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 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 has 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 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.
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 when brewed.
- 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.
Herbal teas are excellent for tea drinkers who prefer to avoid caffeine, as you can get a lot of flavor without the jitters. Herbal teas are typically flavored with fruits, vegetables, herbs (duh) and other flavors that don’t come with caffeine. Many of them are a mix of a multitude of flavors, and can be drunk all day in large amounts without the concern for a caffeine crash in the afternoon.
Popular herbal teas include:
- Chamomile Tea: Known for its calming effects, chamomile tea has been studied as a helpful sleep aid in humans and may have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects as well.
- Peppermint Tea: Peppermint tea is one of the most commonly drunk herbal teas in the world, and may help support the digestive tract when consumed strategically.
- Ginger Tea: Ginger tea is known for its spicy, full flavor and powerful antioxidant properties. It may help relieve symptoms of nausea, especially among first trimester pregnant women, and may also help relieve aches and pains in the body.
Native to the Yunnan province in China, this 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. VAHDAM India Bloom Sampler Set
BEST FOR GIFTING
If you’re shopping for gifts for women, your wife or tea lovers of any gender, then we highly recommend the decorative Bloom Sampler set from VAHDAM India. This Oprah-approved brand makes delicious teas harvested from Indian tea plantations, and this gorgeous gift set comes with some of the company’s most popular tea flavors. VAHDAM was started in India by a 23-year-old entrepreneur whose family has been immersed in the tea industry for four generations.
2. Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Herbal 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.
3. 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.
4. Lipton Black 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 its 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 600 individual tea bags for under $20.
5. VAHDAM Masala Chai Tea
VAHDAM India is a tea brand beloved for its genuine Indian tea leaves and chai recipes. VAHDAM has also committed to eco-friendly growing and shipping practices, so this is truly tea you can feel good about. The brand’s traditional masala chai tea is available in both loose-leaf and pyramid tea bags. The recipe contains fragrant crushed cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper.
6. Twinings Tea Bags Sampler
This tea sampler from Twinnings comes with 48 (yes, 48!) different kinds of tea inside, so if you’re unsure of your favorite flavor this should help clear it up. Flavors including everything from your standards like Natural Green Tea and Earl Grey to Chai Spiced Apple, Orange & Cinnamon Spice and Darjeeling as well. This sampler pack would make a great gift for a college student to stock their dorm room, or a tea newbie looking to try as many flavors as possible.
7. Dilmah Premium Single Origin 100% Pure Ceylon Tea
Grown in Sri Lanka, Ceylon tea is found in a variety of black tea blends, such as Earl Grey. You can certainly use the Dilmah Premium Single Origin 100% Pure Ceylon Tea to make your own blends at home, but its slightly peppery flavor makes it a pleasure to drink pure as well. When shopping for Ceylon, be sure to check out the Dilmah brand, which remains one of the largest and most popular after several decades. That’s because they use a traditional method of farming and tea making to ensure the freshest tea finds its way into every single cup.
8. Twinings Tea Pure White Fujian Chinese
BEST WHITE TEA
Delicate and floral, white teas are not oxidized or roasted, giving them a sweeter and lighter profile than most other types of tea. White tea is also made only from the choicest of unopened tea buds and young tips, meaning it’s usually quite a bit more expensive than a box of black or green tea. But, the price is totally worth it if you pick up a pack of this Twinings Tea Pure White Fujian Chinese. Grown in China’s Fujian Province, this tea only needs to be steeped for two minutes to produce its earthy yellow hue and a beverage you’re sure to enjoy.
9. Southern Breeze Cold Brew Blackberry Sweet Tea
BEST FOR ICED TEA
This pre-sweetened black tea from Southern Breeze is made to be brewed cold, and is perfect if you want a refreshing, caffeinated beverage in the summertime. It brews in cold water and requires no heat whatsoever. It contains no calories, carbs or sugar and can be ready in five minutes or less.
10. Harney and Sons Tea Hot Cinnamon Spice
BEST BLACK TEA
For decades, Harney and Sons have 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.
11. 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.
12. Jinglong Tea Factory Pu-erh Tea
If you’ve never tried pu-erh tea before, you’re in for a shock. This tea is actually fermented in bricks or discs for many years, giving it a very earthy aroma that you might find off-putting at first. However, the taste is divine, and the tea is known to help with digestive issues, too. In fact, the Chinese and the Taiwanese proudly sell pu-erh tea like fine wine in specialty shops. Older teas are displayed behind glass cases and can be very expensive. But, you can now enjoy this magical tea at home with the Jinglong Tea Factory Pu-erh Tea. You’ll get several discs of tea in a bamboo tube. Simply break off a piece of the disc and brew it like a loose leaf tea. In total, this pack of tea makes 80 cups.
13. FGO Store Organic Oolong Tea Bags
For a good oolong tea, look no further than the FGO Store Organic Oolong Tea Bags. The USDA Organic certified tea is grown in China and then shipped to California where it is placed inside hemp fiber paper tea bags. These bags are free of dyes, glue and bleach, ensuring your cup of tea makes the least impact on the environment and keeps you healthy at the same time. Here’s a tip: a good oolong tea can be brewed several times. It will result in a different flavor profile each time, so don’t throw away your tea bag after the first use. Keep brewing with it until you no longer enjoy the taste.
14. 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.
