This Tea is "For the Birds"
If you've ever wondered how you can use herbal tea to strengthen your relationship with your feathered friends, you're not alone. Avian tea is becoming more popular with savvy bird owners and that has everything to do with the prevalence of social media and how it has given us a forum to celebrate our companion animals.
YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and the like are loaded with photos and videos chronicling the adventures of pets and their people. Fans of these accounts have daily opportunities not only to find entertainment, but to learn from one another and improve the way they care for their animals. It is in this way that I, personally, was turned on to the concept of sharing herbal tea with my birds.
Disclaimer: The information below comes from a combination of personal experience, veterinary consultation, scientific publications, and my own herbal certification studies. I am not a veterinarian. Please consult yours before making changes to your pet's diet.
What Marlene Started
A few years back, during my summer break as a teacher, I stumbled onto Marlene Mc'Cohen's YouTube channel. Marlene has posted over 150 videos related to birds, their personalities, and their care. After binge watching for who knows how long, I came across this:
In this video, Marlene shares tips about watching TV with your birds and comments on having to keep bird-friendly snacks nearby. These suggestions included keeping some water due to their tendency to want to share in your own goodies which, in Marlene's case, included a cup of tea. This left me wondering: would it actually be safe for a bird to drink tea? That's when the fun really began.
With my notebook and pen in hand, I set off to scour the web for answers and, as it turned out, making herbal tea for birds was actually "a thing!" I learned that there were countless bird-friendly herbal ingredient lists to cross-reference and immersed myself in scientific articles which taught me how birds (and other animals) utilized herbs and flowers in the wild. It wasn't long before I was convinced; I had to try this for myself. I'm always looking for ways to build bonds with my pets and being able to share a drink with my birds sounded like a lot of fun.
The First Three Ingredients
Full disclosure. At that point in my life I was NOT a tea drinker. The extent of my experience with tea was the occasional cup brewed from those store-bought black tea pouches (you know the ones). Mom would steep for me with some honey when I was sick as a child and I despised every drop. As an adult, warm beverages still made me cringe but my curiosity got the best of me and I started shopping.
I decided I would only use organic ingredients to keep my birds safe from pesticides and ultimately chose to begin with rose petals, red raspberry leaf, and hibiscus flowers. I mixed them together, brewed them up, took a sip, and bam - I was hooked!
Where have you been all my life?!
It was amazing. I was drinking hot, pink, flower-flavored water and loving it. The real question, though, was if the birds would feel as strongly as I did about this new concoction. I diluted a bit of the brew with some fresh, cold water and poured it into a bowl. My parrotlet, Pops, was the first to check it out. He approached the pink liquid, studied it for a bit and then dipped his beak in as I watched in anticipation.
Will he like the tea? Its he going to reject it? Is this what it feels like to be judged on a cooking challenge?
Well - not only did Pops approve of the blend, but he must have also decided that herbal tea makes a luxurious bath because, the next thing I knew, he had thrown his whole body into the bowl and was bathing in it! Winning! We celebrated our new recipe by brewing more for the rest of the flock and sharing the love. Some were skeptical of their "pink water," at first. Eventually, though, everyone gave it a try and I was so happy with the results that I went back to my notes to determine what would come next.
But is it Good for My Bird?
Just like with our own diets, certain options have the potential to help while others can be harmful. Teas are no exception. Here are some of my notes:
Rule number one - be sure that what you're using contains absolutely no caffeine. Bird hearts beat fast enough and the increased heart rate that accompanies caffeine consumption can be overwhelming and, at times, deadly.
Rule number two - everything in moderation. It's been known for centuries that herbs can embody certain properties that make them amazing for keeping the body healthy. There are lots of things in the average human diet that can be beneficial, that is, until you overdo it. This applies to herbal teas, as well (especially for birds).
Some herbs are more mild while others are incredibly potent. Herbs must be chosen with care and your own pet's constitution and overall health need to be strongly considered before deciding which herbs are best suited to them. This is just another reason why it is wise to involve your veterinarian in their dietary decisions.
I always recommend starting by offering a diluted version of your chosen herbal tea and monitoring your bird's health and behavior before increasing the concentration. Additionally, remember that avian teas are not a substitute for your pet's water. Birds should always have their regular water source available to them.
Now, for the good stuff - In conservative amounts, herbal tea becomes not just a treat for our companions, but an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more! Here are some examples:
More informational cards can be found by following Posh City Pets on Instagram.
Sharing is Caring
Herbal teas have become a staple for all of my birds, big and small. By making sure they have access to a fresh, well-balanced diet, I've enjoyed the company of healthy birds with beautiful plumage. As a small business, we're proud to share some of our favorite creations with you on our Etsy shop. The fun doesn't stop there, though.
Since 2019, we've been collaborating with Marlene Mc'Cohen and have developed some amazing blends for your birds to enjoy. Jersey's Birthday Blend and Vinny's Brew and several others are currently available on ParrotStation.com. Jersey's blend combines the flavors of chamomile, red raspberry leaf, and hibiscus while Vinny's is a bold blend of peppermint and rose petals. Both have become favorites over here and both taste incredible!
Have you ever considered using herbal tea for your own birds? If you'd like more ideas on how you can use herbal teas to enhance you bird's care, be sure to check out this post: Five Fun Uses for Avian Tea.