Did you know that olive leaves can be made into a healthy and delicious tea? While many may know about olive leaf extract and its associated health benefits, fewer are aware that benefits can also come from drinking the leaves as tea.
Olive leaf tea is made by steaming and rolling freshly harvested olive leaves. These leaves are then dried out and cut to produce tea. The result is a caffeine-free herbal tea that can either be drunk on its own or blended with other herbs to create different flavoured varieties.
Olive leaf tea has been around for centuries, and was first used medicinally in Ancient Egypt, where it was considered to be a symbol of heavenly power. It was also traditionally used among Mediterranean people to treat disease1, and for a variety of other conditions ranging from the common cold to malaria to tropical illnesses2.
These days, research has focused on the antioxidant capacity of olive leaf tea. As with olive leaf extract and extra virgin olive oil, olive leaf tea contains the unique antioxidants oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol3. These powerful antioxidants are beneficial to health as they protect the body from damaging free radicals, which are thought to play a role in heart disease, inflammation, and other chronic illnesses4,5.
While research specifically related to the health benefits of olive leaf tea is limited, there are a few studies that have showed promising results. One study from 2018 compared olive leaf tea to green tea and assessed haematological parameters, showing that red blood cell count, haemoglobin and haematocrit were significantly increased in the olive leaf tea group at 6 weeks and 12 weeks of intervention compared to the green tea group6.
Another study into the health benefits of olive leaf tea was published in 2019, this time comparing the health benefits of olive leaf tea to low concentration olive leaf tea in prediabetic individuals with either mild obesity or a normal to high body mass index7. Results from this study showed improvements in serum lipids (significant decreases in LDL-cholesterol and log transformed triglycerides), with reductions higher in the olive leaf tea group that then low concentration olive leaf tea group7.
The results of these studies are promising, however in order to develop the evidence base further, more research is needed.
How and when to drink olive leaf tea
Olive leaf tea is a versatile drink that is suitable for a variety of drinking occasions. It is caffeine free and can therefore be enjoyed any time throughout the day, and it can also be consumed hot or cold. As with most other teas, olive leaf tea is prepared by steeping the leaves or teabag in hot water (not quite boiling) for a few minutes.
Olive leaf tea can even be made into a healthier version of icy poles/popsicles! Simply brew the tea as per the instructions on the packet, and then place in the fridge until cold. Once chilled, either sweeten with a small amount honey or maple syrup or pour straight into popsicle/icy-pole moulds. Pop in some garnishes such as blueberries, raspberries, cucumber, or mint and freeze overnight.
View article references
- Sedef N, Karakaya S. Olive tree (Olea europaea) leaves: potential beneficial effects on human health. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(11):632–8.
- Olive Leaf Extract. Alt Med Rev. At: http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/14/1/62.pdf
- Vogel P, Machado I, Garavaglia J, et al. Polyphenol benefits of olive leaf (Olea europaea L.) to human health. Nutr Hosp. 2015;31(3):1427–33.
- Granados-Principal S, Quiles J, Ramirez-Tortosa C, et al. Hydroxytyrosol: from laboratory investigations to future clinical trials. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(4):191–206.
- Lee O, Lee B. Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of individual and combined phenolics in Olea europaea leaf extract. Bioresor Technol. 2010; 101:3751-4
- Ferdousi.F, Araki R, Hashimoto K, et al. Olive leaf tea may have haematological health benefit over green tea. Clin Nutr. 2018. doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2018.11.009
- Araki R, Fuji K, Yuine N, et al. Olive leaf tea is beneficial for lipid metabolism in adults with prediabetes: and exploratory randomized controlled trial. Nutr Res. 2019; 67:60-66