Bilberry tea is an herbal drink prepared using the leaves or berries of the bilberry plant, also known as huckleberry, whortleberry, and blueberry. During the harvesting season, the herbal tea may be prepared using an extract of the fresh berries. Out of season and in other countries, bilberry tea is made by pouring 1 cup (236 milliliters) of boiling water over 1 teaspoon (4.7 grams) of dried bilberry leaves. When using dried leaves or berries to make bilberry tea, the herbs should be allowed to steep for at least five minutes prior to straining and drinking. For a stronger tea, the herbs and berries may be steeped for up to 15 minutes.
The tea may also be prepared by boiling the dried herbs and berries in a small pot or sauce pan. Boiling the bilberry herbs is recommended when a stronger decoction is desired. Bilberry tea can be purchased at any health food store or on the Internet. Governmental food safety regulators, such as the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, do not typically regulate the growth and manufacturing of bilberry tea, the consumer must use his or her best judgment when purchasing bilberry tea.
Bilberry contains Vitamins A and C, supplying several benefits including sharper vision and the growth or repair of tissue cells. Bilberry has been used to treat pigmentosa, glaucoma, and myopia. The herbal tea has also been used to soothe nausea, aid digestion, and calm diarrhea. The tea can also be used to treat sore throats by either drinking or gargling the liquid. After being steeped, the herbs release an antioxidant called anthocyanosides, which may offer additional medical benefits.
It is possible to be allergic to bilberry plants. When drinking bilberry tea for the first time, it is important to be cautious. Mild allergic reactions to bilberry tea include itchy hives or a rash. More serious allergic reactions can include swelling of the lips, face, or tongue and respiratory problems. Prior to introducing bilberry to a diet for medicinal purposes, it may be best to consult a doctor. Bilberry tea may interfere with prescription and non-prescription drugs, particularly blood thinners. When drinking bilberry tea, no more than three cups should be consumed per day. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not consume the tea.
Other side effects vary in severity, and often occur when the tea is consumed more than recommended. Mild side effects may include diarrhea, a dry mouth, and dry or itchy eyes. If taken in consistently large doses, bilberry tea may also cause low blood sugar. Additional side effects may exist, but more studies are required to establish the tea's overall safety.