Olive leaf tea is a mild tea made from the dried leaves of the olive tree. It has been consumed for hundreds of years in Mediterranean countries, where they believed it had many health benefits. Current research has shown that this tea does indeed have many beneficial qualities, including being high in antioxidants. It also works as an anti-inflammatory and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Some people find the taste of olive leaf tea to be calming and enjoyable. It has been described as resembling green tea, only milder and a bit minty. Honey tends to pair well with the slight olive flavor. Steeping generally takes longer than with other teas, taking about 4 to 7 minutes to bring out the full flavor. Loose olive leaf tea typically has a bolder flavor than that found in tea bags.
Other olive products, such as olive oil and the olive fruits themselves, are known for their healthful traits. The olive leaves appear to have several good qualities of their own. For example, the leaves contain powerful antioxidants. They also contain oleuropein, a potent phytochemical that is said be a natural antibiotic with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral qualities. It may also have the ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Olive leaf tea may also aid in strengthening the immune system, helping to prevent colds and flu, and even shingles; the tea is sometimes used to alleviate inflammatory conditions as well.
Olive leaf tea is typically made from Manzanillo and Mission olive trees. The leaves are washed after being picked, then left to air dry, away from direct sunlight. When properly stored, the tea can stay fresh for about a year. If used after that time, it may lose some of it’s health benefits as well as it’s taste.
The taste of olive leaf tea may not be for everyone. For those who cannot tolerate the flavor, or simply do not wish to drink the tea, there are other ways to obtain the health benefits of the olive leaf. Olive leaf extract and olive leaf supplements are readily available in many health food stores and claim the same benefits of the tea. There are several websites that carry olive leaf products as well.
Though not well-studied, there do not appear to be any negative olive leaf side effects when drinking the tea. The olive leaf extract, however, has a notable side effect called the Herxheimer effect. This occurs when the olive leaf extract begins to kill bad microbes in the body, which can build up toxins. The body attempts to aid in getting rid of toxins and may become overwhelmed, causing such symptoms as diarrhea, fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches. These symptoms typically last a few days and can be lessened by drinking plenty of water.