What is the second herbal tea to try after chamomile?
October 29, 2010 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I would like herbal tea recommendations.

I like all kinds of regular tea. I am not a gourmet. At the moment my favorite kind is Lipton green tea with orange passionfruit and jasmine.

There is a huge selection of herbal teas at my neighborhood grocery store and at my local whole foods store. I am interested in hearing about good customer experiences with the items to be found there. I know next to nothing about herbal tea. The only kind of herbal tea I regularly drink is chamomile. I am mainly interested in taste, but druggie effects might also be appealing.

When I google on this topic all I see is people selling tea. I do not want to hear from anybody who is selling. I want to hear from people who are buying: what do you buy and why?

Thank you!
posted by bukvich to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Ok people may hate but I like Celestal Seasonings Lemon Zinger and Blueberry. Otherwise Tazo white blueberry. I also liked Tazo's Passion, which was very sour/fruity but similar to the blueberry.

Whole Foods had some amazing selections but I'm not paying $20 for tea.
posted by stormpooper at 1:57 PM on October 29, 2010

I don't personally like the sweeter, fruity/floral teas, but I do like having something I can drink at night when black and green teas have too much caffeine, so I tend to drink plain rooibos, which has a nice flavor that is kind of reminiscent of black tea but different enough to be interesting in its own way. The similar but slightly sweeter honey bush tea is also good.

I have also just discovered ku ding tea, which has a really strong bitter taste that I like although many people probably will not.
posted by enn at 1:58 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you will concede that they are herbal infusions, and not tea at all, I will recommend Twinings Spearmint+Chamomile. My pre-bedtime drink of choice.
posted by bardophile at 2:02 PM on October 29, 2010

Peppermint is my all-time favorite tea. It aids digestion and soothes an achy/nervous stomach. It's very refreshing, too.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:06 PM on October 29, 2010

Peppermint, spearmint, or a mix of the two. Yum, especially when iced.
posted by mesha steele at 2:10 PM on October 29, 2010

Seconding Tazo's Passion Tea, which tastes sweet and looks pink when you brew it.
posted by misha at 2:13 PM on October 29, 2010

Mugicha/boricha! It's excellent to drink hot in the winter and even better in the the summer over ice.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:13 PM on October 29, 2010

If you like herbal teas that kinda sorta taste like coffee, I'd recommend Rostaroma, which is packaged by Celestial Seasonings.
posted by chicainthecity at 2:13 PM on October 29, 2010

It isn't really tea as such, but I like grating fresh ginger into a mug and pouring boiling water over it.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:15 PM on October 29, 2010

If you like herbal you might also like rooibos tea, sometimes called red bush tea. It has no caffeine and is similar to a black tea but better flavor (I think). Twinings makes a good version although im sure higher priced/quality is available.
posted by Busmick at 2:17 PM on October 29, 2010

On post-view enn said it better...
posted by Busmick at 2:18 PM on October 29, 2010

If you are shopping at whole foods, Celestial Seasons usually has a Fruit Tea sampler and an Herb Tea sampler. I also like the multi-pack of Traditional Medicinals Seasonal Teas because they have flavors I like just for drinking, but they are far more "herbal" tasting. Breathe Easy has a eucalyptus flavor that makes me think of San Francisco fog. I happen to like earthy, leafy teas that taste like a garden, but lots of people don't.

If you are asking about single herbs, lots of people like spearmint. You could also try plain honeybush or rooibos, or rose hip if you don't mind adding sweetener.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:25 PM on October 29, 2010

I hate fruity teas, so I love Celestial Seasonings' (don't hate) Tension Tamer and Bengal Spice. (Also, I am pretty sure that Roastaroma has caffeine, though I might be thinking of Morning Thunder, which definitely has caffeine).
posted by chowflap at 2:25 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bengal Spice is my absolute favourite Celestial Seasonings. It's delicious on its own or with a splash of your preferred milk like liquid. Also, it smells really good.
posted by Lorin at 2:26 PM on October 29, 2010

Hibiscus is another fruity-tart tea you might like.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:26 PM on October 29, 2010

Disclaimer: yes, I know that most of these are not technically tea but are herbal infusions.

