We Don’t Believe in Detox Tea but Tasted a Bunch Anyway. Here’s the Winner!

updated Jan 14, 2020
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Credit: Cathy Pyle

After a busy holiday month packed with sweet treats and boozy drinks, we crave anything that makes our tummies feel good. This is the time of year when it seems everyone is on a juice cleanse or trying a diet free of sugar, alcohol, and gluten. People can’t seem to quit labeling these food choices as a “detox” — a word we’ve banned from Kitchn as it is practically meaningless, medically speaking — but we do understand and sympathize with the feeling of wanting to start over, feel good, scrubbed clean, and alert.

What Is a Detox Tea? (And Can It Actually, Um, Detoxify You?)

So: “detox teas.” What are they? And are they OK to drink? Detox teas are ones that claim to have some melange of antioxidant herbs and traditional medicinals that purify your body and make you feel a little better. Of course, there are no definitive studies to suggest that detoxifying anything in your body let alone your liver is necessary. (Or that any food can do that for you.) The Mayo Clinic and other science-driven health outlets say a healthy liver does a great job at removing “toxins” on its own. And if you do have a medical condition, particularly one that requires medication, or you are pregnant or nursing, you’ll want to consult a doctor before consuming any significant quantity of herbs, “natural” and “traditional” or otherwise.

But let’s be real; drinking an extra three cups of liquid a day is usually a good thing, and if that liquid is steeped in antioxidant-rich herbs, well, OK great. Many of these “detox” teas are actually quite fortifying and can make your tummy feel good. And if the weather gets cold, we love having something hot to sip that isn’t packed full of sugar.

So we set out to find all the detox teas that regular grocery stores have to offer, examined the ingredients to make sure we weren’t getting in over our heads, and then brewed them all up to see which ones actually tasted good enough to drink on a daily basis.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

What Is in a Detox Tea?

All nine of the teas we tried were pretty mild both in flavor and in the herb department. None incorporated senna (often used in detox teas to get the bowels moving; if you consume too much for too long, it can cause diarrhea and dehydration). All but one were tisanes rather than teas (read: only herbal, no coffee or tea, so no worries about getting over-caffeinated). They were built on a base of dandelion, burdock, or chicory roots (or a combination), which have antioxidant and diuretic properties to help “stimulate the liver’s natural process of detoxification,” according to one brand. These herbs lend the herbal teas a mild, roast-y flavor that’s actually quite comforting, with none of the tannins associated with green or black teas. 

Other herbs commonly found in most of the teas were licorice root, anise and fennel seeds (one was so anise-y it tasted like Good & Plenty candy), cinnamon, sarsaparilla, cardamom, and ginger. These are supposed to help regulate digestion as well as aid the liver. Two teas had schisandra berry, which is often used in Chinese medicine to treat liver problems. Sadly, those were the two we liked the least (maybe Schisandra berry is an acquired taste?).

The Winner of Our Detox Tea Taste Test

So, which tea was delicious enough we’d happily sip it all day?

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Yogi Tea Detox Tea

This was the detox tea we could find anywhere without fail, and it was the one we kept coming back to — thanks to its comforting, toasty, cinnamon flavor. For those who want to mix things up, the Berry version was bright, tart, and juicy, while the Peach version was more sweet and honeyed. 

Buy: Yogi Tea Detox Tea, $4 for 16 tea bags at Walmart

Do you have a favorite “detox” or tummy-friendly tea? Tell us about it in the comments below!