A recipe for a Frankincense Tea

A recipe for a Frankincense cough and cold

Tea or infusion

Many thanks to my reader, “Auntie Doodles, for this recipe. She discovered it while visiting her daughter in Qatar. I have heard about the use of Frankincense tears in this manner but have not been able to confirm a traditional recipe till now.  So, for coughs, colds, congestion here is a simple and traditional recipe for Frankincense tears.

  • 1 heaping teaspoon of loose Frankincense Papyrifera or Carterii/Sacra tears. You can break them up if they are in large lumps, or crush them coarsely in your mortar.
  • Place Frankincense in a glass, mug or cup, (250 to 400Ml.)
  • Cover with room temperature water.
  • Close loosely with a saucer.
  • Let stand overnight at room temperature.
  • Take the infused water in tablespoon doses as needed for coughs, colds, the discomforts of fevers and flu.
  • It will keep for a couple of days.
  • To keep it longer, pour off the liquid and store it for up to a week, covered in the fridge.
  • To preserve this medicine for months, transfer the liquid to an ice cube tray. When frozen, move the cubes to a sealed container or plastic bag and store for future use.

I see numerous visitors from Arabian countries, India, Asia and African states coming through this web site. Whether family recipes, or regional traditions, I would be deeply grateful for any information anyone could share about their own traditional uses of Frankincense, Myrrh and other oleoresins.  Too much of our ancient knowledge is getting lost in the wave of progress we are riding.

Ethnobotanical research does not have the economic value or financial incentive of other types of research, and is usually underfunded. It can’t keep up with its role of preserving our rich oral traditions before they are lost.  If you would like to share any cultural wisdom or traditional recipes you possess, and help preserve them for posterity, please leave a comment for me below, or email me directly at dnriegler@gmail.com. I offer my thanks and gratitude in advance. Thank you!!

To read the whole post, from which this recipe was taken, and includes other uses for frankincense and other oleoresins, please see-“Preparing Winter medicine from tree saps“.




  1. Frankincense Gum Resin and Powder is a source of Boswellic acid


    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Structure of α-boswellic acid

    3D model of α-boswellic acid

    Structure of β-boswellic acid

    3D model of β-boswellic acid

    Structure of 11-keto-β-boswellic acid

    3D model of 11-keto-β-boswellic acid
    Boswellic acids are a series of pentacyclic triterpene molecules that are produced by plants in the genus Boswellia. Like many other terpenes, boswellic acids appear in the resin of the plant that exudes them; it is estimated that they make up 30% of the resin of Boswellia serrata.[1] While boswellic acids are a major component of the resin, the steam or hydro distilled frankincense essential oil does not contain any boswellic acid as these components are non-volatile and too large to come over in the steam distillation process (the essential oil is composed mainly of the much lighter monoterpene and sesquiterpene molecules with small amounts of diterpenoid components being the upper limit in terms of molecular weight).[2][3][4]


    Beta-boswellic acid, keto-beta-boswellic acid, and acetyl-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) have been indicated in apoptosis of cancer cells, in particular brain tumors and cells affected by leukemia or colon cancer.[5]

    Acetyl-boswellic acids also exhibit anti-inflammatory behaviour by inhibiting leukotriene synthesis.[6] To be specific, it inhibits the activity of the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase through a non-redox reaction. Clinical trials[7][8] have investigated the effectiveness of boswellic acids in treating ulcerative colitis, but a study on chemically induced colitis in mouse models[9] showed little effectiveness. A latter study showed that low doses of Boswellia serrata extract may have hepatoprotective effects. The higher dose was found to have a milder hepatoprotective effect than the lower dose.

  2. writing to you from istanbul. my spice vendor told me singers buy frankincense tears to suck on- because it helps with their voice. one or two pieces a time.

  3. Hi dear

    I’ve now discovered a lot of benefits of franksin through research on Google and now would like to buy resin but not sure which is for internal use that could help me fight fatigu fibmyaligia and other health condition. To be specific, I’ve had infection, bloating and inflammation in my stomach, had a lot of medication but not helped. Also my digestive system is very weak. Anyway, need your advice.