Also, I'd encourage you not to avoid loose teas. Bodum makes some very easy to use products, like a little basket that fits into the top of just about any cup or mug, and you can get a cheap French press (the kind usually sold for coffee) at Ikea or any other large place.

Many of the restaurants around here serve Rishi Tea, which is from Milwaukee. In your area, their stuff is sold at Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma. I especially love their Maghreb Mint. It's not too sharp (like, it doesn't scream MINT MINT MINT); it's an excellent breakfast tea and very soothing.

Rishi offers several sampler packs of things like different varieties of rooibos, botanical blends, etc. They also have some great iced tea options, some which are more fruity or citrusy than others.

Don't laugh, but I love Aveda's comforting tea, the kind they give out at the salon. It's especially awesome when you have a sore throat. It has licorice and mint, just enough so that it tastes smooth, lightly sweet and has a tiny syrup-like finish.

Montana Tea and Spice Trading makes several kinds which you can usually find at coffee shops. Evening in Missoula and Mountain Huckleberry are both very tasty.

The Stash catalog is usually fun to look through.

Of the mass-market brands, Republic of Tea is usually pretty decent, and they have some nice sampler packs.

And honestly, I like Celestial Seasonings (yes, mostly herbal and not strictly tea), and have since I was a kid. Bengal Spice is one of my favorites.
posted by Madamina at 2:27 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm finding this a difficult question to answer, as taste is so subjective.

My personal herbal tea favorites are Moroccan Mint and Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime -- since the times when I am hankering after something other than black tea are generally in the evening when I want to wind down and sip something relaxing. I am looking forward to the holiday Celestial Seasonings varieties of tea -- I like to buy them when they go on clearance after the holidays -- because I like sweet minty tea. I also really enjoy CS's Bengal Spice because I think it tastes better than their Chai.

From experience, I know I do not prefer fruity teas or rooibos teas -- however I see from above that you enjoy a tea with orange passionfruit and jasmine, so perhaps you would enjoy the more fruit-infusion herbal teas.

But really -- the most sincere answer I can give is to just try some. Pick up a box that sounds good and try it out. If you want to try a variety of teas cheaply, the easiest way is to get the word out that you love tea. I find that friends and workmates, once they find out I like tea, love bringing in bags or even full boxes to give to me or have me try. It's kind of like a "tea swap." Also -- I'm sure this is true not just in my neck of the woods where everyone I know has a shelf full of Celestial Seasonings -- if you visit someone and they ask if you would like something to drink, ask what kind of tea they have and see if anything strikes your fancy. If you like it, great! If not, you can keep it on hand to share with future guests. Or bring it to work to share with someone who may like it.

(Sorry for the heavy Celestial Seasonings bent -- but that's mostly what's in my cabinet since I can get them for pretty cheap.)
posted by paisley sheep at 2:30 PM on October 29, 2010

Trader's Joe's has a lovely (decaf) Rooibos Chai.
posted by MeiraV at 2:33 PM on October 29, 2010

Rooibos is an acquired taste, but you might come to love it.

Peppermint is good, as is a chamomile-peppermint blend. From my visits to the US I found spearmint (or spearmint blends) to be easier to find there but IMO spearmint is horrible.

Read the ingredients before buying herbal tea blends. Many of the herbal teas by Celestial Seasonings, Tazo, Stash, etc. are hibiscus or rosehip-based, and I find that it overpowers the other flavours.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:08 PM on October 29, 2010

Peppermint, always. I have also recently discovered nettle tea, which I buy loose. It has a very mild flavor, but is quite soothing. Rosemary tea can be nice if you're in the mood.

Also, this is not herbal, but orchid tea is amazing, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
posted by bibliophibianj at 3:09 PM on October 29, 2010

I'll follow up on the comment about loose-leaf tea and say that there's a world of difference between bagged herbal tea and loose herbal tea.

I have found very few brand-name herbal teas that don't have added flavoring. It's in the ingredient list: "natural flavor." It means that you aren't tasting the actual herb, you're tasting what the company wants you to taste. It's typically citric acid, or some kind of fruit extract. It's like buying apple juice and discovering it's mostly made of grapes.

