Red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is a plant from Europe, with a history going back to thousands of years ago. According to historians, cave dwellers from the Paleolithic age have been consuming the fruit for sustenance,1 and in 45 A.D., it was cultivated by the Greeks for large-scale consumption. Since then, red raspberry has spread throughout Europe, most notably Britain. The country began to popularize and improve the plant until it was exported to the United States in 1771.2
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. One prime example is its ability to help make labor and delivery easier.3 But did you know that it has other potential functions 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 before, which includes the potential to help lower your risk of cancer and a host of inflammatory diseases, but 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:4
• 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.5
• Aids in Pregnancy
Red raspberry leaf tea’s biggest claim to fame is its ability to aid in pregnancy, particularly stimulating labor and easing childbirth. It is commonly taken by childbearing women once they reach 32 weeks during their pregnancy to allow their bodies to assimilate the benefits before giving birth.
According to one 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.6
• Improves Digestive Function
Red raspberry leaf tea contains various antioxidants that may help manage inflammation in your digestive system, resulting in fewer instances of stomachaches and constipation. The beverage is also known for its muscle-relaxant properties, which may improve bowel movements and ease bloating. However, don’t drink too many cups because it can have a laxative effect.
• Boosts Fertility
Traditional uses of red raspberry leaf tea include stimulating fertility in both men and women by balancing hormone levels. Specifically for males, the tea works by detoxifying the excess estrogen that was absorbed into their bodies due to various environmental factors.7
How to Grow and Store Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Growing raspberry plants in your own home will be advantageous because not only do you 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.8
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 raspberry is susceptible to.9 Here are some tips to remember when the plant is ready for harvesting:
- 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 may shrink them.
To prepare for storage, you need to dry your leaves first. Follow these instructions:10
1. Place them in your oven in a cookie sheet.
2. Use the lowest heat setting, checking regularly every 15 to 20 minutes until the leaves become crispy.
3. Afterward, allow the batch to cool.
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 if you don’t have an appliance that can grind food. Place them in an airtight container to maintain freshness.11
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 pregnant women. To brew the tea, simply follow this procedure:12
Brewed Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
• 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.
Aside from hot tea, 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:13
Iced Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
• 6 cups of water
• 3 to 4 organic red raspberry leaf tea bags
• 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon of honey
• 1/2 cup of 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
Good news — the side effects associated with red raspberry leaf tea are usually minor, and the drink can be enjoyed by almost anyone, including children.14 That being said, you may still experience the following issues when you drink red raspberry leaf tea:15
• Loose stools
• Increase in Braxton Hicks contractions
A special case must be mentioned for those who had unusual pregnancies or delivery experiences in the past, because red raspberry leaf tea might cause them to recur. For example, if you are pregnant now and the baby is already overdue, the contractions during a normal delivery will be strong, and drinking tea can increase the intensity further. Also, if you’ve had bleeding or spotting during the second or third trimester, red raspberry leaf tea should be avoided as it can stimulate the uterus further.16
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Can Be Enjoyed by Most People, but in Moderation
Red raspberry leaf tea, be it hot or cold, can be enjoyed by almost anyone. To maximize its effectiveness, make sure to grow your own plants to avoid ingesting pesticides and other toxins that may compromise the quality of your tea. Above all, I recommend that you drink it in moderation because of its calorie and sugar content — too much of it may cause you to gain weight and develop various health problems.
Frequently Asked Questions About Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Q: How much red raspberry leaf tea should you drink to induce labor?
A: You can start by drinking one cup a day once you reach week 32 of your pregnancy.17
Q: Where can you buy red raspberry leaf tea?
A: Red raspberry leaf tea can be purchased in most grocery stores and 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.