CAN BIRDS DRINK TEA?
Short answer – YES! As long as it’s the right kind.
Disclaimer: The information found below comes from a combination of personal experience, herbalist studies, veterinary consultation and internet research on pet wellness from sources I’ve found trustworthy over the past 20+ years. I am not a veterinarian. Please consult yours if you are seeking to treat an ailing pet.
We’re sure you already know that drinking tea can provide an entire host of healthy benefits to you and your family but have you ever thought about adding tea to your bird’s diet? If not, it’s time you considered it! Avian Tea can be used as a stress remedy, an immunity booster, a vitamin supplement and more.
IS TEA BIRD-SAFE?
Tea is safe for birds, caffeine is not. Regular black, white, and green tea leaves contain caffeine and, therefore, should NEVER be offered to your feathered friends. Decaffeinated teas should also be avoided unless you know the decaffeination process did not involve chemicals that could potentially be harmful to your pet.
The safest teas to offer your birds are those which are naturally caffeine-free, such as herbal teas and blends that are specifically developed for avian consumption. Be sure to check ingredients carefully when using tea intended for humans and always continue to offer fresh water in conjunction with the teas.
When choosing the best ingredients for your bird, organic is always best. Our birds have incredibly sensitive systems and organic ingredients are always preferable to ingredients from crops that have been treated with chemical fertilizers and/or pesticides.
Choosing human-grade ingredients is also a big plus! Ingredients processed for pet products aren‘t often subject to the same quality control as those we consume ourselves. Select your ingredients with care.
Some of the more popular teas that have been shown to be bird-friendly are:
Red Raspberry Leaf
How to Prepare Avian Tea
As with other herbal teas, personal preference will often dictate how you choose to prepare yours. Begin by offering your bird a brew that is cool and diluted. Sometimes the tea color is attractive to birds, other times, they can be unsure.
In our home, we scoop 1 teaspoon of Whatcha Brewin’? Avian Tea into the infusing cup of our teapot. Water is brought to a boil in a separate pot or kettle. Before steeping, the tea is first “rinsed” with a bit of the boiled water through the infuser (over the sink) to “wake” the leaves. We then return the cup to our teapot and steep the leaves and petals in the hot water for approximately five minutes. Leaves and petals are removed and tea is allowed to cool to at least room temperature before using. Those leaves can be dried on a paper towel and be fed or re-brewed the next day to prevent waste. And guess what!? Avian tea isn’t just for drinking!!!
Read on to learn some of the wonderful ways you can use Avian tea at home with your birds.
USES FOR AVIAN TEA
There are several ways to help your pet enjoy the natural benefits of avian teas. I’ve tried all of the methods listed below and have found that (in a flock as varied as mine) certain birds prefer to have their teas in very specific ways. Below, you’ll find a few of the tricks I’ve learned for using tea to maintain the good health of my feathered friends.
The most instinctual use for avian tea is as a supplement to your bird’s drinking water. Birds are often cautious about new additions to their cage and diet. It’s important to monitor your bird’s water consumption when offering avian tea. Always leave a bowl of clean fresh water as an option for your bird just in case it isn’t quite ready to experiment with new drink flavors.
When introducing a new tea, I’ve found the most successful way is to dilute the tea with fresh water. Birds will often fail to recognize a new tea as something they should be drinking so I like to make it look as close to their normal water as possible for the first couple of days. As time goes by, I will increase the tea to water ratio. Keep in mind that avian tea is meant to be an addition and not a replacement for fresh water. Once my birds recognize that tea is tasty and safe, I often offer it in a smaller container (next to their water) for the birds to drink at leisure. Tea should not be left out longer than you would leave fresh, soft foods.
Variety is the spice of life. When offering herbal ingredients, it is best to have several available to rotate. This helps train your bird to accept different flavors and textures while avoiding an overconcentration of certain vitamins or minerals that might throw off a balanced diet. Everything in moderation!
One last trick I find entertaining works especially well for larger birds like parrots and conures. If your bird spends a lot of time outside of the cage, it likely follows you and tries to mimic what you do, including eating and drinking. Often times, simply pretending to drink the tea yourself (or ACTUALLY drinking it) will convince your bird that the tea is desirable and will make them curious enough to try!