    Ps- could you send me the link/video to the extracting of the resin’s BOwlic Acid.

    Thank you

  4. Hello, I just came back from a trip and had a stopover in Qatar which I used to do a little tour around the city and stop in the Souq. I was having a cough (and still have) and so in one little shop selling spices I asked the owner for a remedy for my throat. Actually the guy didn’t speak English so I showed him like I was coughing and he gave me this and showed me like “you put water and you drink it”. So yesterday when I arrived I tried it and put some of the stones and boiling water to it. The result was this kind of “soapy” white water and the stones being like chewy. I tried and it was bitter and a strange taste, definitely not like a normal infusion so I was paranoid that maybe the guy didn’t understand me well so I threw it. But today by twist of fate I had the TV on and they started doing a documentary about Oman and I saw the “stones” I bought just two days ago and how they were really being used as a remedy. So here I am learning how I can use the Frankincense tears (now I can use the proper name) that I still have to get rid of this annoying cough! My question is then how much should I drink? I see that you say I can prepare a little bit and drink it in tablespoons but how many per day aprox? And also what is the normal color that it should have the water? this white soapish? Thank you very much for the website, greetings from Spain!

    1. Hi Toni.
      Thank you so much for your comment! There is a dearth of real-time reporting on the use of Frankincense in folk medicine and I am sure many readers will benefit from your experience.
      Sounds like you prepared the tea perfectly. White, soapy with a bitter strange taste are good indications. When people prepare it like a regular tea infusion and drink it as soon as it cools, they miss out on all the medicinal goodness of the Frankincense resin and Boswellic acids. You created an emulsion of the water-soluble and the oil-soluble compounds which is where the good stuff is.
      As far as how much is too much, there are no known side effects to Frankincense except occasional sensitivity to the essential oil content. I suggest no more than two cups of this infusion a day and consuming the residual resin. If two cups a day sits well with you, then you can explore higher doses. I think taking it consistently for 2 or 3 days is likely more effective than taking a large amount in one day.

  5. Hello Dan,
    This is very informative and useful post. Thanks for sharing. I am from India and I have frankincense resin locally available. I want to use this for osteoarthritis. I will try the water recipe. I recently made oil by putting the crushed resins in sesame oil for 3 weeks. I used it for massage. I would want to know if I can ingest this.

    1. Hi Bhavana. Yes. You can ingest it. I find a powder of Frankincense works well. Studies show the therapeutic compounds are absorbed to a much greater degree when it is consumed with oily food. Not on an empty stomach. I personally take 1/2 to 1 level teaspoon 2-5 times a day when needed.

  6. How long will Frankinsence tea last in the refrigerator. Put the rocks in a big gallon jar, added water, and left it for over a month. The tea is really dark, and it looks like sludge in the bottom. Is it safe to drink?

    1. Hi Steve.
      If the Frankincense and your tools were not sterilized ahead of time, the tea is probably home to a variety of pathogens at this point and should not be consumed.
      A safer method for storing a large batch of Frankincense tea is to freeze it in ice cube trays and transfer the frozen cubes to a zip-lock bag in the freezer. This will keep your tea fresh, uncontaminated, and in convenient portions for future use. I believe you can store these tea cubes for about 6 months.
      If it doesn’t smell “off” and you don’t want to waste the Gallon of tea you kept in the fridge, you could boil it for 20 minutes and find an external use for it. Depending on how much Frankincense you used for the tea, you could extract the resin portion and use it in a medicated oil, salve or creme following these instructions-https://apothecarysgarden.com/2015/07/26/tapping-into-frankincense-and-its-boswellic-acids-an-easy-extraction-method/


  7. Hi.. May I know do we swallow or throw away the remaining of the white resin clumps which came from the Frankincense Water after soaking overnight? Is the clumps digestible in our intestine?


    1. Hi. I think that is a choice you can make. Some people dispose of the spent resin after infusing it in water a few times and others consume it or use it as incense. As far as digesting Frankincense and benefiting from the resin compounds that don’t dissolve in the water, there are studies that indicate the Boswellic acids and other resin compounds are better absorbed by the body when taken with fatty foods. This makes sense since the resin is not water soluble, but oil soluble.

