Switch Daily Coffee to Daily Tea
July 2, 2018 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I want to swap my coffee habit for a tea habit, for my teeth, my gut, and my anxiety. I drink an aeropress every morning and a cup or two of drip at the office. I've got instant hot water at my office. I'm looking for recommendations on teas to drink that would be super delightful. I like strong, malty beverages, and also herbal flavors - not a fan of fruit or artificial flavors in my teas. Thanks!
posted by rebent to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
You might like your various breakfast blends (English, Irish). Earl Grey has some orange in it, but not enough that it's overwhelming. Maybe Darjeeling.

If you have a loose leaf tea shop near you, I'd recommend paying them a visit and seeing what they have for you. Our local one is very good at matching people's desires to reality.
posted by zizzle at 9:13 AM on July 2, 2018

Be aware that many teas are worse for your teeth than coffee. Particularly Earl Gray and English Breakfast and other black teas.

Having said that, I made the switch years ago and don't regret it for a moment. I like English Breakfast, specifically PG Tips brand. If you are looking for something strong and distinctive, you may want to check out lapsang souchong.
posted by seesom at 9:16 AM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love this East Frisian blend. It's strong and malty, the main issue is that I've found is that for black tea most spigots aren't hot enough to get close to boiling and that can affect the flavor.
posted by Carillon at 9:17 AM on July 2, 2018

If you like coffee you might like Cascara, which is the dried fruit surrounding the coffee seed. I find it delightful, it’s prelim low in caffeine, good hot and cold...it’s just damn tasty. Describing it is hard, kind of cranberryish, honeyish flavor. It’s like coffee without all the “brown” flavors of maillard and carmelization components.

It’s harder to track down than tea, several coffee roasters carry it, but Sweet Maria’s has the best price and the quality is supreme.

Also, I’ve found aero press coffees particularly harsh on the gut. You might want to switch up the method, and there’s been some phenomenal progress in decaf technology. Sugar-cane proceeds coffee works with an enzyme that eats caffeine, and doesn’t dent the coffee quality much. It’s worth seeking out.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:19 AM on July 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

The maltiest strongest most delicious black tea around is Lipton Yellow Label. It's mostly sold in southeast Asia and the Middle East (I think?) So you might need to check an import store. But it is delicious, robust and reallllly malty.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:23 AM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Good black pu'erh tea has a wonderfully rich, complex, malty flavor that I find...well, still not as satisfying as a good dark roast coffee, but very close. Try to find a good tea shop and spend enough money to get the good stuff, though. Pu'erh can be made a bunch of different ways--and it can be made from high- or low-quality leaves--and whereas cheap English-style black tea is usually at least tolerable, cheap pu'erh is vile.
posted by xylothek at 9:23 AM on July 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

Left-field suggestion: you might like hōjicha, which has roasted leaves and a toasty, malty flavor. You wouldn't mistake it for coffee, it is absolutely not coffee-flavored, but somehow it scratches some of the same itch for me as coffee in a way that most other teas don't.

It's also naturally low-caffeine, though not caffeine-free, which might be good if part of your reason for switching is to drink less caffeine.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:23 AM on July 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

Since you say stronger flavours are your thing, I suggest giving Pu-er tea a try - there's a lot of variety in this type of tea as well.

Oolong is great because you can steep the same batch of leaves a bunch of times. I always find the third or fourth steeping tastes the best.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:24 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, genmaicha is green tea that contains toasted grains of rice. It might be in that "malty" zone for you.

Lots of brick-and-mortar and online shops that sell high-quality looseleaf tea sell smaller quantities for sampling a pot or cup. And I would agree that cheap pu'erh is way gross. If you're going to experiment with teas, getting quality stuff for greens and things like pu'erh is the way to go.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:32 AM on July 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

Good for you! Attacking my daily coffee habit decidedly affected for the better my sleep, my digestion, and my tension. So I think it’s likely you can look forward to real benefits for yourself.

I went from one giant super dark coffee I fed on all morning until noon, to a single cup of black tea at breakfast.

Recently took the next step and went from daily-morning tea to only-if-I-need-it tea, which resulted in another dramatic improvement in sleep and tension. I might have tea once a week now, if I’ve stayed up late working or something. Was NOT expecting I’d feel such a positive difference. Caffeine is fire, man.
posted by Construction Concern at 9:45 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Try out some Lapsang Souchong! It's like sipping scotch, but without the gasoline part. Smoky and warm. Twinings makes a really nice one.
posted by AgentRocket at 9:48 AM on July 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

I always think of Lapsang Souchong as the tea I want at 3am when I have to stay up to finish something. Oolong is my regular tea, and the quality varies a lot so get the good stuff.
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I also prefer strong and malty drinks, and for black tea that means your best bet is probably an Assam-heavy tea--most Irish Breakfast blends would be good. Quality loose-leaf Assam is amazing, but if you don't want to fuss with loose tea you can also get Assam tea bags online (in the UK you'd find them among the supermarket selections but they're a lot rarer in the US). But a standard Irish Breakfast is a good option to start with.

