Eucalyptus is a tall tree native to Australia but grown all over the world. Its leaves contain a pungent oil said to provide a plethora of health benefits. It has been used for hundreds of years to bring down fevers, fight infections, and more. Eucalyptus tea is simply a tea made from these leaves, one that can potentially provide the user with some of the aforementioned health benefits.
In this guide, we will look at the health benefits of eucalyptus tea and eucalyptus oil while also advising on how it should be consumed and the side effects to lookout for.
The Health Benefits of Eucalyptus Tea
Aboriginal Australians are thought to be the first people to use eucalyptus leaves medicinally. In fact, this tree wasn’t introduced to the rest of the world until the 18th century, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that it was planted on a large scale across Europe and Asia.
Today, eucalyptus trees are mainly used to combat deforestation, as they grow quickly (some eucalyptus hybrids can grow as much as 16 feet a year) but their leaves continue to be prized for their medicinal properties.
These leaves can be purchased dried and used in everything from potpourri to tea, but the vast majority of leaves harvested every year are processed into eucalyptus oil, which is then used as an ingredient in cough sweets, fragrances, and more.
Honey can also be made from eucalyptus, creating what is basically a cheaper alternative to manuka honey. To learn more about the health benefits of eucalyptus tea and eucalyptus oil, keep reading.
1. It Can Ease Congestion
One of the most common uses of eucalyptus is in cough and congestion remedies, such as Vicks. These remedies use a highly concentrated eucalyptus oil to help loosen mucous and provide instant relief from congestion. Some have suggested this action can lead to inflammation and other issues if repeated time and time again, but when used infrequently to treat congestion associated with the occasional cold or flu, it could be one of the better natural remedies on the market.
Eucalyptus is at its most effective when inhaled, so if you’re drinking it as a tea for those purposes, then make sure you keep that hot cup close and breathe in as much of that aromatic steam as you can.
2. It Can Relieve Sinusitis
A 2009 study found that eucalyptus (or, rather, a key compound found in eucalyptus) could be used to provide relief for people suffering from sinusitis, a condition characterised by a swelling of the sinus and one that can result from repeat infections. (1) They concluded that it could be used to provide fast relief without any adverse reactions, after which the patient could be treated with antibiotics.
3. It Can Soothe Coughs
In addition to loosening mucous and easing the symptoms of sinusitis, eucalyptus may also alleviate chronic coughs. This is especially true for coughs that result from a build-up of mucous, as that mucous loosens and is expelled more readily, but it has also been recommend as a potential alternative therapy for asthma.
It’s worth noting, however, that the relief provided is minimal at best and will not cover all causes or conditions, nor is it a viable replacement for medications prescribed to treat serious and chronic lung disorders. Still, considering how safe and widely tolerated eucalyptus tea is, and how easy it is to consume the occasional cup, it’s something that could be worth trying and may provide some relief.
4. It is Antibacterial and Antimicrobial
The compounds responsible for providing relief from colds and other infections can also fight against infections in the air, on surfaces, and on the body. It is a natural antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial, which is why eucalyptus oil is used in products made for the home and for industrial use.
It is also recommended as a natural treatment for acne and other skin conditions, although in such cases it needs to be applied directly (in a heavily diluted form, as pure eucalyptus oil is a potent irritant) and drinking it as a tea won’t provide the same benefits.
5. It May Help Regulate Blood Sugar
Some think eucalyptus can play a role in reducing blood sugar, although the exact method of action isn’t well known, but it’s not as effective as other herbal remedies, and it’s by no means an effective alternative to prescription medications. Still, it warrants further research and could lead to some exciting developments in the future.
Side Effects of Eucalyptus Tea
Eucalyptus is widely tolerated, but as with everything, moderation is best. Overconsumption can cause adverse reactions, and it’s also possible to be allergic to this plant.
You should also stay clear of eucalyptus tea if you have (or have had) gastric ulcers and any liver/kidney issues. It may also cause problems for anyone with chronic acid reflux and may trigger a bout of reflux following consumption.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also avoid eucalyptus, as there simply isn’t enough existing evidence to suggest that it is safe in such situations.
This is true for most herbal teas (even red raspberry leaf tea, which seems to be consumed mainly by pregnant women), as there hasn’t been a great deal of research on the subject.
How to Make Eucalyptus Tea
Eucalyptus leaves are very large, so much so that some recipes call for the use of a single leaf or even a fraction of a leaf. But this is simply not practical due to the potential size differences, and the best way to prepare your eucalyptus tea from dried leaves is to chop them up and measure using teaspoons.
You don’t need a lot to make a cup of eucalyptus tea—half a teaspoon of the dried leaf should suffice. Simply add this to boiling water, steep for at least 5 minutes, and then sweeten with honey or sugar. It’s a strong tea that has a powerful kick, so that sweetener can make a big difference, but it’s not a foul-tasting tea like valerian, so sweeteners are not essential.
As with all herbal teas, you can pair eucalyptus tea with whatever else you have on hand. We find that spearmint tea works really well when paired, as it has a light menthol flavour that really complements the eucalyptus. You could also try a smaller amount of peppermint leaves if you don’t have spearmint leaves on hand.
Heavy spices like turmeric and ginger don’t work as well, but you can experiment with some fragrant flowers like globe amaranth if you don’t have any other menthol teas on hand.