Few beverages are as comforting and versatile as a nice cup of tea. Just think about it: What warms you up on a chilly day? What wakes you up in the morning? What helps you relax after a long day? What soothes your stomach during a tummy ache? Tea, tea, tea and tea! While coffee may win out when it comes to giving you a daily boost of energy and focus, a cup of tea delivers an unparalleled dose of relaxation in every cup.
Of course, the best tea is good for more than just relaxing. The different leaves and blends available can be used for everything from relieving anxiety to settling an unhappy stomach. Green tea is one of the world’s leading healthy beverages as it delivers a wealth of benefits, including lowering cholesterol and preventing bad breath. Meanwhile, black tea is full of antioxidants and contains more caffeine than green tea, making it great for an early morning energy boost.
If you don’t know your oolongs from your chais, that’s okay — there’s a lot of variety out there when it comes to teas. That’s why we’re giving a primer on the best tea brands, broken down by type. Talk about spilling the tea!
If tea were to have a popularity contest, black tea would be the winner. Black teas tend to be bolder since they have more tannins. If that word sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably heard it used to describe red wine — the compound delivers a dry sensation in your mouth. Black tea has a longer oxidation process than most of its peers, during which the leaves are rolled or cut up to release the natural oils, then roasted at high heat to stop oxidation and dry them. Black tea is best served with milk or lemon.
Popular black teas include:
- Assam: Hailing from India, it’s often used as a base in chai tea and used in breakfast blends.
- Ceylon: Grown in Sri Lanka, it can have a range of flavors depending on where it’s produced, from citrus to chocolate. On the spicy side, it’s typically the main leaf in Earl Grey and popular in fruity blends.
- Earl Grey: This popular type of tea actually isn’t a variety — it’s essentially Ceylon tea with bergamot added to give it its signature distinct flavor.
- Darjeeling: There are three different growing seasons of Darjeeling in India and each has a unique flavor, from floral to strong to sweet.
- Chai: The popular blend of black teas is enhanced with different spices.
- English breakfast: The mix of black teas has a strong kick to it.
Native to Asia, this varietal takes second place in the tea popularity content. Made with a smaller leaf, green tea is unoxidized. Since it doesn’t go through the oxidation process, it retains its green color. Green teas tend to be sweeter and more delicate than black teas but can range depending on how the tea was processed.
Popular green teas include:
- Matcha: Literally translated to “powdered tea,” this is a specially grown and processed type of green tea that is finely ground into a powder.
- Sencha: Super popular in Japan, the leaves are steamed before drying to give it its signature grassy flavor.
- Bancha: Though it’s processed the same way as sencha, it is harvested later in the season, delivering its sweet yet earthy taste.
- Chun mee: Veering on the sour side, it has a strong aftertaste.
- Hojicha: This is as close to coffee as tea gets. Its hue is more red and brown than green, and it has a nutty flavor with hints of caramel.
A blend of black and green tea, oolongs originate from China and have the flavor profile of both with a full body. The leaves are semi-fermented and then go through a partial oxidation process prior to being roasted, so their type of prep allows for a wide array of flavor, from floral to fruity to spicy to earthy and beyond. When they’re lightly oxidized, they taste closer to a green tea, while a longer oxidation brings out a stronger flavor.
Popular oolong teas include:
- Tieguanyin: Especially common in the Far East, it’s sweet and floral.
- Wuyi: Its dark hue and smoky flavor are courtesy of its long roast, which is sometimes as much as 30 hours.
Made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, white teas have the least processing of the bunch since they aren’t oxidized or roasted, making them the sweetest and lightest variety. You can typically expect a white tea to be delicate and floral, and sometimes nutty.
Popular white teas include:
- Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yinzhen): Typically from the Fujian and Yunnan provinces of China, it’s made exclusively from silver-colored buds, which is where it gets its name. It has a golden color and sweet yet rich flavor with a floral scent.
- White Peony (Bai Mu Dan): Made from a blend of young tea buds and leaves, it’s pale green in color, has a full flavor and hints of florals and nuts.
- Tribute Eyebrow (Gong Mei): Grown in China’s provinces of Guangxi and Fujian, it has a bold, fruity flavor similar to oolong tea.
- Long Life Eyebrow (Shou Mei): Mostly grown in China’s Guangxi and Fujian provinces, it is harvested later than White Peony and Silver Needle white teas, giving it a darker flavor and color.
Native to the Yunnan province in China, it is a fermented tea that was traditionally used as a medicine in Asia. Also known as pu‘er, its flavor profile is earthy and rich.
Popular pu-erh teas include:
- Pu-erh green: The uncooked tea is only processed lightly before fermentation, giving it a raw, earthy flavor.
- Pu-erh black: Expect to sip a smoky and smooth tea.
To get you excited for your next tea break, we’ve put together a list of the best teas for all occasions. Take a scroll through and find the tea which best speaks to your tea-drinking needs.
1. Numi Organic Tea Golden Chai
Brew these bags right and you’ll see there’s no need to haul yourself to a coffee shop to get quality chai. This Fair Trade-certified organic blend combines Assam black tea with organic cinnamon cardamom, anise and ginger for a traditional Indian masala chai tea. Full bodied and cozy, it has a medium level of caffeine for an extra kick.
2. Harney and Sons Tea Hot Cinnamon Spice
BEST BLACK TEA
For decades, Harney and Sons has been producing some of the finest teas in the world, and their line of English tea blends, which were created in partnership with the Historic Royal Palaces, is no exception. In particular, this Hot Cinnamon Spice tea has proved to be one of the company’s most popular. Created in 1980, the blend contains Chinese black tea leaves, sweet clove, cinnamon bark and orange peel. The resulting brew is highly aromatic, naturally sweet and spicy on the palate.
3. Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Wellness Tea
BEST SLEEP-INDUCING TEA
As one of the most popular bedtime teas, Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Wellness Tea is a great choice if you struggle to fall asleep at night. The comforting tea is made from a blend of chamomile, spearmint and other herbs. Valerian root is also added to the mix to induce natural, sleepy feelings. Altogether, this tea is like a hug in a mug.
4. Tiesta Tea Lavender Chamomile
The Tiesta Tea Lavender Chamomile herbal tea is relaxation in a cup. This loose leaf tea features a blend of lavender to put you in a stress-free state and chamomile to help you feel sleepy. The flowery brew can be enjoyed hot or iced and can be prepared without sweeteners or with a dollop of honey for an indulgent cuppa.
5. Lipton Tea Bags
Lipton Tea was probably the very first black tea you ever tried. It remains one of the top teas worldwide thanks to its price to quality ratio. Each leaf inside these Lipton Tea Bags has been carefully selected to ensure it’s full of natural tea taste and the pleasing aromas drinkers have come to expect. This popular tea is also 100% natural, Rainforest Alliance-certified and ideal for use in hot or cold beverages. And, if you’re partial to Southern-style sweet tea, you can’t do better than Lipton. On Amazon, you can get more than 300 individual tea bags for under $10.
6. Bigelow Lemon Ginger Plus Probiotics Herbal Tea
BEST FOR DIGESTION
This Bigelow Lemon Ginger Plus Probiotics Herbal Tea contains a mix of lemon and ginger, making it a great choice for anyone looking to support their immune system and digestion. These tea bags are also free from caffeine and come individually wrapped for a fresher experience and easier storage options. In addition, each of these all-natural tea bags is 100% biodegradable.
7. Pukka Supreme Matcha Green
BEST GREEN TEA
If you didn’t already know, green tea is full of health benefits. From lowering your cancer risk to aiding in weight loss, there’s not much these little tea leaves can’t help you with. If you’re not already enjoying at least one cup a day of this antioxidant-filled tea, it’s time to invest in this Pukka Supreme Matcha Green Tea. It’s made with organic whole leaf green tea leaves to produce a truly fine matcha powder you’re sure to love. The tea leaves are also ethically sourced and certified by Fair for Life.
8. Teabloom Flowering Tea
BEST FOR GIFTING
Everyone knows someone who absolutely loves tea. And this Teabloom Flowering Tea is a great gift idea for them, or for yourself, as the set includes 12 different tea varieties for a range of options every time you need a cup of the good stuff. Each flowering tea comes individually wrapped to preserve its freshness and to ensure your cup is full of the flower’s delightful aromas after steeping. Plus, the tea comes in a beautiful canister which makes it gift-ready on arrival.
9. Tazo Iced Lemongrass Green Tea
BEST FOR ICED TEA
During those long, hot summer days, there’s no better way to refresh than with a jug full of delicious iced tea. Keep the Tazo Iced Lemongrass Green Tea in your cupboard for a great go-to option when you’re in need of a refresh. These green tea, lemon verbena and spearmint-containing bags are great for delivering an invigorating dose of energy any time of the day. This tea contains just the right amount of caffeine to keep you going without an unpleasant crash afterward.
10. Dona Chai Tea & Turmeric Concentrate
If you’ve ever tried recreating a delicious cup of chai at home, you’ll already know the process isn’t as simple as it seems. However, with this Dona Chai Tea & Turmeric Concentrate in your tea arsenal, the hard part has been removed. Simply add equal parts of milk and concentrate to enjoy a ginger, vanilla bean and ground cinnamon-containing beverage. You’re not likely to forget this delicious tea latte anytime soon.
11. Palais des Thés Herbal Blends
BEST TEA BLEND
What’s great about tea blends is that they allow you to take the best part of several different herbs to create a delicious new brew. This Palais des Thés herbal blends are no exception. There are eight different blends to choose from, depending on what you’re looking for in your cup. Try the Thé des Lords for an intense bergamot flavor or the Thé du Hammam for a fruit-filled option. Each blend also comes in its own attractive, color-coded tin, making these teas a great gift idea for tea-loving friends.
12. Maisson Boissier Parisian French Loose Tea
BEST LOOSE LEAF TEA
This Maisson Boissier Parisian French Loose Tea comes in two different varieties: black and green. Each of these loose leaf teas is packaged in a beautiful pink tin which is worthy of sitting pride of place in your kitchen. In the green tea version of this tea, you’ll find gorgeous flowers in the blend, which give this tea delightful fruit, rose and blueberry aromas. Meanwhile, the black loose leaf can be compared to a luxurious hot chocolate with hints of vanilla. Whatever tea you choose, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed.
13. Vahdam Teas Turmeric Tea Tales
If you don’t trust us that the Vahdam Teas Turmeric Tea Tales is worth your time and money, maybe Oprah can convince you. The attractive was named as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things 2019 and has rave reviews from everyone’s favorite tea-loving TV host. The set includes two different tea varieties, including ginger masala chai and Maharani chai-spiced oolong tea. The loose-leaf tea set also comes presented in a beautiful box, making it a great gift idea for tea-loving friends and family.
14. Kusmi Tea – Essentials Sampler Pack
Kusmi Tea was founded in St. Petersburg, Russia in the 19th Century, but the brand fled to Paris after the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Still headquartered in Paris more than a century later, Kusmi makes premium tea with a variety of tasty blends and spices. If you’re trying this brand for the first time, the Kusmi Tea Essentials Sampler Pack is a great place to start. As a gift or for yourself, this set comes with 24 of the brand’s most popular teas. Boil a cuppa and enjoy soothing herbal teas, delicious chai, and classic Earl Gray in eco-friendly muslin tea bags.