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Best Teas

Updated June 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 42 Models Considered
  • 7 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 155 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best tea

    Last Updated June 2018

    Coffee might be the caffeinated drink of choice for most Americans, but there's certainly a place in our hearts (and our kitchen cupboards) for tea.

    Whether you're trying to cut back on caffeine or you simply like the taste, it's always time for tea.

    The variety of teas on the market can be baffling, however. Which is the right type to choose? How should you prepare it?

    We at BestReviews intend to answer all these questions and more! We test products, gather information from experts, and talk to a wide range of customers in order to create our in-depth shopping guides and matrices.

    So whether you like it hot or iced, sweet or sugarless, read on for our full guide to tea and discover how to find the right kind for you.

    Tea should be stored in a tightly sealed container to keep it fresh as long as possible.

    Tea in all its forms

    The first thing to decide is what form you'll buy your tea in – bagged, loose, in pods, or pre-brewed. Each form of tea has its pros and cons.

    Bagged tea

    • Pros

    Tea that comes in tea bags is quick and easy to brew. Simply steep a bag in hot water and you're ready to go. Bagged tea also tends to be cheaper than loose leaf varieties.

    • Cons

    To speed up brewing time, the tea inside tea bags is ground up finely, but this tends to produce a slightly bitter, one-dimensional cup of tea. Bagged tea may also use lower-quality leaves.

    • Price

    The cost of bagged tea varies depending on the type of tea and the size of the package, but you'll usually pay between 5 and 35 cents per tea bag.

    A single tea bag equals one cup of tea, but it can be more difficult to work out the price per cup of loose tea. Most people use around one-tenth of an ounce to two-tenths of an ounce of loose tea per cup.

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    Loose leaf tea

    • Pros

    Loose leaf tea is usually made using quality leaves. Most tea enthusiasts would agree that you get a better flavor from loose tea. You may also find a wider range of tea varieties and flavors available in loose leaf form.

    • Cons

    You need an infuser or a teapot and strainer to brew loose leaf tea. You may have to go to a specialist retailer to get the widest range of options.

    • Price

    Depending on the brand, variety, and quality, expect to pay between $1 and $10 per ounce of loose leaf tea.

    Some varieties of loose leaf tea can be steeped several times, so you'll get multiple cups of tea from one teaspoon of leaves. Just be sure to keep them moist between steepings and throw them out after 12 hours.

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    Tea pods

    • Pros

    If you already have a Keurig or similar pod-based coffee machine, you can make tea from pods/K cups without having to buy additional equipment.

    • Cons

    The flavor of tea from pods isn't the greatest. Furthermore, plastic pods aren't very environmentally friendly.

    • Price

    Most tea pods cost between 30 and 90 cents apiece.

    A Healthy Sampler

    This sampler features five relaxing loose leaf blends. Many tea aficionados believe that loose leaf tea simply tastes better – like the difference between freshly ground coffee and instant granules – and we're inclined to agree. What's more, all these tea blends are organic, which is ideal for health-conscious tea fans.

    Pre-brewed tea

    • Pros

    If you love tea but don't want the hassle of making it from scratch, you can buy bottles of pre-brewed tea. You can find a range of both sweetened and unsweetened pre-brewed iced teas and herbal teas. Plus, you're able to drink them on the go, no equipment needed.

    • Cons

    Pre-brewed tea is cold by default, so it’s not ideal if you like your tea hot. There's also far less variety to be found on store shelves than if you were to brew the tea yourself.

    • Price

    You'll usually pay around $1 to $2 for 15 to 20 ounces of pre-brewed tea.

    EXPERT TIP

    An electric kettle with variable temperature controls is a handy appliance to have if you want to make a range of different teas.


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    Tea varieties

    All true tea comes from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. However, you'll find a range of types of tea. These types vary depending on factors such as the variety of Camellia sinensis plant they come from, how they're grown, where they're grown, and how they're processed.

    Tea blends

    Tea blends can either be blends of different varieties of a single type of tea (for instance, English Breakfast tea is a blend of various black teas) or they may be teas blended with fruits, flowers, oils, spices, or herbs to create flavored teas.

