Tea is a beverage made by steeping the leaves of the tea plant in boiling water. Many teas, and some herbal infusions, have health-boosting properties and may benefit people with type 2 diabetes.

All true teas, whether black, green, Oolong, or white, come from the same Camellia sinensis plant. However, herbal infusions – sometimes also called teas – are made with different herbs and fruits, such as chamomile, mint, and hibiscus tea.

This article explores the interaction between tea (including infusions) and type 2 diabetes. It also looks at different types of tea and infusions, and the best choices for an individual with type 2 diabetes.

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Unsweetened tea or herbal infusions can be a good choice of low-calorie beverage for someone with type 2 diabetes, as the drink does not impact blood sugar levels. They can also help avoid dehydration, which can spike blood sugar levels.

Additionally, teas and infusions may contain active compounds with some health benefits that can help control blood sugar levels and lower inflammation.

About diabetes

There are three major types of diabetes: Type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body uses insulin and is the most common type of diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

When an individual has type 2 diabetes, their blood glucose level may become too high, and they must regularly monitor and carefully regulate their blood sugar levels.

True tea is made from the leaf of the tea plant, while herbal infusions – also called “tisanes” – are made from any other edible plant, including fruits and herbs.

True tea

Tea is the world’s second-most-popular beverage, consumed by two-thirds of the global population. True tea – black, green, Oolong, and white – is made from the leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). All true teas come from the same plant but undergo different treatment processes.

A 2013 paper concluded that the polyphenols in green and black tea might have protective effects against the development of diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and cancer, and may support cardiovascular health.

Herbal infusions

While herbal or fruit infusions are often referred to as “teas,” they do not contain leaves from the tea plant.

Herbal infusions can be made from the leaves, stems, roots, fruits, buds, and flowers of virtually any edible fruits and herbs. Health benefits vary according to their ingredients and their bioactive compounds.

Tea and herbal infusions may benefit individuals with type 2 diabetes thanks to active plant compounds that help control blood sugar levels and have antioxidant effects.

True tea

In a 2017 review of tea’s antidiabetic effects, the authors concluded that tea contains abundant polyphenols and caffeine that have beneficial antidiabetic effects on type 2 diabetes. Tea compounds with antioxidant effects include theaflavin and thearubigins.

Additionally, the study suggested tea may improve insulin resistance, suppress hyperglycemia, boost immunity, and lessen diabetes-induced nerve cell damage. However, the authors also found inconsistent associations between drinking tea and a reduced risk of developing diabetes.

The authors also note that studies may have different findings because of the varying chemical composition of teas. They highlight the importance of isolating the bioactive compounds in tea to test their antidiabetic effects individually.

Herbal infusions

A 2018 review listed the following health benefits of some common herbal infusions:

  • Ginger: Anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic
  • Peppermint: Antioxidant and antitumor effects
  • Rosehip: Anti-inflammatory
  • Sage: Increases liver antioxidants
  • Yerba mate: Protects the cardiovascular and hepatic system

Both teas and herbal infusions have potential health benefits for a person with type 2 diabetes:

True tea

Green and black tea protect against the development of several diseases including diabetes.


In a 2019 review of the effects of tea on diabetes, authors highlighted the beneficial effects of green tea on diabetes, including decreasing inflammation and helping control blood sugar.

Green tea may also protect against a person developing diabetes. In a 2017 study of senior Japanese men and women, researchers found that drinking more than 7 cups of green tea each day reduced the risk of developing diabetes associated with rice intake in women.


Black tea may help manage blood sugar levels. In a 2017 study, consuming black tea with a sugary drink significantly decreased post-meal blood sugar levels compared to the control in both healthy and people living with prediabetes.

As with green tea, black tea may play a positive role in protecting against diabetes and its complications, although researchers do not yet fully understand the mechanisms.

Herbal infusions

Herbal infusions are caffeine-free and may be beneficial in helping regulate sugar intake, and improving antioxidant levels. They include these varieties:


Chamomile tea may optimize blood sugar regulation and protect the body from oxidative stress, leading to diabetes complications.

One study of 64 people with diabetes found that those who drank chamomile tea 3 times daily for eight weeks showed significantly improved glycemic control and antioxidant levels. Further research on a larger study group for a longer period may help confirm this effect.


Cinnamon tea may help reduce blood sugar levels. In a small study of 30 people with normal blood sugar levels, drinking 3.5 ounces of cinnamon tea before drinking a sugar solution resulted in lower blood sugar levels when compared to the control group.

Further research is needed to determine the effects of cinnamon tea.


As indicated by a 2016 study, and an earlier 2014 study on rats, hibiscus tea may reduce insulin resistance.

Around two-thirds of people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. In an early 2008 study, drinking hibiscus tea twice a day for one month was associated with a reduction in systolic blood pressure in people with diabetes when compared with black tea.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm essential oils may help decrease blood sugar levels by boosting glucose uptake and curbing glucose synthesis. However, these findings are from an older 2010 study in mice.

In a 2018 study of people with type 2 diabetes, consuming lemon balm extract capsules for 12 weeks was linked to improved glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors.

These results suggest that drinking lemon balm tea may have comparable effects, but more studies are necessary.


Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin. A 2020 review of human and animal research noted that curcumin intake might reduce blood sugar by improving tissues’ insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake.

Although consuming tea and herbal infusions can be a healthy choice, people should be aware that sweetening their beverages with sugar or honey can affect blood sugar regulation.

A 2014 literature review found that sugar-sweetened beverages might be associated with blood sugar increase, which may be linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes may want to drink unsweetened tea or herbal infusions to avoid increasing their blood sugar levels. If a person is drinking true tea, they could add lemon, cinnamon, or other fruits and herbs to help flavor the tea without adding sugar.

Packaged tea and herbal infusion products may contain added sugars, so it is essential to check the ingredients.

Additionally, some herbal infusions may interact with diabetes medications. For example, prickly pear may interact with glipizide and metformin, and fenugreek may interact with glibenclamide. Therefore, people should check with their doctor about any possible interactions between their medication and herbal teas.

Tea and herbal infusions are popular beverages that potentially could benefit people with type 2 diabetes.

True teas, such as green, and black tea, may have beneficial effects for a person with type 2 diabetes. Many herbal infusions – including chamomile, turmeric, lemon balm, cinnamon, hibiscus – may also contain compounds with antidiabetic effects.

People with type 2 diabetes should avoid sweetening their tea or herbal infusions with sugar or honey. They should also confirm with their doctor that herbal teas will not interfere with any diabetic medications.