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What Is Saffron Tea?

By Lori Spencer
Updated Jan 22, 2024
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Saffron is the delicate, bright-red part of the crocus sativus flower, a member of the lily family. The branched stigmas are collected from the flower to produce the actual saffron spice. Because saffron plants are exceedingly difficult to grow, this spice is very expensive to produce and purchase — a delicacy once enjoyed only by the very wealthy. For many centuries, saffron tea has been used both as a folk medicinal remedy and as a pleasant-tasting, healthful beverage. The ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians drank this flavorful tea, believing it to have positive effects on eyesight and the cardiovascular and digestive systems.

It has long been believed that drinking a cup of saffron tea daily can prevent or retard blindness. The fatty acid content in the tea protects vision cells, according to recent studies conducted by the University of L’Aquila in Abruzzi, Italy. This tea also contains antioxidants and flavonoids such as lycopene, known to reduce the risk of heart disease. These flavonoids may inhibit the spread of cancerous cells and shrink the size of cancerous growths, based upon the results of some early clinical trials. Carotenoids found in saffron may provide additional protection against viruses and disease.

Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), widely regarded as the father of holistic medicine, urged his students to drink saffron tea to promote regularity, better digestion and for other health benefits. The writings of Cayce reference saffron more than 250 times. In 1931, Cayce promoted tea made with saffron as an adjunct treatment to osteopathic manipulation and colonic irrigation, claiming that the tea promoted peristalsis. Cayce instructed his readers to take a half-ounce (about a tablespoon) of weak yellow saffron tea several times a day, between meals, as a digestive aid. Cayce also recommended the tea as a treatment for measles due to its antiseptic effects.

Saffron tea's dark red color comes from crocin, a chemical component of the flower. Preparation of the tea requires about 20 to 30 minutes for proper steeping. To steep the tea, pour boiling hot water over two or three small threads of saffron, cover and let rest. When making saffron tea, only the highest quality saffron should be used. Saffron is not always readily available from local grocers, but it can be found through specialty retailers online. It is typically special ordered and imported in bulk. Saffron may be sold as a powder or threads and should always be stored in a cool, dry place.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1007231 — On Jun 21, 2022

Saffron tea bags are good to have in the morning as they lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure which can reduce the risk of heart diseases.

By keisha87 — On Oct 14, 2013

Saffron is really expensive, but it is worth to buy and use on a daily basis as tea. Drinking saffron tea in long term will prevent an eye related disability called AMD (Age Related Molecular Degeneration), and it also balancess the mood and give you energy, since it has antioxidant properties. Also in Chinese medicine it was used for curing cold. Saffron spice is also help digestion.

Drinking Exir Saffron Tea Regularly is a great habit, I add sugar or honey. Some people do not like the taste but I drink it and found it delicious. Vanilla extract can be added to the tea to change the taste.

By discographer — On Mar 03, 2012

I had been drinking what I thought was saffron tea for some time. But after reading this article that saffron is very expensive, I had doubts about what I was really drinking. I looked into it and found out that it's actually safflower.

Apparently safflower is similar, but not the same. It's weaker than saffron, so it's not as good and that's why it's much cheaper. Saffron is not supposed to be cheap because each saffron flower has only 3 stigmas. And lots of flowers are needed to get enough threads and spice.

I wanted to mention this here because I don't want other people being tricked into using safflower instead of saffron. Be careful when buying saffron online. It may be labeled saffron, but if it's cheap, it's not saffron but probably safflower.

By candyquilt — On Mar 02, 2012

@burcinc-- The spice is different from saffron threads. The spice is a lot stronger in flavor and scent, so saffron tea is actually not like the spice at all because it is made from the threads.

I like to add fresh ginger in my saffron tea and sweeten with honey. If you like, you could buy tea bags of saffron fused with other ingredients and flavors. I have one that is fused with mango, it's very fruity.

You could also add other things in it like cinnamon, clove, cardamom and so forth. I think it's a delightful tea. Even if it tastes a bit different the first time, I'm sure you'll get used to it after a couple of cups.

And it's so good for you! I don't know how I would get through the winter months without saffron tea. I believe that it strengthens my immunity and detoxifies my body.

By burcinc — On Mar 01, 2012

I use saffron powder as a spice and add a little bit to foods while I'm cooking. I've heard about saffron's anti-cancer benefits before. This is mainly why I use it. Since I add a very small amount (about 1/4 teaspoon), it doesn't change the flavor of foods. It just makes it a slightly yellow color.

However, I don't like the scent or the flavor of saffron by itself. I'm sure saffron herbal tea is very beneficial and promotes good health. I just can't imagine drinking it, it must taste horrible.

Does anyone drink saffron tea regularly? What do you do to make it easier to drink?

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