by Dan Riegler November 29, 2023 7 min read 12 Comments

A Traditional Frankincense Tea

Frankincense tea, also known as a Frankincense infusion, is a time-honoured remedy in many cultures. Some of its traditional uses have been researched in recent years and I am surprised to see that many of the classic therapeutic properties associated with Frankincense tea are substantiated in the laboratory. I have listed a few here, but trust you to do your own research as well.


What is a traditional Frankincense Tea?

 A traditional Frankincense "Tea" is a simple overnight infusion of Frankincense tears in water that creates a partial emulsion. It is a time-honoured remedy in many cultures and has broad therapeutic applications, is easy to make at home and puts less stress on trees that are already burdened by our demand for Frankincense essential oil.

Sorting Frankincense-Northern Kenya

Sorting Frankincense in Northern Kenya

Not the essential oil

Our recent obsession with Frankincense essential oil can easily blind us to the plethora of therapeutic compounds found in the whole oleo gum resin and is no doubt increasing the pressure we are putting on trees that are already over-harvested and over-burdened with our growing demand for Frankincense essential oil. Remember, there are no Boswellic acids in the essential oil of Frankincense. These therapeutic compounds are left behind after distilling the essential oil.

traditional Frankincense tea

Frankincense Tears, tea and leftover resin. 

 Traditional therapeutic benefits of Frankincense

Frankincense tea has a broad range of traditional therapeutic applications..

  • As a sexual tonic and aphrodisiac
  • To increase fertility in men and women.
  • To stimulate brain function, memory and intelligence
  • As a home remedy for coughs, colds and congestion
  • To reduce the pain and inflammation associated with Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • As a treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Alleviating respiratory complaints such as Asthma and Bronchitis.
  • To treat diabetes.
  • To ease the irritation of urinary tract inflammations

A teaspoon of Frankincense tears steeped overnight in tepid water is a traditional healing formula that has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. Placing Frankincense or Myrrh species resins in the day's drinking water is a custom practiced from Arabia to Africa.


Tapping a Frankincense tree

Frankincense Carterii harvest Ufeyn Eastern Bari district Somalia. Photo credit M. Nur Warsami.

Frankincense tears-Oleo-Gum-Resins -Luban

Most Frankincense tears are oleo gum resins. When the tree is tapped they exude as an homogeneous emulsion and blend of resin, essential oil, gum and water. The essential oils act as a solvent for the resins as the water does for the gum. These solvents make the material fluid and mobile. As the essential oils and water evaporate, the tears harden. Seeing these milky-white drops appear on the freshly tapped tree, it is easy to see why Frankincense got its name of Luban and Olibanum. The root of the word Luban is Semitic and means white. 



An infusion of Frankincense tears steeped overnight in water is a traditional remedy for many ailments

How to prepare Frankincense tea

The traditional ratio of Frankincense granules to water is about a teaspoon of tears  to 4 cups or a litre of water. 

  • Place a teaspoon of Frankincense tears in a container. Large tears should be crushed or broken down with a mortar or pestle, or by putting the tears in a Ziploc bag and bruising them with a hammer.  Do not powder them. Lentil to pea size is ideal.
  • Add 4 cups, (1000 Milliliters) of room-temperature water. 
  • Cover the container with a saucer or plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.
  • In the morning pour off some of the liquid into a cup or glass as needed.
  • Sip it throughout the next day.
  • If you prepare too much you can keep it in the fridge for a day or two.
  • If you want to prepare a larger amount for future use, freeze it in ice cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Thaw them as needed. they should keep well for up to 6 months.
  • Remember, traditional use suggests consuming small amounts throughout the day. It is likely more beneficial to consistently drink a cup or two slowly throughout the day than to consume large quantities over a short period.
  • Listen to your body, and don’t overdo it. Tempting as it might be...
  • Usually, the tears can be infused in water at least once more and will still colour the water.
  • When they are spent and the water no longer turns whitish, they can be consumed or burned as incense and a new batch prepared.
  • The known side effects of consuming too much Frankincense are digestive discomfort, if you experience digestive discomfort in any way, take a break and moderate your intake.
    Residue after infusing Frankincense tears

      Above-The residue after an overnight infusion of Frankincense tears in water. This material can be used for the next night's infusion.

      Which types of Frankincense are best suited to making a traditional tea?

      Not all Frankincense types are suited to this type of preparation. Some Frankincense resins have no water-soluble gum and will not create an emulsion or break down when steeped in water. 

      Different types of Frankincense

      Some types of Frankincense are suited to preparing a traditional Frankincense tea, and others are not.

      The following species of Frankincense are the best suited and the most popular types for this application and contain water soluble gum. They all appear as "tears" Click on the name below to purchase some and for a more detailed description of each type in the shop.

      In Oman, Frankincense Sacra-Royal green Hojari tears are considered to be the best in general and traditionally used for medicine. That being said, I find all the above types seem to work quite well with minor variations in aroma and flavour.
      Royal Green Hojari Frankincense
      Above-Frankincense Sacra-Sultan's choice-Royal green Hojari, Oman. Some types of Frankincense are suited to preparing Frankincense tea, and others are not. Royal Green Hojari Frankincense is traditionally reserved for medicine and tea in Oman.

      Frankincense types not suitable for teas

      Though Frankincense Rivae, Neglecta and Frereana contain many therapeutic compounds, their lack of water-soluble gum means their resin acids will not be delivered through an emulsion.