      1. Hi.. Thankyou for ur prompt reply.. Just want to be sure.. the white clumps left on the water is the important resin which contain the boswellic acid. cos I’ve read that boswellic acid is in the resin so in my logic sense that it should be swallow but I’m not sure if the white clumps r the resin?
        ..so once I’ve soaked the Frankincense in water n after a few times, I can swallow the white clumps to get the full benefit? I’m sorry if I’m bit slow in my thoughts here.. can’t understand if the white clumps r the important resin.

      2. Hi. No worries.
        The resin and gum are both in the white Lumps. I like to think that the whole oleo gum resin is more beneficial than one isolated constituent. Even if it is the most studied compound.
        If they are soft, then yes I would chew them up or break them up a bit and consume the.. a little honey or yohhurt might help with the Flavour.
        If they are still hard then perhaps infuse them again in boiling water.

  8. Hello ,
    I’m working on the effect of boswellia gum resin in rats, I wanna ask you about the preparation of the extract, and what is the best way to give it to rats
    I am waiting for your reply. Thank You

    1. Hi Lydia.
      Here is a link to a study done out of the Jordan University of science and technology that may help answer your questions. They used an aqueous extract, which would only deliver the water soluble gum portion to the rats. If you wanted to feed them the whole oleo gum resin then I would assume you would make an extract using alcohol or a fine powder of the whole material and incorporate it in their food.
      If you wanted to study the effects of the Boswellic acids and other resin based compounds on the rats, then you could use a resin extract as described in this post-https://apothecarysgarden.com/2015/12/03/how-to-extract-the-resin-and-boswellic-acids-from-frankincense-an-improved-method/?wref=tp
      Here is a link to the Jordanian study. I hope this was of some help.

  9. I have pure frankincence oil and I would like to know if I could make a tea out of it or how to use. I had cancer and I’ve heard that it is good for healing. Please let me know asap.

    1. Hi Amy.
      My speciality is using the whole oleoresin of Frankincense. The essential oils contain only a small part of the therapeutic compounds found in Frankincense. Traditionally a tea is made from the whole frankincense resin, and some people take the powdered whole resin internally which utilizes the Boswellic acids that are not found in the essential oil.

      1. Hello. as was suggested frankinsence oil for brain cancer and couldnt get it fast and cheap, i reached an ethiopian store here and bought a bag of unclean frankinsence very cheap. it looks like that in your site , the upper picture small coloured from white to light brown yellow resin
        as i cant add here picture. strolling in this page and other pages, i grounded much of the franckinsence with a coffee grinder to thin white powder. i put 1 teaspoon in water, and alot in coconut oil. after one day i took out the covered coconut oil cup and it looks like that-hard white foam.
        i didnt touch it yet.
        i suffer from brain severe inflamation in half brain and probably cancer from dentists from upper left jaw severe killing filling 3 years.i dont use left side since then. very stresssing ache.
        anyway, i try all the time for this infection, i had put some ground frankincese in the coconut oil mixture i use with many things to disinfect, i now read more and rubbed the frankinsense powder+coconut oil so;lution on outer scalp. feels good. feels hot. the mixture with the powder with water from yesterday i didnt touch. yet.since its internal

  10. My daughter was recently stung by three hornets on her lip. These were the hornets that make large paper nests that hang in trees, not yellow jackets or ground hornets. The swelling was extensive, as you might imagine. She melted some of the “sweet” chewing frankincense in coconut oil and applied it to her lip and the swelling was unnoticeable within a few hours. My husband sent both “sweet” and “bitter” chewing frankincense, and myrrh resins home while he was working in Abu Dhabi and those are some of my most treasured herbs. The use for hornet stings is likely not a traditional use, but the anti-inflammatory properties certainly helped. Thank you for starting this page. I am very interested in hearing from those who live in areas where these resins are traditionally used about the many ways they can help with everyday issues. I use the frankincense and myrrh combined with the roots of American ginseng that we grow here to make an ointment that works very well for insect stings or any other surface infections or inflammations.