15. Yogi Tea DeTox Tea
Because tea and herbal infusions are such powerful substances full of natural antioxidants and vitamins, it can be very helpful if you’re trying to detoxify your body. The Yogi Tea DeTox Tea is designed to do just that. It includes a traditional Ayurvedic spice blend of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and pepper known as “trikatu.” This blend has been used for centuries to flush toxins out of the body. In addition, Yogi Tea has also added dandelion and burdock to support healthy cleansing of your digestive system. The resulting herbal infusion is caffeine-free, vegan and kosher with zero sweeteners.
16. Tetley Premium Decaffeinated Black Tea
The British know their way around a cup of tea. In fact, the country drinks about 60 billion cups of tea a year. And, Tetley Premium Black Tea stands firmly among the most popular brands in the UK. While you could buy normal Tetley tea, we’re partial to their decaf version, purely because finding a decaf black tea can be hard to do. The tea itself is robust and slightly on the bitter side. You may only need to steep the bag for a minute to arrive at a tea strong enough to tickle your tastebuds. If you really want to drink it like the British, add a splash of milk once you’ve removed the tea bag.
17. 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.
18. Palais des Thes 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 The des Lords for an intense bergamot flavor or the The 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. Pure Leaf Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder
BEST TEA POWDER
Pure Leaf is best known for their widely available bottled iced teas, but they also make tea products that allow you to brew at home. This Matcha powder from Pure Leaf is a great option for cost-conscious consumers who also want a high-quality product. The finely ground matcha is 100% organic, and the bag has enough powder for up to 100 servings. The tea comes in an easy to open and resealable kraft bag.
23. Stash Tea Bags Sampler Assortment Box
If you love sampling new teas, this set from Stash is worth considering. There are 52 teas in total and 29 different flavors, including a mix of herbal, black and green teas. Classics like Earl Grey and English Breakfast are included, along with more unique options like Acai Berry and Mango Passionfruit.
24. Taylors of Harrogate Tea Variety Box, 48 Count
Taylors of Harrogate is a reputed English tea brand with a history dating back to the late 1800s, and this gift set is a great option for any tea lover. The flavors are pretty classic — in addition to distinctly British options like English Breakfast and Earl Grey, flavors like Green Tea with Jasmine and Peppermint are included.
25. Honest Tea Organic Fair Trade Just Black Tea
BEST ICED TEA
Making iced tea at home is easy enough, but sometimes you don’t want to wait for your tea to cold brew or cool down. In that case, you might enjoy keeping a few bottles of Honest Tea around. They’re organic and Fair Trade certified. 12 bottles of unsweetened black tea are included in this listing.
26. Ahmad Tea 25 Teabag Caddy Gift Tin
If it wasn’t clear that Ahmad Tea is an English tea brand, perhaps the red phonebox-inspired tin will tip you off. The phonebox design also makes this a better gift than the standard cardboard tea boxes — they’ll want to hold onto the tin long after the tea is gone. The tin contains 25 bags of English Breakfast.
27. China Mist Passion Fruit Black Iced Tea Bags
BEST TROPICAL FLAVOR
This Passion Black Fruit Tea flavor from China Mist is naturally sweet, and has a fruit-forward flavor with a clean and crisp finish. It’s formulated for a rich brew every time, and each tea bag produces up to a half gallon of wonderfully brewed tea, making it an economical purchase as well.
28. Bigelow Seasonal Flavor 6-Pack Variety Pack
BEST SEASONAL PICK
Who doesn’t love a nice seasonal tea flavor? Gingerbread? Peppermint Bark? Pumpkin Spice? They’re all winners in our minds, and this seasonal variety pack from Bigelow is perfect for stocking up before the holidays. It’s got all your favorite seasonal tea flavors for the fall/winter and holiday season, and there are teas for morning, noon and night as well.
29. Tea Drops Sweetened Loose Leaf Sampler
This adorable set from Tea Drops comes in a decorative wooden box and includes eight servings of loose leaf tea. “Loose leaf” isn’t exactly right, though they aren’t in tea bags, either. Instead, the tea drops are packed into star and heart-shaped pucks using pressure and sugar. Simply put hot water, add one of the drops, stir, and you’ve got tea.
30. Hu-Kwa – Mark T. Wendell Tea Company
As self-proclaimed tea connoisseurs, we like to think we know a thing or two about tea. Black, white, green, oolong, herbal, we’ve tried a lot of varieties over the years. So when Mark T. Wendell sent us a sampler of teas to try, we figured we’d come across the usual, maybe find a new favorite type of green or black tea, and go about our lives. Wow, were we wrong. Within that variety pack sat a tin of Hu-Kwa, a best-seller for the company and a type of tea that we had never tasted before. Technically a Lapsang Souchong-style tea, this black tea is dried over a pine fire to give it a smoky nose and taste. For you whisky lovers out there, imagine a cup of Lagavulin, but warm and cozy and energizing. It is, frankly, delicious.
After decades of dedicated tea drinking, we can confidently say we’re shocked to find something truly different. This is a must-try tea. And one that will quickly become your go-to drink in the mornings.
Updates: This shopping guide was last updated on July 27, 2022. After conducting additional taste testing, we replaced Numi Organic Tea Golden Chai with VAHDAM Organic Masala Chai Tea as our pick for the “Best Chai”. In addition, we moved Lipton Black Tea Bags and the Twinnings Tea Variety Pack higher up in the guide based on reader feedback. Finally, we added an additional option, the VAHDAM Bloom Tea Sampler Set as our “Best for Gifting” pick.