Sage may be commonly used as a stuffing for Thanksgiving turkey nowadays, but it’s actually more than just a simple culinary herb, as it’s also been used to help improve a variety of health issues. The earliest record of its medicinal use can be traced back thousands of years ago, when ancient Egyptians used it as an herbal remedy for fertility problems.
The Greek physician Dioscorides also noted its benefit as a tea for cough, sore throat and hoarseness.1 The Greeks are not the only ones who enjoyed sage tea, though, since this herbal infusion was also highly valued in France and China.2 Read on to learn why sage tea is such a treasured beverage and how you can enjoy it at home.
What Is Sage Tea?
Also known as the “thinker’s tea” because of its ability to help enhance mental clarity and concentration,3,4 sage tea is an herbal infusion made from the fresh or dried gray-green leaves of the sage herb. Sage is a perennial plant that’s native to the Mediterranean regions, and it has long been regarded as one of the most important medicinal herbs.5
During the medieval period, sage was even called “salvia salvatrix,” which means “sage, the savior,” because it’s one of the key ingredients of a concoction that can help prevent the deadly bubonic plague.6 Drinking the infusion of this plant is one of the best ways to obtain some of its nutrients such as:7
The phenolic flavonoids apigenin, luteolin and diosmetin, which are known for their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,8,9,10 are also found in sage tea.11 This herbal infusion can provide you with rosmarinic acid as well,12 which is a polyphenolic compound with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties.13,14
The flavor of sage tea may not be as desirable as its nutritional value and medicinal properties, though, since it tends to taste very bitter. Many people find its flavor off-putting, which is why it’s usually combined with other teas and herbs to mask the astringent taste.15
Uses and Benefits of Sage Tea
Aside from providing relief to common ailments like cough and sore throat, sage tea may also be used to:16,17
Help detoxify the body — Sage tea may help flush out more toxins from the body through urination, since it’s a natural diuretic. According to Organic Facts, it acts as a stimulant for the kidneys and liver.18 A 2005 study found that mice subjects showed improved liver antioxidant potential after being given sage tea.19
Help ease menopausal symptoms — Sage is one of the most common natural remedies used to help alleviate menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes.20
According to a 2011 study published in the Advances in Therapy journal, taking fresh sage preparation for eight weeks may reduce the incidence of hot flashes in menopausal women by up to 64 percent.21
Help relieve anxiety — Sage tea may help calm chronic nervousness or anxiety, as it has a relaxant effect.22
Help improve digestion — The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of sage tea may help soothe the digestive tract and relieve gastrointestinal problems, such as upset stomach, abdominal pain and constipation.23,24
Help combat the effects of free radicals — Sage is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants, which may help protect the body against oxidative stress.25
It may also help fight against the diseases caused by free radicals, including diabetes, cancer and weakened immune system.26
Help regulate blood glucose levels — A study published in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine shows that sage extract may help lower the fasting blood glucose levels of patients with Type 2 diabetes.27
Help reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease — Research shows that sage extract may help improve the cognitive function and possibly reduce the agitation of people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.28
Help reduce high cholesterol levels — Research shows that sage extract may help reduce the amount of triglyceride and bad cholesterols in your body while increasing your good cholesterol levels.29
You can also benefit from sage tea even without consuming it. Leftover sage tea can be used as a hair rinse to help remove chemical buildup and fight hair loss, or may be gargled to help alleviate canker sores.30,31
Caffeine Content of Sage Tea
Like most herbal teas, sage tea is naturally caffeine-free.32 Don’t be afraid to try this beverage if you’re caffeine-sensitive, since you can enjoy it anytime of the day without putting yourself at risk of caffeine-related side effects, like nervousness and sleeping issues.
How to Make a Soothing Cup of Sage Tea at Home
It’s absolutely easy to make a cup of basic sage tea. Follow these steps from Genius Kitchen:33
- Bring the water to a boil, remove it from the heat and then put the sage leaves in the water.
- Let the tea steep for three to five minutes.
- Strain the leaves before pouring the tea into a cup. Add lemon and honey, if desired.
How to Store Sage Tea Properly
The proper way to store sage tea depends on the type of leaves that you’re using. If you’re using fresh sage, then make sure that you refrigerate the leaves to prolong their shelf life. Wrap the leaves in paper towels and put them inside a glass container before placing them in the fridge. Fresh leaves may last between four and five days.
If you prefer dried sage leaves, put them in a glass container and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Make sure that you brew the dried leaves within six months to get the best flavor.34
Common Side Effects of Sage Tea
Sage tea may cause side effects if consumed in excessive amounts because it contains thujone and camphor. Some of the common side effects associated with this drink include:35
- Liver problems
- Damage to the nervous system
You should avoid taking sage tea if you’re pregnant, since it may induce your menstrual period and cause miscarriage. It may also reduce the milk supply of breastfeeding women. If you have a hormone-sensitive illness, such as breast cancer or endometriosis, do not drink sage tea, since it has an estrogen-like effect on the body, which may worsen your condition.36
Take It Easy on the Sage Tea
You may be tempted to drink lots of sage tea to get more of its health benefits, but doing this won’t really do you any good. As mentioned above, sage tea contains chemicals, particularly thujone and camphor, which may be harmful to your health if consumed in high amounts.
According to a 2011 study published in Chemistry Central Journal, it’s safe to consume three to six cups of sage tea daily without reaching toxicological thresholds.37
Keep in mind, though, that the levels of thujone and camphor in your tea may vary depending on the manufacturing process and brewing method, so it’s best to start with 1 cup of sage tea per day before gradually increasing your consumption.38
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Sage Tea
Q: What is sage tea good for?
A: Sage tea has been traditionally used to help relieve common ailments including sore throat, cough, common cold and digestive problems. It may also help alleviate menopausal symptoms, improve the digestive process, reduce anxiety, fight off free radicals, improve cognitive function, and regulate blood glucose and blood pressure levels, among others.39,40,41
Q: Where can you buy sage tea?
A: Sage tea is widely available in groceries and health food stores.42