    1. Hi Madison.
      Thank you for sharing your personal and practical experience with Frankincense. Sounds like the “Sweet” Frankincense you used was Boswellia Frereana or Maydi, the traditional Arabian and African Chewing gum. This is the only Frankincense that would melt into your Coconut oil.
      Thanks as well for sharing your ointment ingredients. Not a combination I would have thought to explore! With more contributions like yours I hope to see a growing collection of traditional and non-traditional uses and recipes for these resins here.

    2. hi, i was wondering if you can tell me how exactly i can make that ointment and where to get the best ingredients, it sounds like it would be good for something i have been dealing with for the last 8 months, the so call doctors don’t know what or why i got this rash. thank you

      1. Hi Anthony.
        Here is a link to the post about making an oil extract from oleoresins. Once you dissolve the resin in the oil and filter it you can use it as is, or melt a little Bees wax into it and make it a salve.
        If this doesn’t address your question, please let me know. You might have to copy and paste the link into your browser.
        If you are looking for high quality resins to use for medicine, I have a nice selection in my Etsy shop here-https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/ApothecarysGarden.

  11. I have some Frankincense tears that I ordered from a shop in Minnesota. They didn’t specify what type it is. While I am awaiting the arrival of my delivery of F. serrata from your shop, I thought I would try some tea with these rather pale looking tears. The first time I used hot water and let it sit until it cooled. The result was very bitter and the tears had turned white and were kind of waxy. Following your instructions, I used cool water and let it sit overnight. This I am consuming in small amounts mixed with water. Not much flavor, but that’s okay – maybe a little soapy. I wonder if there is anything useful that can be done with the remaining whitish waxy tears, or is it likely that all of the medicinal properties have been leached out?
    Thank you for the wonderful information on this and your other site.

    1. Hi Denise.
      Both the hot water and cold water infusions are used to make a tea of Frankincense. I would say the cold water method likely extracts less compounds than the hot water method and thus leaves you with an abundance of untapped phytochemicals in your Frankincense tears.
      Though I list a cold infusion of Frankincense as a traditional remedy in some Arabian cultures, I have no doubt that making a hot infusion will yield more potent medicine.
      The bitter flavour is associated with the water soluble gum portion and has medicinal value.
      We are acclimatized in the West to shun bitter things. However, bitter is a very important element in eastern traditional medicinal systems and usually associated with bile production, digestion and liver function and shouldn’t be avoided. Some people add a bit of sugar or honey to the bitter Frankincense infusion and this helps it go down more easily. Also, with a very bitter product, there is no need to consume large quantities, a teaspoonful at a time stretched out over a one or two day period can be more effective than drinking a cup full at once.
      Also, after extracting the water soluble parts of any Frankincense type, you will always be left with the oleoresin portion which in most cases is where all the Boswellic acids are found. This holds many beneficial compounds that water cannot extract.

  12. I just tried resin in hot water for a hot tea, love the taste, very calming and hopefully will help my back pain as well

    1. Dan, thanks so much for your post and insights. I’ve tried the warm / hot water method. I was pushed for time, and decided to add a couple of frankincense beads to my hot expresso decaf coffee. I didn’t use instant. Rather, I put a teaspoon of the Italian ground coffee in my mug, fill it with water, add 2 pea sized frankincense beads, and then add 10% cream…which fat helps with the uptake of the frankincense. I don’t use sugar, and like the taste very much.

      I often don’t finish my coffee while it’s hot, and usually have half a cup left or more. I drank another 1/4 cup cool or cold that afternoon because I didn’t want to waste the frankincense, and the taste was delightful. I didn’t find the taste bitter at all, and it had the lovely perfumed scent that I have come to know and love from using the oil. The next day, the final 1/4 cup had the distinct scent of frankincense. The cream was still perfectly fresh, and it tasted great (my home tends to be cool in temperature, so check before you try this in your own home). I noticed that the pellets of frankincense resin had floated to the top, and were almost hollow. I didn’t throw out the frankincense, just the coffee grounds, rinsed them. I started a new cup of expresso coffee again, and added the two new small pellets along with almost hollow beads.

