Whether you're new to tea or a tea aficiando, it never hurts to get some advice on the best kind of tea to buy. You'll want to consider how many flavors you want, what kind of tea leaves you're buying, the company's philosophy, and the packaging.
Since we wanted to find out the best things to consider from a resident expert, we contacted tea connoisseur Rachael to help us understand what to look for in a good tea. Her notes and our research is all gathered below for your perusal!
If you are just now picking up your first cup of tea, try for a sampler with a bit more variety. The more tea you sample, the likelier you are to discover your tastes and preferences. Rachael says anything from three up to ten types of tea is acceptable, with six to eight being that sweet spot.
This also holds true if you are sampling a new or heretofore unknown brand. You may be knowledgeable about tea—but even the same type of tea or similar blends can taste different at the hands of different makers, so it’s better to try a wide selection to see what the new brand is capable of.
If you’re confident you know what you like, then you can hone in on a type of tea you’re partial to—maybe try a tea sampler that only offers green teas, but in unfamiliar varieties. Or you may go for samplers that are centered around a theme; it may focus on warming winter blends, for example, or tea meant to soothe and put you to sleep.
If you’re not already a bit of a tea aficionado, then it’s good to get a feel for the different teas, but it can get a bit confusing if you’re trying too many different ones. It’s great if there’s a range of different teas—so some black teas, some green teas, some oolong, and some white teas, for a change of flavor, and even some herbal blends.
These have lost a good amount of the essential oils and aroma they had when they were full leaves. Because of that, more tannin is released when the tea is steeped, and you get a more astringent, bitter flavor.
With loose leaf teas, you get a real depth of flavor and some really interesting blends—and you can also make up your own blends. But if they’re good quality tea bags, I will quite happily have them. I think most tea brands are moving away from the dust-filled tea bags and looking to provide a better quality of tea leaf, better quality of blend.
It’s a little bit more of a sustainability issue. It’s actually best for the environment if you’re using loose leaf teas. But also, a number of brands are bringing out very eco-conscious versions of tea bags—no bleach, no plastic.
If you’re experienced with tea–and have the equipment needed to brew it–you can go even further. You can buy loose leaf tea that just comes in a tin, which requires that you measure it out and make it properly–using perhaps a Teavana PerfecTea maker, a steeper, a tea strainer, or an infusing basket.
There’s a number of different gadgets that you can get [for loose leaf teas]—you can get different types of steepers; you can get tea pots with steepers built-in, which are very handy and make the whole process quicker. And if you know where to look, there’s also some lovely organic tea bags that you can get that come in a box.
They’re just very simple, quite large bags that you directly put the loose leaf tea into. And you can just rest them in your cup or mug in the same way that you would with a tea bag—or, indeed, put them in a tea pot.
If you like the concept of tea, but aren’t a huge fan of plain tea, don’t worry. There is an abundance of flavors for you to try, like Moroccan Mint and lemon tea. It seems like each month, tea makers are coming out with more wild varieties, like Salted Caramel, Wild Raspberry Hibiscus, Ambrosia Plum, Blood Orange, and Mountain Rose.
There’s traditional chai, but there’s also a number of blends that are a play on chai that mix in some cinnamon, some musk spices—quite comforting flavors for the winter. Also, there are a few really good blends now that are so fruity and so full of flavor that you don’t need sugar. Some of them are also quite soothing if you’ve got a sore throat.
It’s not something you think about often, but words can enhance your drinking experience. Some samplers come with information about where the tea was picked, how it was produced, and the brands themselves. This knowledge can lead tea initiates to new discoveries and more tea that they find enchanting.
So before you purchase, read the product description and the provider’s site, if they have one. Check for sustainability and information about the people who toil to bring the tea to you. It’s not only ethical, but it's also a fun experience—and you might pick up some facts that will help you make informed decisions about tea in the future.
I think there’s been a big push towards sustainability and having eco-friendly tea products, whether it’s the tea bags or the packaging that the tea samplers come in. And about the people who brought that tea to you—there’s a lot of emphasis on bringing that to life for the people who are drinking the tea.
There’s also always brewing instructions, different ways to use it—recipes for cocktails and making yourself other blends [that you can find as well].
If you're interested in buying from brand that put eco-friendliness on the forefront, then Rachael mentioned Niko Ceylon, We Are Tea, and teakruthi as particularly noteworthy. Unfortunately, they don’t offer any sampler packs, but once you are well on your tea journey, please pay them a visit.
