The best tea for singers can have a positive effect on your voice. Herbal infusions and natural remedies can help to soothe your vocal cords and could lead to improved singing performance. But some have more beneficial properties than others.
As a singer, what should you be drinking and how can your choices help your vocals? In this article, we’ll list the teas and infusions you should be reaching for, if you want to keep your voice in tip-top condition.
The best tea for singers
It’s a British tradition. The comforting cup of tea perfect for any time of day. It’s one of the most popular drinks, but not always the best choice for singers. This is your Typhoo, PG Tips, Tetley, Twinings, etc. (although those brands mostly make other tea flavours now too). It contains anti-oxidants.
Best tea for vocal cords and singing
However, there are many different types of tea beyond that standard black tea. This standard ‘brew’ contains caffeine – as does green tea – and this can have a negative effect on your performance. It might give you a form of energy in the short term, but it can also bring on anxiety, palpitations and insomnia, especially if you’re unused to caffeine. It also dehydrates the voice. If you enjoy a traditional cuppa, switch to decaf where possible.
Tea for singers – rules for all teas
Before we get into the pros and cons of specific teas, here are some general rules to follow regardless of which you choose.
Singers should try to eat and drink well to stay healthy – this contributes to a strong voice. Loading sugar into your tea instantly makes it bad for you. Sugar is linked to lots of major health problems and causes a spike of energy followed by a slump. So first off, skip the sweet stuff. If you must have something sugary, opt for natural honey instead. This will soothe your vocals and create a smoother tone.
All singers should avoid milk – especially during performance days and vocal sessions. Dairy increases mucus production which muffles your tone. For this reason, any tea taken without milk is better. Or take it with non-dairy milk like soy, almond or coconut.
Best tea for the singing voice
There’s so much choice when it comes to tea for singers. You’re bound to find one you like the taste of from the varieties. You should drink it lukewarm or tepid – not boiling. Leave it to steep for a few minutes so it can cool and so you don’t scorch your vocal cords.
Tea for vocal cords
There are all kinds of herbal teas on the market which have many benefits on the voice. It can be a bit overwhelming working out all the differences and other health benefits of each, so we’ve compiled a handy guide.
Here are the major flavours and types, including our favourite teas for singers.
Is black tea good for singers?
Breakfast Tea/Earl Grey Tea/Lady Grey Tea
These are all versions of the black tea we spoke about at the beginning of the article. Breakfast tea is the standard cuppa. The others are more fragranced.
This is a heavily spiced black tea, often served in latte form with lots of sugar. Tasty but not great for singers.
This is hydrating and gentle on the throat. It also has relaxing properties, so is a great choice if you struggle with nerves and anxiety pre-performance. It’s also good to drink before bed, to help you unwind and relax after a gig.
Ginseng is a good tea for a pep up when you’re tired. It gets the blood moving (so it’s also beneficial for circulation), is an anti-inflammatory and can even help you think clearer. The downside is that it can add to feelings of nervousness and give you a dry mouth.
If you must have an energy-giving tea, try green tea or matcha. This has caffeine but also lots of properties that make it good for you, including anti-oxidants. Watch out though as you may find you need the bathroom more often after drinking green tea.
Ginger contains antioxidants which can soothe an irritated throat and boost your immune system. It’s also known to fight viruses. But it fresh and store it in the fridge in batches.
Fermentation is an ancient practice popular in the Far East. Fermented foods carry excellent health benefits, especially for the digestive and immune system due to the presence of probiotics. Kombucha is a type of fermented tea, that has grown in popularity and is now widely available across the country. Fermented teas have alcoholic content, so it’s not a suitable choice for those under 18.
If you’re seeking a pretty tea for an occasion this is likely to be the one you’ll choose. These are also referred to as blooming teas. Containing buds or leaves from flowers, they actually bloom as they steep, so don’t become bitter if left for longer periods, as other teas can. Flowering teas have many useful properties for health. Lily is an excellent choice for singers. It can alleviate a cough and prevents against dry lungs – perfect for winter, when central heating can dry the respiratory system out, affecting the voice. Lily also soothes the nerves.
Herbal tea is another term that represents a wide number of products. Almost all the teas listed here come under the banner of herbal teas. They’re also known as infusions, as technically they don’t contain any actual tea. Herbal teas are occasionally known as tisanes and are made up of herbs, spices or plant material steeped in water. Teas that are not classed as herbal, are the green, black, white and oolong varieties of tea.
Tea that’s not good for the voice
This is a black tea that’s been iced. It usually contains a lot of sugar, and as very cold drinks are bad for the throat, this isn’t a good choice.
Lemon with warm water not only tastes refreshing and gives you a dose of vitamin C, but it also acts as an effective liver cleanse. Drink it first thing in the morning rather than right before a gig as lemon can be drying and can make you need the loo. It’s also clarifying for the voice.
Lemon Ginger Tea
Combining lemon and ginger is a great idea (ideally fresh ingredients). Throw in some honey for an all-round perfect drink.
Liquorice root tea
Bring on the super tea for singers! The liquorice coats the vocal cords to leave them hydrated and smooth. It also helps to help colds and digestion. Add some honey if you find it bitter – it is an acquired taste. It’s a great pre-show drink.
Peppermint, spearmint, apple mint and lemon mint tea fall into this category. Mint is good for digestion and a healthy digestive system contributes to overall health. This, in turn, will help your vocal muscles and lungs operate at full capacity when singing. It also settles the stomach.
Do you get hay fever that interferes with your singing? The green liquid can help the symptoms of sneezing, wheezing, runny nose and eyes – none of which are helpful to singers – to subside. Start slowly though, as this type of tea can cause stomach upset and fluid retention.
This black tea can make you alert and assist in cognitive function – so if you need a quick pick me up, oolong tea might be of use. But limit your intake of it due to the caffeine content.
Throat Coat Tea
This is a blend of ingredients specifically designed to coat and protect your throat, including liquorice, slippery elm, orange, cinnamon and peppermint. This type of tea is made up of medicinal grade ingredients, meaning the process is more stringent and the resulting concoction is classed as a herbal supplement. Buy it in health food shops and use it when you have a sore or strained throat.
This is a less processed form of black tea. It’s high in anti-oxidants so its properties help fight many major diseases, but it still has a little caffeine.
This rare and delicate Chinese tea was once used as gifts for Emperors. Rich in vitamins, it also has a high caffeine content and is very expensive.
We recommend you opt for flowering lily, lemon and ginger, throat coat or liquorice infusions. These have tons of great benefits for the voice. And now you know which teas to avoid too, you’ll be able to make informed decisions, that not only benefit your vocals but your overall health and well-being.
- Is tea good for singing?
As we’ve established, it can be, depending on which tea you drink. But make good choices and if you really must have a traditional cuppa, go for non-dairy milk, skip the sugar and make it decaff. The odd treat won’t do any harm, but be mindful of what you’re drinking before singing.
- Is peppermint tea good for singing?
Peppermint is anti-inflammatory, perfect for protecting your vocal cords from inflammation. It’s excellent for the stomach, so great for nerves. Just be careful not to drink too much as it can make you need the loo more often.
- What do singers drin before they sing?
It doesn’t get better than water. It’s completely free and good for you in every way. If you don’t like it plain, add in some fruit for flavouring, or dunk in an infusion for the extra benefits. Aim to drink 8 glasses of water per day.
Which do you think are the best teas for singers? Are there any that you avoid? Let us know your favourites in the comments below.