Many loose herbs do have their own flavor, although it's probably more subtle than many people are used to. Peppermint, on its own, has an obvious, strong flavor. Chamomile has a strong, characteristic flavor. The sliced ginger idea above is great. Try it with lemon!

You can also try:
  • Saint John's wort
  • lemon balm
  • rosehips
  • hibiscus flower
  • coltsfoot, etc.
Smash some fennel seeds with a kitchen mallet and add hot water. It's supposed to help with cold sores.

I suspect you may need to try looking for an organic food store or a dedicated herbalist for regular loose herbs. I buy mine at Jen's Zensations (in the Baltimore area). She has a list of the various herbs she offers, you may want to read up on them on Wikipedia. Many of them has particular applications in folk medicine, so you probably want to look for something you'll like on the basis of flavor, not purported curative properties.
posted by Nomyte at 3:13 PM on October 29, 2010

There's also green rooibos (unoxidized, like green tea), which I find to have a milder flavor that doesn't take getting used to.
posted by parudox at 3:32 PM on October 29, 2010

Many years ago Celestial Seasonings had a great flavor called Pelican Punch. I even wrote them when they discontinued it.

The good news is that the upcoming limited-edition holiday teas have one very similar flavior: Sugar Plum Spice. Or maybe it's Candy Cane Lane. Try both!

Rooibos is good, and Trader Joe's has a good blend of that.
posted by jgirl at 3:33 PM on October 29, 2010

Fennel tea is a good suggestion. (Flavour-wise, at least.)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:42 PM on October 29, 2010

Peppermint + lemongrass blends. I also like green tea + lemongrass, and green tea + peppermint. Yogi tea has a few nice green teas.

I totally recommend going to a tea shop and buying a tea ball & a small bag of looseleaf peppermint tea. WOW. Big difference from tea bags. You probably won't need as big a scoop as you think you do, it's wonderfully minty.

Honeybush tea (might only be able to get it looseleaf). Similar to rooibos but I like it much more: a sunnier, honeyed tea.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 5:50 PM on October 29, 2010

I drink teas and tisanes and infusions. A lot of all the above. My current collection is about 50 canisters of different types, and I've been told not to buy any more until I finish a few more. I just really, really like hot infusions, I guess.

What I really love are the following:

- Chammomile - when I need to relax. I also have a chammomile/juniper berry mix which is interesting.
- Peppermint - all the time.
- Lemongrass and ginger - especially with honey when I've got a sore throat or cold.
- Chai - most kinds, although I find a spicier one delightfully warming in winter.
- Green Jasmine - brewed just slightly under temperature of a normal boiling kettle.

Basically, I'd rock on over to your local tea shop, ask for a few samples, and just try a few things.
posted by ysabet at 6:51 PM on October 29, 2010

If you're willing to try loose teas (which you totally should - I like Celestial Seasonings and Twinnings and other grocery store brands too, but loose tea can be a wonderful experience and has a great taste to boot!) then Adagio tea has very good tea samplers. This Herbal tea sampler gives you a bunch of flavors for $10. Even better, you can order most of their flavors in $2 samples - it's enough to brew about 8-10 cups. You could put together an awesome sampler for $20 - 10 different teas of your choosing! Check out their flavors, blends and green teas too - a whole world beyond lipton green tea awaits your tastebuds! It's pretty fun to try out the different flavors and note the tastes: fresh, earthy, grassy, citrusy, peachy, minty, piney, etc.

I love Moroccan Mint. Also -- spearmint and peppermint are not the same thing -- if you don't like one, don't immediately assume you won't like the other!
posted by barnone at 7:41 PM on October 29, 2010

Good Earth original herbal tea is my absolute favorite. It's just delicious -- more complex than a one-herb tea, sweet (but not toooo sweet), and spicy in a lovely way.
posted by hansbrough at 9:40 PM on October 29, 2010

Madamina, +1 for Rishi Tea. I recommended it in the MetaTalk thread a couple days ago. Here's a link to Rishi's "botanical blend sampler, and here is their rooibos sampler.

