Linden tea is an herbal beverage produced from the dried leaves and flowers of the linden tree. Known as “tilia” to the Greeks and “lime tree” to the British, this deciduous tree species can grow up to 40 meters in length, which means a single tree can produce an abundant herbal harvest.
The linden tree is also prized for its timber, known as “basswood”. This wood was once used by Viking tribes to make shields that were lightweight and durable (1), and these days it is popular with luthiers who use it to craft lightweight guitars.
It’s a versatile tree that has a lot to offer, but quality guitars and Viking shields aside, it’s as a herbal tea where linden truly shines.
What is Linden Tea?
Linden tea is a hot drink made from the flowers and/or leaves of the linden tree. In times gone by, the bark and sap was also used, but it’s very rare that you will find these added to tilia tea blends today.
There are several different varieties of linden, each producing leaves with their own unique concentration of beneficial compounds. It’s not too dissimilar to sideritis in that these plants all differ slightly and all have their own unique taste and fragrance, but they all produce the same health benefits often associated with this tea.
Speaking of which, let’s see just what claims are being made with regards to the health benefits of this herbal tea.
Benefits of Linden Tea
There are a number of supposed benefits to consuming linden tea. More studies need to be done before any concrete claims can be made, but the studies that do exist are very positive. There is also plenty anecdotal evidence to go around because linden tea is a favourite with many herbalists and followers of alternative medicine.
It has been consumed as a cure-all for hundreds of years, prized for its apparent ability to reduce congestion, suppress coughs, and alleviate the symptoms of cold and flu, benefits that stem from its antimicrobial compounds (2).
It is also commonly consumed for its anti-anxiety properties, both as a mild sedative to help with insomnia and as a day-time drink to alleviate stress and anxiety. It is also said to assist in reducing stomach acid and intestinal discomfort, as well as lowering blood pressure.
What Else is Linden Tea Good For?
Some lesser-known potential benefits of tilia tea include its anticonvulsant properties (3), which seem to be the result of flavonoids like quercetin, isoquercitrin, and rutin. Quercetin is a key constituent of leafy greens like kale and is thought to be one of the most powerful antioxidants we consume (4).
These antioxidants, as well as the potential anti-inflammatory properties of linden tea, have led many herbalists to speculate that linden tea could be a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer and other chronic diseases. We know, for instance, that antioxidants can eliminate free radicals in the body and that the reduction of these highly-reactive, cell-damaging chemicals may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases (5).
But while such connections can clearly be made, the same can be said for many of the foods and drinks we consume on a regular basis. A lot more research needs to be done, and considerably more positive results need to be found, before anyone should be willing to commit to a statement like that.
To see teas that provide some other unique health benefits, take a look at cistus tea, which has been studied for its benefits in treating lyme disease, and rose hip tea, which is a nutritional powerhouse.
How to Brew Linden Tea
Your first step, as always, is to make sure you have a high-quality tea. The better the tea, the greater the concentration of beneficial compounds, the better it will smell, and the better it will taste. It’s not very easy to find here in the United Kingdom, but a few organic health food stores stock it and you can also import it from the continent.
To make linden tea, simply steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried plant material in a mug of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the herb when ready, add honey, sugar, or lemon to taste, wait for it to cool a little, and then drink.
You should skip the milk for this one, but if the tea isn’t quite to your taste then try mixing it with other herbal tea blends. Strong herbal teas like sideritis, as well as a hearty dollop of honey, will overpower the flavour and give you some additional health benefits, while herbs like lemon verbena will add a tart flavour similar to what you would get from a squirt of lemon juice.
That’s not to say that linden tea is unpalatable. If you have a good-quality tea then it should be fragrant and rich in flavour. But it’s like they say: one man’s poison is another man’s pleasure.
Is Linden Tea Dangerous?
As with anything, there is a risk of allergic reaction when consuming linden tea. It is minimal, but it’s a risk nonetheless. You should also avoid drinking linden tea if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or if you have been diagnosed with heart disease. Likewise, if you are taking any medication then you should consult with your doctor before drinking this tea, as linden may interfere with certain medications.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Frequent use of linden tea has been linked with heart disease (6). This is why it is not recommended to anyone with a history of heart disease. This can be a little worrying, but it’s important to note that while this warning should be heeded (especially by those with heart disease), actual heart damage seems to be incredibly rare and only occurs following frequent and excessive consumption (7).
We can’t say for sure how frequent or how excessive, but it’s pretty safe to assume that the occasional cup of linden tea, or even 1 cup a day, does not fall within these parameters.
Does Shelgo Tea Stock Linden Tea?
It is certainly something we have considered, as linden tea has been on our radar since we launched Shelgo Tea. But we need to run a few checks and make sure we have an organic, reliable supply before we go any further.
It would also help to know if our customers want us to stock it, so if you want to see this herbal tea in our virtual store, be sure to let us know through our contact page or one of our social media accounts.