, a 2002 review published in the BJOG journal notes that only a small number of women were involved in the aforementioned study, and it is possible that adverse effects may not have been sufficiently detected. Due to its stimulant effects on the uterus, you should not ingest it during pregnancy without consulting with a physician.10
• Improves digestive function — Red raspberry leaf tea contains various antioxidants that may help manage inflammation throughout your body. In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers noted that red raspberry significantly reduced inflammation in rats affected with antigen-induced arthritis.11
• Helps fight free radicals — Raspberry fruits are known for their antioxidant properties, but did you know that the leaves have these abilities as well? A 2012 study discovered that the leaves exhibit cytotoxic and cytoprotective qualities that may help eliminate free radicals.12
• Lowers risk of blood clots — A study published in Food Chemistry indicates that raspberry leaves contain flavonoids and phenolics that have antithrombotic effects.13
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Nutrition Facts
Red raspberry leaf tea is a caffeine-free beverage.14 It's also low in calories, which may help support healthy weight management. However, it is somewhat lacking in other nutrients. With that in mind, red raspberry leaf tea is best used as a tool to help augment your antioxidant profile while you obtain essential nutrients from other foods.
How to Grow and Store Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Growing raspberry plants in your own home will be advantageous because you not only will have a clean source of tea leaves, but you can also enjoy the berries in their freshest state. To start cultivating the plants, make sure that your garden has rich, organic soil with a pH level of 5.8 to 6.5. In addition, the area must get six to eight hours of sunlight per day.15
Plant seeds in the early spring, and water the soil regularly to help prevent weeds from overpowering the raspberries once they mature. Lastly, make sure that they're not planted near other plants such as tomatoes and potatoes because they're prone to the same fungus that raspberries are susceptible to.16
Harvest the leaves during the spring before flowers emerge, choosing only those that are young, bright and green. Make sure to get a little more than what you need because the drying process shrinks them. To prepare for storage, dry the leaves by placing them in your oven on a cookie sheet. Use the lowest heat setting, checking regularly every 15 to 20 minutes until the leaves become crispy. Afterward, allow the batch to cool.17
To properly store your dried leaves, you need to grind them first. The easiest way to do this is putting them in your food processor, but you can also use a mortar and pestle. Place the leaves in an airtight container to maintain freshness.18
Making Your Own Red Raspberry Leaf Tea at Home
Making tea from red raspberry leaves is an easy way of getting its benefits, and is one of the most popular methods as well. The final product will have a flavor similar to mild green tea but without the caffeine, making it much safer for those who are sensitive to this substance. To brew the tea, simply follow this procedure:19
• 1 teaspoon of crushed red raspberry tea leaves for every ounce of water
• Filtered water, with the amount depending on your preference
1. Pour a tablespoon of red raspberry leaves for every cup of water.
2. Bring the water to a boil.
3. Steep for five minutes and enjoy.
Red raspberry leaf tea can also be enjoyed as a cold, refreshing drink for those hot summer days. Simply follow these instructions to create a different version of your red raspberry leaf tea:20
• 6 cups water
• 3 to 4 organic red raspberry leaf tea bags
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon of honey
• 1/2 cup frozen berries
1. Bring the water to a boil in a pot.
2. Remove the pot from the heat source and place the tea bags in it, then steep for 15 minutes.
3. Once the tea cools down, transfer to a large pitcher, then mix the rest of the ingredients.
4. Store in the refrigerator or pour ice cubes, then enjoy.
What You Should Know About the Side Effects of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
The side effects associated with red raspberry leaf tea are usually minor, and the drink can be enjoyed by almost anyone, including children.21 That being said, you may still experience the following issues when you drink red raspberry leaf tea:22
- Loose stools
- Increase in Braxton Hicks contractions
Should you experience these effects, stop drinking this tea or minimize your consumption. While red raspberry leaf tea is popular during pregnancy, especially when the due date is approaching, there is evidence indicating that it may not reap benefits for some expecting women. In a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, one pregnant woman with gestational diabetes developed hypoglycemia after drinking red raspberry leaf tea at 32 weeks of gestation.23
For safety reasons, always consult with a doctor when drinking red raspberry leaf tea, especially if you're pregnant, as you may not know whether it has a positive effect on you or not.
Frequently Asked Questions About Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Q: Does red raspberry leaf tea contain caffeine?
A: No, red raspberry leaf tea does not have any caffeine.24
Q: Where can you buy red raspberry leaf tea?
A: Red raspberry leaf tea can be purchased in most grocery stores and through online sellers. Remember that the most important thing you should focus on is quality. Make sure to choose organic-certified products to ensure the freshness and quality of the nutrients.