    Earl Grey and chai are both popular tea blends. Earl Grey contains bergamot oil to give it a citrusy flavor, whereas chai contains a range of spices that include cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise.

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    White tea

    Unlike other tea varieties made from the mature leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, white tea is produced from the buds and young leaves. This gives it a sweet, delicate taste and a low caffeine content.

    Herbal and fruit tea

    Sometimes referred to as "infusions," herbal and fruit teas consist of fruits and/or herbs but no actual tea. This differentiates them from tea blends containing fruit or herbs.

    Rooibos is a popular caffeine-free "tea," but it's not technically a type of tea, as it doesn't come from the Camellia sinensis plant.

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    Green tea

    Green tea is a popular tea that's often praised for its health benefits due to high levels of antioxidants.

    While it is dried, green tea isn't left to oxidize like black and oolong teas are, which is why it retains its green hue and has a mild flavor.

    Spoiled for Choice

    This tea variety pack from a well-respected English tea manufacturer gives you plenty of choice, with eight different mouth-watering varieties to select from. With 48 bags in total, you won't be running out of tea soon.

    Black tea

    Black tea is perhaps the most common type of tea. It's the kind you'd serve British-style with milk and sugar, and it's also the variety that's most often used for iced tea. It gets its dark hue and stronger flavor from being dried longer and more oxidized than other types of tea. Common black tea subtypes include Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Kenyan, and Keemun.

    Oolong tea

    Oolong tea is dried in a similar way to black tea but for a shorter amount of time. This makes it weaker and more subtly flavored than black tea but stronger than green tea, though it can vary in strength depending on how it's processed. Oolong tea is popular in China and Taiwan and should be drunk without milk.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Black tea has the most caffeine out of all tea varieties, followed by oolong tea, green tea, and white tea, in that order.

    Tips

    • Decide what flavor you want from your tea. If you want traditional sweet tea, you'll need some kind of plain black tea, whereas if you like something fruity, you might favor a fruit infusion or a fruit-containing tea blend. A whole world of tea is there for you to explore.

    • Consider a tea multipack. If you're unsure what kind of tea you prefer, consider getting a multipack containing a range of flavors, so you can try them out and find what you like.

    • Don't be put off by the extra equipment needed to make loose tea. You can find basic infusers for just a couple of dollars, so there's no need to be daunted by loose leaf tea.

    • Think about your mug size. If you drink tea from a large mug, it will taste weaker than it would if you brewed the same amount of tea with less water. Consider steeping your tea for longer or using more tea if your cup is large.

    You can compost loose leaf tea and tea bags after brewing as long as they don't contain any plastic.

    FAQ

    Q. What's the best brewing temperature for different varieties of tea?

    A. Different types of tea have different optimal brewing temperatures and times. Here's how you should be brewing your tea.

    • Black tea should be brewed at 210°F for two to three minutes.

    • Oolong tea should be brewed at 176°F to 185°F for two to three minutes.

    • Green tea should be brewed at 167°F to 176°F for one to two minutes.

    • Oolong tea should be brewed at 149°F to 158°F for one to two minutes.

    • Herbal tea should be brewed at 210°F for five to six minutes.
       

    Q. Do I need a teapot in order to make tea?

    A. A teapot certainly isn't a tea-making necessity, but it can be nice to have when you're making tea for a large group of people or if you're having tea with guests. That way, you can bring the teapot and teacups to the table and everyone can serve themselves.

    Q. I'm trying to reduce my caffeine intake. What's the best kind of tea to drink?

    A. If you want to cut out caffeine altogether, look for rooibos tea or for herbal or fruit infusions. However, if you just want to cut back, it's worth noting that even black tea (which contains the most caffeine out of all tea varieties) contains less than a third of the amount of caffeine than coffee per serving. Oolong, green tea, and white tea contain even less. Confusingly, decaf tea still contains a small amount of caffeine.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Eliza
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    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
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    • Katie
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      Editorial Director
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      Lauren
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      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor