Neem tea is a bitter herbal tea used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of ailments. While it is commonly enjoyed in India, it comes with a few precautions and should not be drunk by everyone.
- Origin: India
- Alternative Names: Indian lilac
- Temperature: 200°F
- Caffeine: none
What Is Neem Tea?
Neem tea, also known as Indian lilac tea, is an herbal infusion made from the whole or ground dried leaves of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). The drought-tolerant tree is indigenous to Southeast Asia and has been used in India for a variety of purposes for centuries. The plant provides much-needed shade and natural pest control with minimal maintenance or water. Neem bark is used to clean teeth, neem oil is used for cosmetics, the wood is used to make furniture, and almost every part of the plant is used in Aryuvedic medicine (traditional Indian homeopathic medicine).
In Ayurveda, neem is said to be bitter, cooling, and vata (the Ayurveda type associated with cooling, drying, reducing, and dispersing). For this reason, neem is often used to treat conditions associated with fire and with the pitta and kapha doshas.
Neem tea tastes incredibly bitter on its own. It is typically blended with other herbs and ingredients to offset the bitterness and for added health benefits. Some neem teas are blended with black or green tea, while other blends are herbal and caffeine free. The exact flavor will depend on the blend but expect a bitter note from the neem leaves.
3 Health Benefits of Neem Tea:
The neem tree is utilized widely for its health properties in Aryuvedic medicine for everything from detoxification to allergies to birth control. The bark and oil are also used for medicinal purposes, including preventing gum disease and treating lice. While neem does come with some warnings and is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, it has been shown to have some benefits.
Neem tea is high in antioxidants, helping to neutralize free radicals that may lead to certain conditions. Antioxidants have been shown to be helpful in preventing cancer.
Products made with neem have natural anti-inflammatory properties, soothing the body and aiding in preventing and treating some conditions.
In several studies, neem has been shown to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antimalarial properties, helping to ward off harmful diseases. Note that neem is not a replacement for traditional medical treatments.
Neem tea can be made from the fresh leaves but is more commonly made from dried whole or ground leaves. The tea is consumed at any time of day and is often drunk for medicinal properties.
How to Drink Neem Tea
Neem tea is typically served hot. About 1 teaspoon should be used per 1 cup of 200-degree water (simmering but not boiling) and steeped for 5 to 10 minutes. It can also be chilled and served cold.
Neem tea leaves are frequently blended with black or green tea or herbs and spices like cinnamon. Blending the tea with sweet and spicy flavors helps to balance the bitterness of the leaf. You can make your own blend at home, adding ingredients like cardamom, fennel, and/or orange peel, or using a ratio of 1 part neem tea to 1 part black, green, or rooibos tea. Counterbalance the bitterness by adding honey or sugar and lemon juice to freshly brewed neem tea.
Neem leaves are also sold as a fine powder. A small amount of powder should be stirred into warm or cool water and mixed well before consuming it. Consult the packaging for the recommended dosage.
Caffeine Content in Neem Tea
Neem tea is made from the leaves of the neem tree, making it an herbal tea and naturally caffeine free. Some neem tea blends include black or green tea, which will add caffeine to the drink. Neem tea is low in acidity but is extremely bitter.
Buying and Storing
Neem tea can be found in health food stores, organic specialty stores, Indian and Southeast Asian markets, and online. The tea should be stored in an airtight container in a dry, dark, cool place. While neem leaves will not go bad, they will eventually go stale. We recommend using your neem tea within six months of purchase.
Using neem tea is not advised for pregnant women, lactating women, couples looking to conceive, children, people taking lithium, those with autoimmune disorders or diabetes, organ transplants, or for someone with surgery scheduled within two weeks.
The effects of consuming high doses of neem over a long period of time are not well studied and therefore not recommended. If you are on medications that are prone to interactions, consult your doctor before consuming neem tea.
Heyman L, Houri-haddad Y, Heyman SN, Ginsburg I, Gleitman Y, Feuerstein O. Combined antioxidant effects of Neem extract, bacteria, red blood cells and Lysozyme: possible relation to periodontal disease. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017;17(1):399. doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1900-3
Jerobin J, Makwana P, Suresh kumar RS, Sundaramoorthy R, Mukherjee A, Chandrasekaran N. Antibacterial activity of neem nanoemulsion and its toxicity assessment on human lymphocytes in vitro. Int J Nanomedicine. 2015;10 Suppl 1:77-86. doi:10.2147/IJN.S79983