Niko Ceylon Tea provides plenty of information with their tea packaged in a simple, elegantly designed bag. 3% of their sales go towards the Tea Leaf Trust (educational projects for Sri Lankan children working tea estates) and Reforestlk (reforesting Sri Lanka).
We Are Tea provides sustainable packaging in their plastic-free and biodegradable. Teakruthi has ceylon teas straight from Sri Lanka and their products are sustainably grown.
Rachael also mentioned the Tea Tourist for their subscription service—so if you're looking to learn more about tea and get a huge selection of new ones to try at the same time, take a look!
The Tea Tourist subscription service is pretty impressive. They send out a large selection each month from a number of different brands all across the UK. And they have a lot of information about the provenance of the tea—the people who made it, the people who distributed it.
Tea storage is perhaps one of the most underrated aspects of enjoying tea. When tea isn’t packaged properly, it quickly loses its taste and aroma. Airtight containers help retain freshness and prevent any of these pesky troubles.
When tea is stored in a container that isn’t airtight, it absorbs the aroma of whatever food is close to it—so you could get pork and onion-accented afternoon tea. Airtight containers keep out these odors, as well as humidity. When tea comes in airtight container, it can be kept on the kitchen counter or in the fridge (recommended for green teas).
I think the emphasis is on the tea distributers to package it in the right way and make the most of the freshness for their customers. Most brands now seal their tea leaves up very carefully, either in foil or in sealed packaging within a tin or within a box. There’s a lot of emphasis on freshness for lighter teas, like an oolong or a white tea, too.
Here, we'll be introducing ten tea samplers we love, suited for a variety of different palates. Tea aficionado Rachael was also so kind as to chip in and recommend a few brands that she’s partial to. Tea and flavor is, of course, subjective–so you may like the tea in, say, tenth place more than the one in first.
Whittard of Chelsea
The Republic of Tea
Heavenly Tea Leaves
Tea and the Gang
Hall Of Fame Assorted Tea Sampler
A Taste of Tea
Classical Variety Gift Box
Tea Bags Sampler Assortment
Ultimate Green Tea Bag Assortment Jar
Single Steeps Assorted Classic Teas Loose Tea Sampler
Tea Samplers Assorted Collection
Organic Tea Variety Pack, Numi’s Collection
Meet the Gang Pack
Sweet and Wacky Blends Will Sate All Your Flavor Needs
Taste of Both Classic Giants and Trendy Blends from the UK
Wrapped in Foil to Preserve Freshness and Bold Flavor
A Massive 48 Flavors So You Can Pick and Choose Your Favorite
Well-Balanced Green Teas from an Adventurous and Ethically Sourced Tea Provider
24 Fragrant Loose Leaf Blends, Measured Out for Your Convenience
One of Each Variety of Finely Crafted Teas
Ethically Sourced Organic Teas With Variety and Flavor
An Orderly Selection of Loose-Leaf Teas
Unique Teas with a Wide Range of Personalities
|Net weight||5.6 oz.||2.8 oz.||4.2 oz.||Not provided||Not provided||3.82 oz.||Not provided||1.3 oz.||6.4 oz.||Not provided|
|Tea flavors||French Earl Grey, Fruitalicious, Green Rose, Melbourne Breakfast, Packs a Peach||Tippy Assam, English Breakfast, Mango & Bergamot, Earl Grey, English Rose, Afternoon, Jasmine, Marrakech Mint||Ceylon Tea, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey Tea, English Tea No.1, Evening Decaffeinated||48 kinds, including Spiced Apple, Early Grey Extra Bold, Organic Peppermint, Irish Breakfast, etc.||Pomegranate Superfruit Green, Acai Superfruit Green, Blueberry Superfruit Green, Honey Ginseng Green, Peoples' Green, Peoples' Green Decaf, Ginger Peach Green||28 kinds, including Cucumber Mint, Green Mango Peach, Honey Yuzu, and English Breakfast||Ahina Green Tea, Bodh Second Flush Black Tea, Ikusei Cardamom Green Tea, Koge Jasmine Green Tea, Kozan Spearmint Green Tea||Black, green, white, Pu-erh, rooibos, herbal, & turmeric teas||Flavored Green Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, Flavored Black Tea, White Tea, Flavored Herbal Tisane, Herbal Tisane (2), Rooibos Herbal Tisane||English breakfast, earl grey, lemon and lime green tea, mango and pineapple oolong tea, peppermint herbal, etc.|