PELLET AND FORMULA SOAK
For birds who enjoy a mushy meal, avian tea (diluted or full-strength) can be used to substitute the water used for soaking their food. A sprinkle of avian tea can add a pleasant flavor and aroma to otherwise boring pellets which might make them more attractive to your bird. Dehydrated veggies also reach a whole new level when their re-hydrated with bird-friendly tea.
For sick birds, I’ve had to resort to feeding with baby hand feeding formula and have found that substituting the water with herbal tea known for boosting immunity offers great recovery results! Note: I do not recommend trying the same trick with babies. Their food is carefully formulated for healthy growth and we don't want to mess with that.
Many birds opt to eat flowers and leaves in the wild and will immediately take to having dry avian tea added to their diets. Tea leaves can be scooped straight from the package and either added to dry food, mixed with fresh chop (an especially useful tip for those last shreds of tea at the bottom of the bag), served in a separate container, added to foraging toys, or sprinkled over the cage floor. As with any treat, use avian teas in moderation to avoid upsetting a balanced diet.
Bonus tip: Spent herbs from your brewed tea can be dried and served as snack the next day!
Try inviting your bird out onto a table to learn which leaves and flowers he or she most prefers!
SCENTED BATH OR MIST
One of my favorite uses for Avian Teas is as a therapeutic bath or mist. My birds won’t hesitate to throw themselves headfirst into a bowl of anything I place into their cages. Teas with calming / healing properties like lavender, chamomile and calendula are fantastic for adding to bath water. It’s also great for filling a fine mister for spraying. This can be especially beneficial for birds that may pluck or be experiencing skin irritations. Bonus! It adds a very pleasant scent to your bird’s environment.
For a mist, I recommend diluting your already brewed tea to about 1/4 strength with filtered water. Add this to a misting bottle and let your bird enjoy a scented and soothing shower. Keep in mind that, due to the organic nature of the tea, leftover formula should be disposed of or refrigerated (no longer than 48 hrs.).
For a bath, I prefer diluting the tea to about half strength and offering it in a shallow bowl for my birds to jump and bathe in. Once again, remove the bath at the end of the day to avoid spoilage.
*** Use careful consideration when choosing herbs for use as sprays or baths. Many floral ingredients are appropriate for this use but avoid those that might irritate the eyes. Strong blends, like peppermint, or those with spices such as cinnamon or ginger are best left for eating and drinking. Our Calm and Comfy blend is lovely for mists and baths and has even been reported to have been a part of a therapeutic regimen that has helped a lovely African Grey recover from chronic plucking.
FORGING TOY FILLER
Just because your bird has cleaned out their favorite foraging toy doesn't mean all hope is lost! Avian tea makes a great replacement for your traditional fillers. Dried herbals are crunchy, colorful and fragrant - which makes them a fantastic and healthy substitute for other fillers!
In our home, we like to mix one part fortified seed mix, one part Tops pellets, one part avian tea, and one part Veggie Mix dehydrated vegetables. Fill foraging toys as usual or make your own by folding the blend into a brown paper bag or a small cardboard box for your bird to tear apart!
WHATCHA BREWIN'? AVIAN TEA
Here at Posh City, we’ve developed our own line of avian teas that we use on a daily basis. My personal favorite is our “Rosy Reboot” formula because it’s pretty darn tasty! Rosy Reboot is blended with Organic Hibiscus, Rose, and Red Raspberry Leaf and brews to a lovely shade of pink. Among other things, it’s great for an immunity boost.
Want to stretch those dollars? Avian tea can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours so there’s no need to immediately toss unused brew. I like to pour extra tea into a water bottle and keep it in the fridge at all times. Take that a bit further by using the brewed tea (and maybe some leaves) to fill ice cube trays. You can serve melting cubes as a refreshing treat in your outdoor aviary!
Bonus! Tea leaves removed from the steeping water can be dried on paper towels and reused the next day!
ARE YOU READY TO TRY AVIAN TEA?