      Frankincense Frereana

      Boswellia/Frankincense Frereana-Somalia. Known as Maydi, Frankincense Frereana has no water-soluble gum which makes it ideal for its traditional use as a long-lasting and healthy chewing gum, but ineffective in a tea. Though Maydi contains little to no Boswellic acids, it has its own set of therapeutic compounds

      Can I add Myrrh to my Frankincense tea?

      The answer is yes, in moderation. There is a synergistic relationship between Frankincense and Myrrh, (Please look it up), and for this reason you will often find them used in traditional formulas together. Keep in mind that the root of the Word Myrrh, is Mar which means bitter. Be prepared for a very bitter brew.

      Myrrh tree giving us its Suhul Myrrh

      Look it up

      Put in the time to research everything! We now share a vast brain online, if you can read this post then you can also spend a few minutes looking at research papers, formulas and studies about Frankincense. Take responsibility for educating yourself.


      Some tips for your tea

      A recent privately funded study shows that the water will absorb more of the Boswellic acids if the PH level is brought up to 11-12. This can done with a small amount of baking soda and Litmus papers.

      Though the amount of Boswellic acids absorbed by the water is not a lot compared to the solid resin or commecial extract, it is an easily assimilated form and the body absorbs more of the Boswellic acids than ingesting an extract of pure Boswellic acids.

      The study showed that a tea can be prepared twice from the tears and that a third infusion contains a negligible amount of Boswellic acids. 

      A bit of Scientific research

      Laboratory studies of the tea, infusion or aqueous extract/solution of Frankincense support many of the traditional uses. Below, are a few of the studies I came across. I urge you to do your own research. An online query such as “Frankincense tea” or ”Frankincense infusion” won’t yield many results. However, if you phrase your search, “Aqueous solution  or Aqueous extract of Boswellia, or something similarly scientific,  you will be well rewarded.

      I have by no means collated everything there is, but a few hours searching proved fruitful and educational. The potential benefits of a simple tea of Frankincense are extensive and yet to be fully explored. Here are a few. I would be very pleased if any of my readers posted other related studies in the comments for everyone's edification.

      Studies like these remind me how much we don’t yet know about nature, our bodies and diseases. There is so much more for us all to learn. It also tells me that our obsession with taking things apart and consuming individual active compounds, ( such as essential oils), is likely to our detriment, that of the land and the plant species that give us our medicine.

      If this type of traditional tea is used in your culture or family, leave me a note in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

      This is an updated version of a popular post that was originally published in 2017.


      Dan Riegler Apothecary's Garden

      Dan Riegler is an Herbal Apothecary, Artisan, formulator, distiller and advocate for sustainable management of our aromatic and medicinal plants. A lover of Nature, he is a friend to trees and a sap for resins. Dan travels regularly to Kenya and Ethiopia to meet with Frankincense harvesters and purchase fresh Frankincense and Myrrh resins directly from them.

      Apothecary's Garden provides an ever-growing selection of fresh & fair trade, ethical and sustainably harvested medicinal and aromatics including Frankincense and Myrrh, local and exotic fragrance materials, artisan distilled essential oils, natural perfume ingredients and animal essences. Apothecary's Garden shop also showcases Dan's aromatic, cosmetic and therapeutic preparations, salves, cremes, tinctures and oils, as well as those of Guest artisans from around the world. 

      The Blog, Apothecary's Garden is a journal about Herbs, plants and processes, recipes, plant Alchemy, traditional wisdom and our Relationship with Nature.

      12 Responses


      January 17, 2024

      Thanks Sara!!


      January 17, 2024

      Thank you joyce!


      January 01, 2024

      I am very grateful for the fantastic information, thank you to all people for their research and hard work that made possible this article . I love frankincense since I was a child going to church and they will burn it as incense. Thanks

      Yvonne brown
      Yvonne brown

      December 10, 2023

      Thanks for the information

      Wanda Redd
      Wanda Redd

      December 07, 2023

      Like to learn more about natural herbs and teas that can heal your body. I have arthritis found myalgia and a lot of pain, empty my body, like to know more about healing the natural way.


      December 07, 2023

      Frankincense is magical and generous… and so are you. Thank you for this educational invitation to make tea. 🌹

      Colleen Cunningham
      Colleen Cunningham

      December 04, 2023

      Need to try …

      Sharlene Dunaway
      Sharlene Dunaway

      December 04, 2023

      I want to learn more on more natural products and healing


      December 04, 2023

      Thank you Dan for sharing your time, effort, and wisdom with the world!
      I thought I was going crazy when I couldn’t find one of your blog posts from a while back but quickly realized you’ve been updating and re-uploading them. Please continue to do so as your blogs are better put together and included more of the critical / important information than anywhere else I’ve found!
      I’m not sure if Gail will see this, but anyone that wants to buy these things- they can be purchased right here on dans shop. Granules are just the result of breaking down bigger pieces. (I will note, in my limited experience-Bigger prices store longer / loose less of the sensitive constituents on the inside, but might need to be broken down before use, you don’t need to buy it in granules, just read dans blog on how to grind and process resins)

      Gail brooks
      Gail brooks

      December 03, 2023

      How can I buy these granules?


      December 03, 2023

      This is fascinating since i’ve always love frankincense on high holy days. i was always attracted to it. this maybe what i need right now so i will find out more information so thank you. it seems coincidental but it might be a godsend?


      December 01, 2023

      Thank you! I am very interested in the use of raw incense materials as medicine, so I was very happy to see this article. I appreciate the time it took to gather the information. I do love your website.

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