Everyone deserves a good cup of tea. If you are just starting out on your tea journey, you may feel overwhelmed by the choice flavors and types of tea. The bad news is that the feeling of being overwhelmed will never stop, not even after a decade of exploring tea. The good news? It will offer you a chance to find joy in tea leaves and taste the most exquisite and unique flavors a tea could offer.
How many teas are there?
If you read our previous article on Indian teas, you may have learned that an entire life would not be enough to try only all teas from Assam tea gardens. You would need more than 130 years to try one type per day from every single garden from Assam only. And no garden is making only one type of tea. Add other tea regions, other countries, other types, leaf types and harvesting times and different tea plants and you could easily dedicate your life to tea only. No matter how wonderful that life would be, you would still need to make a selection.
And we did just that. Here is our selection of the best teas every tea lover should try at least once in their lifetime and a starting point to understand different types and terroirs.
1. Assam black tea
Assam black tea is one of those teas every tea lover should have in their tea cupboard. It blends with almost any other black tea and is one of the best bases for lattes, milk teas and iced teas. Strong and malty and great for breakfast. It’s one of the most popular black teas in the world, and often a base for many popular tea blends. Why trying loose leaf Assam tea? Because you can explore many flavor nuances, quite often absent from Assam in tea bags.
2. Darjeeling black tea
Darjeeling black tea is called a champagne among teas. Muscatel and floral, this tea is as fresh and floral as one black tea can get. However, different flushes have different flavors, and which one is the best will ultimately depend on your preferences. First flush is often not fully fermented, which is rare among black teas. Together with Assam, it’s the most well-known and well-loved Indian tea.
3. Yunnan black tea
Black teas from Yunnan are a special category of teas, often called Dian Hong. Yunnan black is different because of its smooth flavor and presence of golden buds. Sometimes, it can be made purely of buds and will have yellow golden instead of brown leaves.
4. Earl Grey
There is no scented tea blend more popular than Earl Grey. However, lately more sophisticate and gentle blends are slowly taking over hearts of many tea drinkers. Blue Lady Grey is one of them – gentle, delicious and scented with real bergamot oil.
5. Japanese sencha
Japanese sencha – the most popular tea type made in Japan and the most fresh and vegetal flavor in the world of green teas.
6. Matcha tea
Matcha is a Japanese powdered tea made from specially grown shaded tea leaves. It has a vibrant green color and is made using special utensils. Matcha is so popular that you can find it in literally everything – from desserts to chocolates, milk teas, chewing gums and face masks.
7. Dragon Well
Dragon Well is a must tea to try if you want to understand the difference between steamed and pan fired green teas. It’s lightly sweet and gentle with flattened leaves.
A special type of fermented dark Chinese tea may be an acquired taste, but nothing can beat its benefits, complexity and even – age. Some types are aged for decades before they are drunk. Pu’erh is a fermented tea and comes exclusively from Yunnan.
9. Silver Needle
A white tea made from tea buds only with a unique needle shape is gentle yet strong. With light flavor comes high caffeine content, and this tea is packed with benefits. Today, Silver needle is made in many countries, each with a different flavor profile.
10. Red Robe
One of the most popular and important oolong teas comes from the Chinese WuYi region. It’s one of the best representatives of the category of tea called “rock tea “and has a unique flavor.
11. Ti Kwan Yin
On the other hand, Ti Kwan Yin is the best representative of the Chinese green rolled oolongs. Although the modern Ti Kwan Yin has a very different flavor and color from the traditional one, today it’s by far more important than the classical one. Ti Kwan Yin has a lighter floral flavor, often with different flavor notes. It offers at least 5 infusions.
12. Rooibos herbal tea
Rooibos is a herbal tea with a unique earthy flavor, zero caffeine, packed with antioxidants and made only in South Africa. It has the most intense red color a tea could have. However, if you need to choose the one rarely anyone has tried, choose the green one. Green rooibos is an unfermented rooibos, and it’s still considered rare. It has no bitterness at all and a flavor more similar to green tea than red rooibos.
13. Yerba Mate
As a traditional drink of some South American tea countries, Yerba Mate is a must try if you are interested to understand different tea cultures. It’s one of the rare caffeinated herbal teas and has a unique flavor.
14. Chai Tea
Soothing, sweet and milky, chai is more than just a tea. This tradition Indian milk tea can be made with or without spices, and can warm you up instantly. Read how to make it at home here.
15. Purple tea
Kenyan Purple tea is one of the latest inventions in the world of tea. It contains anthocyanins, pigments with anti oxidative properties that give a specific deep purple and blue color to fruits such acai berries, purple kale of blueberries. This tea was invented with keeping health benefits in mind and has a better anti oxidative activity than green tea. Besides, it tastes delicious.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Every person is different and may react to different herbs and teas differently. Never use teas or herbs to treat serious medical conditions on your own. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing home remedies.