Sometimes we all need a strong cup of tea. Even though there is a lot of happiness in drinking a delicate, pure, scented or flavored tea, mornings usually ask for something much stronger. Another occasion when stronger is better is when you need a strong flavor to make a tea latte, or want to bake or cook with tea. Furthermore, brewing a stronger cup may (in some cases) may offer more health benefits than a weaker infusion. Or maybe you just prefer stronger teas.
The strength of your tea will depend on many factors. All real teas are made from Camellia sinensis tea plant. However, teas made from Assamica varietal are usually stronger than those made from Camellia sinensis var. sinensis. Studies showed that teas from India and China have a higher caffeine and tannin content that those from Japan. However, the final content of caffeine and the strength of tea will depend on much more – from terroir to tea varietal and cultivar, to the way you brew tea and how you store it, and how much leaves you will use.
However, some teas offer a strong cup than others. So, which teas are the strongest?
Strong Tasting Black Tea
1. Assam black tea
Assam black tea comes from India and it’s made with Assamica tea varietal. It usually gives a cup with more caffeine than many other Indian teas, especially if the leaves are broken. Assam teas are full bodied with a unique malty and robust flavor. Assam tea is almost always a part of English Breakfast tea blends.
2. Chai Tea
Chai is a traditional Indian black tea made with milk and sugar. When made with milk, Chai is soothing, warming and utterly delicious. However, you can make it without a milk too. For regular brewing we recommend pre-made chai blends that can be ready in 5 minutes. They will still have a very strong black tea as a base, such as CTC tea leaves, and spices to give it enough heat and flavor.
3. Earl Grey tea
Earl Grey is usually blended with strong black tea and very intense bergamot essential oil. Some Earl Grey teas may have a weaker flavor, but the high quality teas will always surprise you with the well-balanced intensity of bergamot and strong black tea leaves. Earl Grey is a great fragrant alternative to regular breakfast teas.
4. Smoked Lapsang Souchong
Smoked Lapsang Souchong comes from China and it has a strong smokey scent. Although today it can be made using different techniques, the traditionally smoked Lapsang Souchong was smoked over pinewood. Lapsang Souchong is very likely a tea with the strongest and very unique scent and flavor, often an ingredient of a Russian Caravan tea. Keep in mind though, there are lighter and fruiter types too.
5. Pu’erh tea
Although technically not a black tea, pu’erh has a very unique intense flavor. Pu’erh is a fermented tea type. The raw pu’erh is even stronger, and should mostly be steeped for only a few seconds. Drinking too much pu’erh tea can cause tea drunkenness, a feeling of being light-headed or dizzy.
Strong Tasting Green Tea
1. Pinhead Gunpowder
Pinhead gunpowder is a Chinese green tea with leaves shaped into small pellets. It has a dark green color and gives a very strong infusion. Gunpowder is usually one of the first teas many tea drinkers try when they start to experiment with green tea. It’s often found in tea bags too, with a very strong, often bitter flavor and dark yellow, murky color. However, loose leaf gunpowder is much lighter, and when prepared properly, a real pleasure to drink. Gunpowder tea offers numerous possibilities for brewing–from lattes to iced teas.
2. Zhen mei Green tea
Another classical Chinese tea, Chunmee or Zhenmei tea tastes strong and has a light smokey note a bit of astringency. It’s suitable for making lattes too.
3. Mao Jian green tea
Mao Jian is one of the top ten teas from the „10 Famous Chinese Teas“ list. It’s very refreshing, bold, brisk and often stronger than other green teas.
Gyokuro is a shaded tea from Japan. It has a very strong flavor, umami note and high caffeine content. In fact, gyokuro is one of rare green teas that may give you higher caffeine boost than many black teas and even cause tea drunkenness. Brew gyokuro with cooler water and drank from small cups. If you prepare gyokuro in the same way as other green teas, it will be bitter.
5. Moroccan Mint
This traditional tea blend from Morocco is made with strong green tea as a base and refreshing mint. To balance the bitter note, Moroccan Mint tea can be served with sugar.
Tip: Strong green teas are great for making green tea lattes, a drink almost only reserved for black tea.
Strong Flavored Herbal Tea
1. Chino Mate
Yerba Mate is one of the rare caffeinated herbal teas. Both green and roasted types have a strong unique flavor. However, unlike the green mate, roasted mate isn’t bitter, and is great both hot and cold. Chino mate is made with roasted yerba mate and a lot of warming strong spices.
2. Simple Herbal Chai tea
Herbal Chai is very similar to black tea Chai, but with a caffeine free herbal base. Stronger and flavorful rooibos of honey bush are perfect for adding an earthy strong base to traditional chai spice mix.
3. Coconut Spice
Coconut Spice is another “spicy “tea with a very strong flavor. This herbal tea is a unique whole spices mix wrapped in turmeric powder with sweet coconut and vanilla flavor.
4. Tropical Herbal tea
Fruits, spices and flowers blended into rich and earthy red rooibos base with a natural sweetness make for a very strong and flavorful cup of tea. Tropical Herbal is both warming and refreshing, and clean and sharp.
5. Cherry “T” Herbal tea
If you are looking for a strong tangy notes and a dark fruity infusion, blends with hibiscus, cherries and berries are a must. One of our favorites is Cherry “T”, a fruit blend perfect for making iced teas.
Extra tips for the strongest flavor
- Always try to choose strong teas for making ice teas and tea lattes. They will give a richer flavor.
- The smaller the leaves, the stronger the flavor they will give. If you are choosing tea for gong fu brewing, opt for full unbroken leaves. But if you want the strongest possible cup, broken or CTC leaves may be a better choice. Keep in mind though, full unbroken leaf offers more complexity and hidden notes waiting to be discovered with each steep.
- To make tea stronger, it’s better to use more leaves than hotter water. Hotter water will extract more bitterness, rather than enjoyable flavor. Steeping tea longer than recommended is not advisable unless you are making lattes or iced teas.
- To get the extra strong flavor, boil the leaves in water for 10 or more minutes. This is especially recommended for making chai tea and other green tea lattes.
- Stronger white teas such as Bai Mu Dan or a stronger heavy oxidised and roasted oolong tea can be a great choice for iced tea too.
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.
 Differences in Caffeine and Tannin Contents between Tea Cultivars, and Application to Tea Breeding, Yoshiyuki TAKEDA