|Net weight||5.6 oz.|
|Tea flavors||French Earl Grey, Fruitalicious, Green Rose, Melbourne Breakfast, Packs a Peach|
|Net weight||2.8 oz.|
|Tea flavors||Tippy Assam, English Breakfast, Mango & Bergamot, Earl Grey, English Rose, Afternoon, Jasmine, Marrakech Mint|
|Net weight||4.2 oz.|
|Tea flavors||Ceylon Tea, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey Tea, English Tea No.1, Evening Decaffeinated|
|Net weight||Not provided|
|Tea flavors||48 kinds, including Spiced Apple, Early Grey Extra Bold, Organic Peppermint, Irish Breakfast, etc.|
|Net weight||Not provided|
|Tea flavors||Pomegranate Superfruit Green, Acai Superfruit Green, Blueberry Superfruit Green, Honey Ginseng Green, Peoples' Green, Peoples' Green Decaf, Ginger Peach Green|
|Net weight||3.82 oz.|
|Tea flavors||28 kinds, including Cucumber Mint, Green Mango Peach, Honey Yuzu, and English Breakfast|
|Net weight||Not provided|
|Tea flavors||Ahina Green Tea, Bodh Second Flush Black Tea, Ikusei Cardamom Green Tea, Koge Jasmine Green Tea, Kozan Spearmint Green Tea|
|Net weight||1.3 oz.|
|Tea flavors||Black, green, white, Pu-erh, rooibos, herbal, & turmeric teas|
|Net weight||6.4 oz.|
|Flavors||Flavored Green Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, Flavored Black Tea, White Tea, Flavored Herbal Tisane, Herbal Tisane (2), Rooibos Herbal Tisane|
|Net weight||Not provided|
|Tea flavors||English breakfast, earl grey, lemon and lime green tea, mango and pineapple oolong tea, peppermint herbal, etc.|
The result? The leaves don’t turn as brown or withered, but rather stay a shade of green. Green tea tends to be lighter than black tea, and it also has about half the caffeine.
If you like the fresh grassy taste, there’s a number of green teas that have that depth of flavor. I think what's important is how you brew green tea. You really shouldn’t steep it for very long because, otherwise, the leaves get burnt and it can get a very bitter taste. Whereas black tea, I will steep for as long as possible to get a really, really strong cuppa.
I find black tea comforting. It’s a robust flavor; the strength gives me a little bit of a lift. Obviously, there’s a bit more caffeine in the black tea as well, so that can be a helpful boost—particularly first thing in the morning or in the afternoons.
I find oolong very light and refreshing. It’s a nice alternative if you want something that’s a little bit more like a black tea, but you don’t want milk with it, for example. It's got a lot of the health benefits and the flavor that you would expect from a green tea. And you don’t need to steep it for very long.
White tea might be made from immature leaves or normal tea that is minimally processed. As a general rule, however, white tea is pale in color with a gentle, breezy taste.
To me, white tea is a bit like an oolong, really. It’s a little bit like a cross between a green tea and a black tea. It’s got that light, refreshing taste, [and is] something that can be enjoyed without milk.
It goes very well with sweet food, so if you are having a traditional afternoon tea with cakes and pastries, it will accompany them very well because the flavor’s not so intense that it takes away from the flavor of all the different treats.
There are so many different herbal teas out there now that have been designed for the health benefits. And if you’re wanting to avoid caffeine and you’re still wanting a nice hot or iced tea, there’s a number of different ones out there that are nice to try.
For example, Lavender and ginger teas can be quite nice iced as well and mixed into cocktails if you’re wanting alcoholic drink. So there are all different ways you can use them.
If you already know exactly what tea you love, are looking to buy a bigger size, and need a bit of help picking, then we've got other guides we'd love to introduce you to!
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
Home electronics, PC, camera
Cosmetics and skincare
Food and drinks
Kids and baby
Interior and furniture
DIY and tools
Sports and fitness
Books, CDs, DVDs
Cars and motorcycles
Housing equipment and renovation
Smartphones and mobile phones
Investment and asset management
Credit cards and loans