Making cinnamon tea is a rather simple process — All you need to do is take a cinnamon stick (or two) and then boil it in water for a few minutes, and you’ll have a spicy beverage that may have antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects,1 to name just a few of its benefits. Learn how a cup of cinnamon tea may help boost your health by reading this article.
As mentioned, cinnamon tea is a drink made by infusing cinnamon in hot water. Cinnamon is a spice with a long history in Ayurvedic medicine, having been used for more than 6,000 years. It comes from a plant genus called Cinnamomum, in which 250 trees and shrubs fall under, most of them native to Australia and Asia.2 According to Medical News Today, though, it’s also native to South America and the Caribbean.3
Cinnamon appears either as a powder or as curled and fragrant brownish sticks — in fact, they come from the bark of cinnamon trees. According to the Smithsonian.com, this spice is harvested by “scoring and peeling sections of bark from trees and then scraping off the outer portion, revealing the light reddish brown inner bark.”4
Peels that come from shoots and the smaller twigs are then dried — these are the curled sticks that you’re likely familiar with. Larger cinnamon pieces, however, are processed and ground into powdered spice.5
Spice Advice describes cinnamon as having a sweet and woody fragrance.6 The flavor depends on the type of cinnamon you’re getting, because there are actually two types of cinnamon — cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon.7
According to an article in Bon Appetit, cassia cinnamon has a darker color and rougher texture, and is rolled in thick sheets that are much thicker than Ceylon cinnamon. There are three types classified according to their place of origin: Indonesia, China and Saigon.8
Indonesian cassia, the most common variety in the U.S., is said to have the mildest and sweetest flavor, while Chinese cassia has a strong and bitter flavor; its use is more medicinal than culinary. Saigon is spicy, with an intense flavor and fragrance.
Ceylon cinnamon, on the other hand, is dubbed “true” cinnamon. Compared to cassia, its flavor and aroma are more delicate and milder, described as having floral notes. The cinnamon sheets are hand-processed and rolled in thin and flat layers, much finer in texture compared to the other type. Because of this, Ceylon cinnamon is much more expensive and harder to find in stores.9 Most of the world’s supply of this spice comes from Sri Lanka and the south part of the India.10
Aside from the three potent essential oils in this spice, namely cinnamic acid, cinnamaldehyde and cinnamate, cinnamon also contains these beneficial compounds:11
- Caryophyllene oxide
- Bornyl acetate
These essential oils, which may be found in cinnamon tea (albeit in trace amounts), are responsible for the many health benefits linked to this popular spice. Using this spice or sipping on cinnamon tea may have positive effects on the following conditions:
• Type 2 diabetes — A 2010 study claimed that cinnamon and its components “have been shown to have beneficial effects on essentially all of the factors associated with metabolic syndrome, including insulin sensitivity, glucose, lipids, antioxidants, inflammation, blood pressure, and body weight.”12
• Parkinson’s disease — A 2014 animal study found that cinnamon may benefit patients with this illness, as oral intake led to “dopaminergic neuronal protection, normalized striatal neurotransmitters, and improved motor functions” among the test subjects.13
• Alzheimer’s disease — In one study, an extract taken from Ceylon cinnamon was found to help inhibit hallmarks of this illness. This means that cinnamon may have a potential role in the discovery of therapeutic remedies for Alzheimer’s disease.14
• Multiple sclerosis — A 2015 study conducted on mice found that treatment with cinnamon may help “modify the pathological features” among the test subjects that have the animal model of this disease.
These features include “widespread inflammation, loss of regulatory T cells (Tregs), hyperactivity of autoimmune Th1 and Th17 cells, breakdown of blood-brain barrier (BBB) and blood-spinal cord barrier (BSB), and loss of neuroprotective molecules in the [central nervous system].”15
• Cancer — A study in the journal Molecules found that trans-cinnamic aldehyde, which is a key compound responsible for the potency of this plant’s essential oil, may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.16
Cinnamon tea is one of those drinks you can make and enjoy at any time of day. The best way to prepare this is to use whole cinnamon sticks. Here’s a basic recipe from WikiHow you can try:17
Cinnamon Stick Tea
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 1/2 cup (355 ml) water
1. Place the water in a medium saucepan (a glass kettle also works), along with the cinnamon stick. Cover and place on the stove. For a stronger tea, break the cinnamon stick into a few smaller pieces.
2. Turn the stove to medium low and bring the water to a slow boil. This slow process allows the flavor of the cinnamon to better leach out of the stick. This should take around 15 to 25 minutes. It takes a bit of time to darken, though, so if you see the water turning only a pale yellow color even upon reaching full boil, don’t worry.
3. Remove the pot or saucepan from the stove once it’s come to a complete boil. Allow the tea to cool slightly, around 15 minutes. During this time, the rest of the cinnamon’s flavor will be released from the stick. You’ll see it turn a golden red color.
4. Strain the tea using a fine mesh strainer and serve. Drink it right away. If you want the tea to be hotter, put it back in the pot and reheat it over the stove.
One of the best things about cinnamon is that it goes well with a variety of other flavors. You can infuse the tea with other herbs and spices, or even add some citrus juice. Here are a few cinnamon tea recipe options you can try.
Ginger and Cinnamon Tea
1. Put the cinnamon, ginger and four cups cold water in a saucepan, over high heat and allow to boil.
2. Reduce heat to low once the water has boiled, and then let simmer, without cover, for five minutes, so flavors will develop.
3. Strain the mixture in a heatproof jug. Mix in the honey and stir. Set aside until slightly cooled and then drink.
(Recipe from Taste.com.au18)
Apple and Cinnamon Tea
• Peel from 3 medium organic apples, washed
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 teaspoons raw honey
1. Put the apple peels in a small pot of boiling water. Add the cinnamon stick and honey.
2. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes.
3. Strain out the peels and drink. This recipe makes two servings.
(Recipe adapted from Tasty19)
Cinnamon Honey Tea
• Hot water
• 1 tablespoon raw honey
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder or 1 cinnamon stick
1. If you’re using cinnamon powder, mix the honey and cinnamon in the bottom of a cup until you form a paste. If using a cinnamon stick, add the honey to the bottom of the cup and then put the cinnamon stick on top of it.
2. Add the hot water.
3. Stir well until the mixture is well-blended. If using the powder, make sure it’s dissolved. Enjoy!
(Recipe adapted from Old Fashioned Families20)
Of the two types of cinnamon mentioned above, Ceylon cinnamon tends to be recommended, as it does not contain high levels of coumarin. This phytochemical can be potentially dangerous, as it has hepatotoxic and carcinogenic properties, meaning it can harm the liver and increase your risk of cancer.21
Cassia cinnamon has as much as 1% coumarin, but Ceylon cinnamon only has 0.004%.22 So if buying this spice to make cinnamon tea, make sure to choose Ceylon cinnamon, so you can avoid the side effects of this substance.
Q: What is cinnamon tea good for?
A: Cinnamon spice is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidiabetic, anticancer and antimicrobial properties.23 It may also help lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases. These benefits may be passed on to cinnamon tea.
Q: Can I drink cinnamon tea while pregnant?
A: In small amounts, cinnamon and cinnamon tea may be safe for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. However, do not consume this in large quantities, as the safety of this spice in high doses is not known.24 Always drink cinnamon tea, or any herbal tea, in moderation.
Q: Can cinnamon tea help you lose weight?
A: Mixing cinnamon and honey in a drink is gaining popularity as a weight loss solution, but don’t be so quick to jump on this trend. As Medical News Today notes, “no studies prove conclusively that cinnamon and honey can help you lose weight.”25 Instead, focus on modifying your diet and adjusting your lifestyle to include exercise to help you shed unwanted fat and moderate your weight.