      I’ve been doing this for the past week, and I’ve found my memory has improved greatly. There’s been a massive flu and cold outbreak here, and I could feel my body wanting to become ill with the lymph nodes in my neck getting swollen. I’d drink my beautifully scented coffee, and within 2 hours, I’d sweat for an hour or so, and the bug was gone! AMAZING!!! And it tastes great!!

      Ken, I have had severe back pain suffered after I fractured my lower back, and had soft tissue and nerve damage in my right leg. Try grounding. The nerve damage in my right leg has finally begun to heal after nine months of horrible pain. The banding anti-static strap I use ranges in cost from $12 to $40. I have not had to take a single pain killer since I began earthing aka grounding. And the frankincense has helped further reduce the inflammation. As the grounding works, your body ‘pushes’ the pain out. So you will experience the release of the pain … like homeopathy … where you get a bit worse for a day or two and then start to get better. In only a month, i’ve had what I would consider a major improvement — and I no longer struggle to walk with a decided limp! Good luck!

  13. I made frankincense papyrifera water and then refrigerated, I made it a little over a week ago and haven’t touched it in about 3 days, it’s in a glass water jug with a tight seal. My question is this: is it ok to drink if it’s over a week? It smells the same as it did when I first started drinking it. It works for inflammation and I’ve been drinking it at night however I don’t know how long it will remain fresh in the refrigerator. I was going to drink some this morning and add more resin and more water, how do you know if it’s still good? There are still resin clumps in the bottom…

    1. Hi David. I apologize for the delay.
      My gut reaction is “when in doubt, throw it out” That being said, if there is no change in colour, texture, appearance or scent, it is likely fine but perhaps not much longer. I think the most important message from your Frankincense infusion is to make smaller batches and freeze them if there is a chance of being in the fridge longer than a week.
      So don’t add more resin and water to an already tired or almost expired concoction, you will be simply adding new nutrients to bacteria or fungi that have initiated colonization, even if they haven’t taken over yet. You have to gauge the age if your product from the day you started it and not from when you refreshed it’s water content.
      Much simpler to just make smaller batches. If you are making infusions with water there will always be chunks of resin left over since frankincense is made mostly of resin and essential oil neither which is water soluble.

  14. Dan,
    I just received some frankincense from “Sweet Essentials”. I bought it because I was told it would be good to chew to help relieve the pain of arthritis. I had never heard of this but am willing to try. Do you know of this? How much should I chew? Do you think a cup of this tea would be helpful? Thank you for your time. Vickie

    1. Hi Vickie.
      It depends which type of Frankincense it is. The Somali Frankincense frereana is the only one that is really suited for chewing and doesn’t fall apart in your mouth. Most of the frankincense types are anti inflammatory and are used externally and internally for inflammations including arthritis and inflammations of the joints. So, if it doesn’t work as a chewing gum, you can grind it to a fine powder and take 1/2 teaspoons of it a few times a day. Just swoosh it around with water in your mouth so it doesn’t clump too much. I do this regularly with only positive effects. But if you do try it, listen to your body and if you find you do not feel well in any way, then stop using it. To grind the frankincense to a fine powder see my post “How to grind Frankincense and Myrrh”. You could also try steeping a teaspoon overnight in cold water. Hope that was of some help.

  15. Salam Dan ,

    I am from Oman, one of the countries that produce Frankincense. We mostly burn it for the nice smell for our houses. But they also make chewing gum from it , and you can store it on the fridge for long period. Some people here they eat the frankincese stones directly and chew them, but you have to specify to the seller that you want it for chewing and they have specif types which are usually more white, and more expensive. Just thought of sharing this from my own experience. And thanks for the receipt, will try it today.

    1. Thank you so much Ahmed, for sharing your personal experience of Frankincense use in Oman. It is information with added value since it comes directly from an Omani.
      I believe the whiter and more expensive Frankincense, used for chewing, is likely Maydi, or Frankincense Frereana from Somalia. I hope you find the recipe to your liking. Dan

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