My Guide to Tea: Part I: Kinds of Teas + My Favorites

I’m starting a short series of posts about one of my favorite beverages: tea! I’ve been somewhat of a tea nerd for a few years now, and I often have friends asking me tea questions, so I thought it’d be nice if I gave you the basics to start your own tea habit. If you have any questions about tea you’d like to be answered, leave a comment below and I’ll answer it in a later post!

There’s just something about a cup of tea. It can be warm and soothing or strong and hearty. There is a tea for every occasion, ever mood, every craving. It is the drink of the world and my drink of choice. teaI’ve been drinking hot tea since high school, when my mom bought me some loose-leaf tea from Teavana. I’ve learned a lot about tea since then! So I’ll start by telling you what I know.

I have a lot of tea. I like variety, and my tea collection has pretty much covers every flavor I could ever want.

tea drawer2I store my tea in a desk drawer and I use all of the space.

tea drawer1Warning: this could happen to you if you get into tea. Here’s my tea all nice and organized:

teaThat’s a lot of tea! So where do you begin? First, decide what kinds of tea you’re interested in trying.

Types of Tea

Black teas are probably what you are most familiar with. It has a full body and is stronger than other teas, but not as strong as coffee. It’s often served with milk and sugar. Black teas are a favorite in Great Britain and Ireland (ever heard of English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast teas? Those are black teas.) Black tea has the highest caffeine of all teas.

Oolongs are sort of a cross between black and green teas. I personally don’t have much taste for oolongs because they are too delicate to drink with milk but are more bitter than green tea.

Green tea is my favorite kind of tea! They come in a lot of different varieties, some smokey, some grassy and others very light and fresh. Green tea is low on caffeine and I find it can settle a stomach or warm me up after a cold day of classes.

White teas are even more delicate than green teas. Their flavor is very subtle, and fans of black tea may not be able to pick up the flavor of white teas. But if you like that delicate flavor, you’ll love a white tea!

Herbal teas aren’t really tea at all…they’re caffeine-free blends of herbs, flowers and spices. Some common herbal teas include peppermint, chamomile, lemongrass and dried fruit blends. Other herbal teas such as rooibos (from an African plant and also known as red tea) or maté tea (which isn’t caffeine free) from South America are becoming more and more popular.

Loose vs. Bagged Teas

loose leaf

When I first got into tea, I thought bagged teas were all low-quality “tea dust,” and that’s still partially true. High-quality tea would be damaged during processing, so to get the best flavors, look for loose-leaf teas. However, some teas can stand up to the bagging process, especially herbal teas. That’s what I drink certain teas in loose leaf and buy bagged herbal teas in fun flavors.

My favorite bagged tea brand is Celestial Seasonings! Most of their teas are herbals and they are really tasty. Here’s what I have in my stock right now:

celestial seasoningsExcept the mandarin orange green tea and the Candy Cane Lane (a peppermint green tea), these are all herbal teas and are all delicious.

My loose-leaf tea collection is large, but ever-changing. I order loose teas from Teavana and Adagio Teas. Teavana has stores where you can smell the teas and see what you like, but their blends are very complex. Adagio keeps things simple with just one flavor, which I appreciate a lot. I also like Adagio because they sell samples for $2-4 a piece, which means you don’t have to spend a lot of money to try a tea.

There are a few teas I keep in stock all the time:

earl grey greenEarl Grey Green is my all-time favorite tea. I love the flavor of Earl Greys (Citrusy bergamont) but it’s usually a black tea blend, so this green tea allows me to drink it all the time. I probably drink at least one cup of this tea every single day.

I also usually have some rooibos and Cha Cha around. These are caffeine free teas and rooibos is also good for allergies, so I drink it in spring.

rooibos2Cha Cha is a blend of chamomile, peppermint and lemongrass. Its flavor is very similar to the Sleepytime from Celestial Seasonings.

chachaI also usually have a black Earl Grey tea. My current favorite is Earl Grey lavender from Adagio:

teaI hope that helps you get started! Tea is a wide world and there are so many different blends and flavors available, so just try some stuff and see what you like! I’m going to do a post about how to brew tea and another about tea accessories (yes, there is such a thing) so look out for those!

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3 thoughts on “My Guide to Tea: Part I: Kinds of Teas + My Favorites

  1. Great post! Yes, tea is amazing! I agree loose leaf is the best but I often find I am lazy and just use tea bags for convenience. My fave is Vanilla Chai (I’m in NZ so probably different brands available here to you). However the sleepytime Vanilla looks like it would be right up my ally. And LOVE love love white tea.

    • Thanks for reading! Yeah bagged tea is quite convenient, especially when you find a quality brand! I actually have another post about tea I’m going to share tonight, so check back in a little while!

  2. Pingback: My Guide to Tea: Part II: Brewing + Storing Tea | Expeditions of Elise

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