Here is how to easily make fresh sage (salvia officinalis) herbal tea, hot or iced. The taste is pleasantly earthy, refreshing, and herbal with a hint of natural sweetness.
Dried sage teas are common, but I think using fresh sage leaves is even better if you have access to them.
Sage also has some surprising potential health benefits which we will briefly explore below.
And if you love mixing herbs and fresh ingredients together like I do — sage pairs very well with fresh mint in this recipe.
Growing Sage (Outside Or Indoors)
Alongside making an herbal tea, sage is a wonderful culinary herb with countless uses in the kitchen.
(Browned butter with sage for example is one of the delicious things you can do with this herb.)
And it is so easy to grow outside in your garden or indoors in a pot year-round.
I do both.
And it is a very beautiful ornamental (as you can see in the photos above) with an array of long-lasting flowers that are also edible and wonderfully scented themselves.
Buying fresh sage leaves is pretty expensive, and for about the same cost you can just buy an already started sage plant and have a steady supply of fresh leaves right from your kitchen counter or outdoor garden.
See my in-depth guide on How To Easily Grow Sage In Your Garden, or for indoor gardening information — Growing Sage Indoors In Pots.
Are All Varieties of Sage Edible?
So if you're out in nature foraging and you come across something that looks and smells like sage, you better make sure you can identify the exact type of sage you are dealing with.
Obviously, the sage you buy in the grocery store or grow yourself from seeds purchased from the usual sources is perfectly edible and safe.
There are over 900 varieties of sage out there, but only a few are edible and used for culinary purposes.
Is Sage Tea Safe to Drink?
Sage is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in HIGH DOSES or for a long time.
Some species of sage, such as common sage (Salvia officinalis), contain a chemical called thujone. Thujone can be poisonous if you get enough of it.
This chemical can cause seizures and damage to the liver and nervous systems.
That being said, you are highly unlikely to run into this problem from drinking fresh sage herbal tea, even regularly.
The real issue with thujone comes from sage essential oils which are highly concentrated formulations that pose numerous risks when used incorrectly.
Sage pills and essential oils may cause contractions in pregnant women and as such, it is recommended that you avoid those.
Please consult your doctor or midwife.
Fresh sage herbal tea is generally considered fine, but like with any herbs — don't overdo it and consult the appropriate health practitioners.
Fresh sage herbal tea is perfectly safe for children if they enjoy it.
What does the science say?
Sage has been used since ancient times medicinally alongside its numerous culinary uses.
In fact, the Latin name salvia officinalis is derived either from the Latin salvus, which means “healthy”, or salvare, meaning “to heal.”
In some native cultures, white sage actually has sacred and purifying aspects tied to it.
I use a white sage smudge stick in my own home.
Although I have no cultural, spiritual, or religious affiliation with sage smudging, I absolutely do find that the burning of white sage is a calming activity that dispels odors and musty air.
It smells great too.
After all the (still ongoing) renovations we started in the farmhouse, the scent of sage was grounding and lovely to have alongside the drywall dust.
I also drink sage tea because I love the taste, not because I view it as a medicinal herb.
That being said, there are numerous emerging studies about the unique profile of sage and the wonderful array of benefits it may have.
Of course, that is just a normal part of anyone eating a more natural and nutrient-dense diet, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise either.
Some of these benefits include:
- A source of antioxidants
- Reducing inflammation
- Supporting oral health
- Improving blood sugar control
- Brain health/function and mood
- Anticancer properties
- Skin health
- Heart health
- Supporting women's health
- Excessive sweating
Unsurprisingly, the primary (and only really) ingredient for fresh sage tea — is fresh sage leaves. As an added bonus you don't even need — they're soft and nice to pet.
(This is also a great time and way to add more powdered collagen into your food by the way.)
See Recipe Card For All Quantities.
The instructions are the same whether you are making fresh sage herbal tea hot or iced.