If you like smoky flavors then you should definitely try lapsang souchong and "Russian Caravan" teas, which are usually blends of lapsang souchong with oolong and other stuff. I'm a big fan of the Choice Organic brand Russian Caravan tea bags (note the smoke factor is pretty intense; it's basically the tea version of a Islay scotch, which I also love). I'm not a big green tea fan, but I do like genmaicha for the nutty/toasty note.

Finally, for caffeine-free/herbal "tea", how do you feel about mint? It's a good alternative to the fruity stuff, which I also dislike. I've had some nice mint-lemongrass blends, but I my favorite is the Yogi Tea brand's Egyptian Licorice Mint, which is probably another one of those love-it-or-hate-it things--if you don't like strong licorice/anise flavors skip it, but if you do, it might be a hit. Their ginger tea is also a nice spicy, strong, warming one. I've also enjoyed fennel, sage, and linden tisanes--basically I skip all the fruit flavors and look for spice or herb-based options.
posted by karayel at 10:01 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used to drink 3-4 giant cups of coffee a day and have cut back to one small cup. If you're like me, strong flavors are what you need. I like hibiscus herbal tea, chai black tea with spices, green tea with pomegranate, and licorice based teas.

Macha is amazing but you have to whisk it into the cup, not steep like normal tea.

Thai tea (available at Asian grocery stores) is also amazing. Some has sugar and milk powder built into the packet, but it's great without it as well.

I use a giant metal French press which I've found is the simplest way to make loose leaf teas. (Kept breaking the glass French presses, and tea dippers are a pain to deal with.)

Also, I sometimes have cold brew coffee, and sometimes plain seltzer water. Have to keep it interesting.
posted by miyabo at 10:07 AM on July 2, 2018

For similar reasons, my partner used Dandy Blend to wean herself off of coffee last year. It's a powder made of roasted barley, rye, chicory root, dandelion root, and beetroot. Dissolves readily in hot water, mostly dissolves in cold.
posted by D.Billy at 10:14 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

My husband is hooked on brewing cacao beans, which are delightfully rich and coffee-like but much higher in antioxidants and some other good stuff and almost no caffeine. He's also a big tea drinker and your tea opinions above are great. This might be a good sub for a your single cup of aeropress in the mornings (website says you can make it in the aeropress!) or for the occasional treat that's more strongly flavored than tea.
posted by LKWorking at 10:32 AM on July 2, 2018

Agree with hojicha and genmaichca.

Matcha can also be quite strong and bracing.

Straight up barley tea is also delicious, you can buy it in tea bags but I just pop some barley in the toaster oven to brown it and grind a week’s worth in my coffee grinder.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:40 AM on July 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is very good either hot or cold, I make it with just a slug of cold press, and you could use decaf coffee.

This is an extremely good malty black tea. For the milk tea concoction above I use Yorkshire Gold, my favorite cheap black tea.
posted by clavicle at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2018

Seconding barley tea! It's deliciously rich and flavorful, so much so that I often want to make it into a milky latte/cappuccino sort of drink.
posted by stillmoving at 11:01 AM on July 2, 2018

I love Constant Comment; it's how I switched from "lots of coffee" to "sometimes I can have tea instead" (including about four months of "no coffee, only tea.")

I love several of Adagio's fandom blends, including Warm Hugs which has chocolate bits, and East Spice of Ix, which has pear, so you may not be interested in that one. (Doesn't have a strong fruit flavor, though, unlike Bone Daddy which is very strongly apple flavored. But I don't know if you don't like fruit-in-general, or the more common strawberry & cherry flavors.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:22 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Golden Yunnan is a strong character-ful tea that's almost smoky, but not as overwhelming as Lapsang Souchong. And that's from someone for whom Lipton Yellow Label is barely flavoured water.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:28 AM on July 2, 2018

I gave up coffee back in the fall, and switched to green tea in the morning. I really love good Japanese green teas. It also gives me something to go deep and get minorly obsessed about. My favorite place to buy is generally O-Cha but there are others. There is a ton of variation in varieties and it is all a whole different world from most bagged green tea or grocery store green tea. It’s also good for multiple steepings so I can still spend my morning sipping on hot beverages but the caffeine is mostly depleted by the first and second. I started with just a mesh cup-style infuser until I came across a kyusu in a thrift store (the traditional green tea pot) and the infuser worked just fine. A cooler temperature (generally around 170-175F) and short infusion times are key so it doesn’t turn bitter.

I feel so much better and I feel like it is much gentler if I need to have an extra cup one day in the afternoon or night for an extra boost (my schedule is extremely variable and I often have early morning AND late night responsibilities) it’s not a problem to cut back again the next day when I don’t need that.