I can't recommend anything from Whole Foods, specifically. I prefer Central Market. Central Market also has Rishi Tea (Madima mentioned above that Whole Foods has it), and so does the HEB on Buffalo Speedway just south of 59.

I have to agree with everyone suggesting you try loose tea. It tends to be higher quality, and it's more likely it will stand up to multiple steepings.

I would make the general suggestion of going to the bulk section. Again, I don't know about Whole Foods, but Central Market has quite a bit of loose tea in their bulk section. If you go there, it's on the back end of one set of shelves, near the spices. The Rishi Tea will be in large metal cylinders. I would get a bunch of small bags and just make my own sampler of whatever looks interesting (even if it's not Rishi Tea, I guess).

For specific recommendations, I can give only one: Cinnamon Plum. Ok, I'm a fan of Rishi Tea, but trust me, if you like cinnamon and you like plum, you should try this. It's a little sweet, so I guess you'd have to like that, and for a tea it's a pretty strong flavor the first steeping. The only problem is, I don't think any store in the area sells it. I'm going into Central Market tomorrow to stock up on tea, so I'll ask if they'll buy it. They really should.

An off-topic recommendation: If you like fruity tea, try Rishi's Citron Oolong (not an herbal tea; bulk section, Central Market).

People in that MetaTalk thread the other day mentioned a tea swap. Is that happening?
posted by Someday Bum at 10:07 PM on October 29, 2010

gah, Madima Madamina
posted by Someday Bum at 10:15 PM on October 29, 2010

I agree that loose tea is far superior, and less expensive, than tea bags. If your supermarket sells tea in bulk, that's a great way to try small amounts of many teas.

My favorite mint tea blend is Yeti's Rush, from Sip-T in Bellingham WA. It's a blend of peppermint, spearmint, and green tea. I suppose it would be easy to make that blend myself, but they do it perfectly.

Mint tea flavor is enhanced by a touch of honey.
posted by valannc at 11:42 PM on October 29, 2010

For bagged herbal teas, I like Celestial Seasoning's Bengal Spice when I want something sweet and spicy.

Mostly, I mix loose herbs when I want herbal tea. Some are from the bulk spice section of the grocery store, some are from local tea stores, and some are from Adagio. I like knowing what is in the tea I'm drinking and being able to vary it depending on what sounds good at the moment. The ingredients listing for commercial herbal teabags can be a good inspiration (although as Nomyte says, "natural flavors" can cover a lot of strongly-flavored-extract ground), taking the first few ingredients and then tweaking to your taste.

As for recommending specific herbs... Minty blends are nice, mixing peppermint, spearmint, and lemongrass. Goes well with green tea, goes well with honey, goes well as an accent for a lot of other blends. For fruity, tart blends I like dried hibiscus flowers and rose hips, and sometimes dried citrus peel or fresh zest. For drier, browner, more tea-ish notes, rooibos and honeybush are good, as are roasted chicory and roasted barley for a more toasty flavor. Some culinary spices can be good (cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cardamom, allspice, star anise, fresh ginger), but go for whole spices not powdered, or you'll end up with powdery tea. Dried rose buds or lavender flowers can be good for more flowery tea. Both stevia leaves and licorice root (different from licorice candy) have sweet aftertastes (in different ways), and licorice root is also good for coughs and sore throats.

And that's most of the contents of the herbal tea shelf of my tea cabinet. I change it up each time, but some common combinations are (in each combination, ingredients listed in order of amount used) spearmint + peppermint + lemongrass, hibiscus + rose hips + peppermint + lemon grass + licorice root, Rooibos + hibiscus, or licorice root + peppermint + cinnamon + star anise.
posted by JiBB at 12:38 AM on November 2, 2010

I'm a fan of lemon, jasmine, and raspberry teas.

You might consider checking out steepster.com, which is a social network all about tea -- you can sort by type for Herbal, and then see what the popular ones are, read reviews, etc.
posted by Kattiara17 at 8:08 AM on November 4, 2010

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