(Only the quantity of water will change as it makes more sense to make a big bottle/pitcher of iced fresh sage tea.)
- Place your fresh sage leaves into a cup, teapot, (or pitcher).
- Pour hot water over the fresh leaves.
- Steep for 15 minutes.
- Add honey, if using, or sweetener of choice. And enjoy.
- If making iced sage tea, place your pitcher or bottle into the fridge and allow it to chill.
A Note on Sweetener
I suggest honey here as an option to flavour your hot or iced fresh sage tea, but I really suggest you try it first without any honey or sweetener at all.
Sage has a surprising and pleasant natural sweetness, most noticeable as an after-taste in the back of the throat when drinking it.
This is not noticeable (by me anyways) when the sage leaves are dried.
I rarely add honey to my fresh sage teas personally. Try both ways and see what you prefer.
If Using Dried Sage Instead of Fresh
Although fresh sage herbal tea is my preference, there is nothing wrong with dried sage tea either — especially if you're drying your own abundant harvest (more on that below).
Dried sage herbal tea is more astringent, stronger, and slightly bitter when compared to fresh sage tea.
- Place ¼ cup of dried sage leaves into a pot with 2 cups of fresh water.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Allow to steep for a few minutes afterwards (up to 5) before straining and sweetening with honey.
Preserving (Drying) Fresh Sage Leaves
If you grow your own sage or buy it regularly, you might at some point end up with more than you can consume before it goes off.
Sage is so easy to dry.
Just tie the ends in twine and hang it upside down for a week or so out of direct light. Complete darkness is best as light destroys many of the beneficial compounds in herbs and other plants.
Store in an airtight container afterwards.
Dried sage tea may not be as lovely as fresh sage herbal tea, but it is still a very nice drink regardless.
Check out my guide here on the best ways of preserving fresh herbs:
Other Uses For Sage
Alongside this fresh sage herbal tea recipe, sage is an incredible herb with numerous culinary applications.
It is very common in Italian and Mediterranean cooking.
In my home country Croatia, sage is grown everywhere.
Sage is very delicious in a risotto!
Make a traditional risotto with porcini mushrooms and sage.
This is why I recommend growing your own! Always have a fresh supply on hand.
Sage can be used to make a browned butter sauce.
It can be used in braised meat stews and roasts.
It goes with many pasta dishes too (like the ones using browned butter sauce and garlic.)
One of my favorite pasta recipes combines 'Nduja Sausage With Caramelized Onions and I think sage would be excellent added in here too.
Sage is a MUST in my culinary herb garden, and like with most things, if you take the scant amount of time to keep one or two alive in a pot, you will find yourself using it more and more often.
Fresh sage herbal tea (hot or iced) is a tasty and refreshing beverage with a surprisingly natural sweetness. The honey is completely optional. You can also try adding the juice and zest of a lemon or lime, or ginger.
This recipe scales up easily. I'm providing the quantities for 1 standard-sized mug. Play with amounts to get your preferred taste,
- 5- 15 Fresh Sage Leaves
- Hot Water
- 1 Tablespoon Honey (Optional)
- For HOT Fresh Sage Tea: Bring water to a rolling boil and pour it over about 5-7 fresh sage leaves in a standard-sized mug.
- Add honey and other optional ingredients if using and allow to steep for at least 5 minutes and up to 15 minutes for a stronger tea.
- You do not need to discard the sage leaves but can keep them inside the mug.
- For ICED Fresh Sage Tea: Bring 1 Litre (1 Quart) of water to a boil and pour it over about 15 fresh sage leaves.
- Allow the leaves to steep for about 15 minutes.
- Remove and compost the leaves.
- Add honey and other national ingredients if using, and refrigerate until cold.
Play with the number of sage leaves used. You may find that you prefer it stronger or milder. For dried sage leaf tea, see the notes provided in the main article.
Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 66Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 11mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 0gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g
All information presented and written are intended for informational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.