Pu-erh is also great and complex with a long tradition and many varieties, and is also fantastic for multiple steepings. I like that as well.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:39 AM on July 2, 2018

David’s Tea is also generally good quality and their pu-erh is FINE and maybe a good place to start; I think their Japanese green teas are also good quality but you can do better for your money if you order from Japan (Den’s Tea is a good source that ships from the US).
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:45 AM on July 2, 2018

If you have instant hot water at your office, that might be hot enough for green tea, but not black tea, which needs water brought to a full boil. If you can get an electric kettle, here's some ideas for black teas.

Recommended blends: You probably want an assertive and malty tea. If you're going to a specialty shop, that would be Assam and/or Kenyan. Most English/Irish breakfast blends use Assam and sometimes Kenyan tea. Darjeeling is loved by many, but I have wasted many minutes of my life waiting for the damn cup to develop something resembling full tea flavour. Earl Grey has perfume in it. PERFUME. Try a cup at a good local shop before you buy a bunch of this.

Recommended brands: My picky palette likes strong tea with some milk from these popular UK and Indian brands, one teabag per mug, brewed for 4 minutes: Yorkshire, Yorkshire Gold, Tetley Bold and Tea India. You may find that PG Tips works well for you, although I found it disappointing even after I got the imported version via Amazon. (It was fine, but not quite as good as the brands I can pick up in any Toronto supermarket.) I found Lipton Yellow Label to be even weaker and not worth the above-average supermarket price.

Maybe??? Lots of people recommend brands like Twinings and David's Tea, but everything I've tried from them falls short of what I'm looking for. If you can try some in a local tea shop and actually like them, then go ahead and buy a bunch of bags or loose tea.
posted by maudlin at 12:12 PM on July 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thirding or fourthing barley tea or caffe d'orzo.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:46 PM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

You seem to want a tea with a good bite... one that'll let the spoon stand up.

Yorkshire (Gold if you can get it)
Typhoo, PG Tips, Tetley all make decent 'builder's teas'
Lapsang Souchon
Pu-Erh (but be aware: it has laxative properties comparable with those of coffee. For many folks, that is a feature not a bug. Just be aware.

Lipton Yellow Label (too weak!)
Darjeeling (delicate and flowery)
Most Twinings varieties (not robust enough)
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:29 PM on July 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

If you want a black tea that'll really put hair on your chest, go to your local Indian grocer and get one of the cheap brands they sell (Taj Mahal, Tea India). It will not be winning any high falutin' taste tests any time soon but if you want some strong black tea they have got you covered.
posted by soren_lorensen at 2:09 PM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yorkshire is the way to go.

I feel very strongly about this.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:58 PM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Upton's Teas are an excellent online vendor of teas.
posted by conrad53 at 4:20 PM on July 2, 2018

Nthing Orzo, Pu-erh, Kenyan teas, Assam (my favourite tea, also very forgiving, hard to oversteep, never goes bitter), hojicha.
posted by smoke at 5:29 PM on July 2, 2018

-I also thought of houjicha and genmaicha. Would also suggest buchwheat tea (sobacha in Japanese) for that roasty, almost nutty flavor.
My favorite, go-to source for houjicha and genmaicha is Myokoen, but I'm not sure of their availability in the US.

-Every Earl Grey I've had is noticeably different, so you could look for the less fruity kinds. Suggestions: Smith Teas Lord Bergamot and Numi Aged Earl Grey.
-I've also really enjoyed mint tea, often with some half and half or blended with a chai tea.

Some chai blends tick both the herbal (well, spice-y) and malty boxes, especially with maybe a mild Assam and a bit of dairy or nut milk.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 6:52 PM on July 2, 2018

Came for hōjicha and genmaicha. I've gotten mine from here: Ocha & Co. Organic Japanese Green Tea. Fast and Free world-wide shipping, it's always turned up faster than expected, tastes good to me.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:16 PM on July 2, 2018

You might like roasted dandelion tea — it brews up quite strong, and (with milk and sugar) has malty, rich flavours reminiscent of black tea or coffee.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 12:11 AM on July 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

It sounds similar to Houjicha and Genmaicha, but just want to throw in suggestions for Korean Boricha (barley tea) and Oksusucha (dried corn tea). Here's a good overview of what they look and taste like. I agree with the writer, I think they are also excellent when served cold.
posted by like_neon at 4:28 AM on July 3, 2018

Yorkshire Gold. I often use two bags per cup, because I like my tea strong and super-malty and this is the closest I've come to perfection. I even take these tea bags with me when I travel.

There was also a tea from Upton that came close, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was called. But they are worth trying, and the type I liked was described as 'malty' in the description, I believe.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:41 AM on July 3, 2018

I agree with Carillon that making tea with water from a hot water dispenser doesn't work as well as boiling water in a kettle. For for the purpose of making tea at work without a kettle, I've found that Taylors of Harrogate Scottish Breakfast works better than many others I've tried (PG Tips, Twinings, Tazo). Taylors of Harrogate also makes Yorkshire Gold, which was recommended several times by others (which I've enjoyed at home, but I haven't tried brewing it at work).
posted by loop at 3:41 PM on July 4, 2018

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