Fits to a tea
September 3, 2007 6:05 AM   Subscribe

Recommend me a variety of tea!

I'm just starting to appreciate tea. I started with Earl Grey, fell in love, and am looking to branch out from there. Bonus points if it's high in caffeine, but flavor is priority.

posted by charmston to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
lapsang souchong is another distinctive tasting black tea (smokey flavour).
posted by andrew cooke at 6:12 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lapsang Souchong is the daddy of all teas - try mixing it 2 parts to 1 with a "builder's tea" like PG or Typhoo if the smokeyness is too overpowering.

(And then you're into home-blending, and that way madness lies...)
posted by Jofus at 6:16 AM on September 3, 2007

seconded on lapsang souchong.

Try Lady Grey - that's Earl Grey with orange in it! My favourite.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:16 AM on September 3, 2007

How about herbal teas? There is a brand of tea I get here in Korea that is jasmine, and it makes me swoon all winter long. Email address is in profile — I can send you some if you want.
posted by Brittanie at 6:26 AM on September 3, 2007

There's a beaaautiful tea with roasted rice grains in it. I can't remember the name, but it's not too obscure and tastes absolutely delicious.

Lapsang Souchong is very nice. A really, really good Assam is really the quintessential daddy of all teas.

A good English Breakfast always goes down well.

I don't know if they're a nationwide chain, but when I was in Boston I happened upon a wonderful little tea chain called Tealuxe. If they have them where you are (assuming you're in the US) then I highly recommend a visit.
posted by Magnakai at 6:28 AM on September 3, 2007

Tieguanyin, maybe not the caffeine content you want but a really fine flavour and my favourite.
posted by Abiezer at 6:37 AM on September 3, 2007

Genmaicha is Japanese green tea with roasted rice, I'm very fond of it.

Kusmi Tea is a company in France that makes Russian blends, I have some of the chai black tea - very strong and very spicy. you can find at Dean and Deluca. I also recommend any kind of tea from Mariage Freres.
posted by citron at 6:47 AM on September 3, 2007

The roasted rice tea mentioned by Magnakai is one of my favorites. It's also called Genmaicha. You can find it at Whole Foods (the brand is Eden, I think).

Other suggestions:
African Nector from Mighty Leaf
Fresh ginger & honey (steep 1 tsp grated ginger in boiling water for 1.5 minutes, add a little honey)
posted by Hermes32 at 6:51 AM on September 3, 2007

One of the best cups of tea I ever had was Ginger Peach (perhaps Celestial Seasonings, but I'm sure any other brand would be just as well). It was served to me in a tall glass mug with rice milk by a naked man in his squatter hut in the middle of the UC Santa Cruz redwood forest. Be sure when you drink, to include the naked man and the rice milk.
posted by ikahime at 6:58 AM on September 3, 2007

another vote for lapsang souchong. also, the Yunnan TGFOP is good stuff. my usual tea is an irish breakfast blend that's heavy on the assam flavor.

if you're in the US, has a great selection and will ship you little sample packets of tea if you want to try a bunch. they've got all manner of blends and single estate teas.

lately, i've been branching out a bit, trying to find organic or fair trade teas that i like and hoping that the blood of the oppressed isn't what makes it tasty. the Sewpur Estate Organic GFBOP from upton is tasty.

more on fair trade teas at
posted by rmd1023 at 7:01 AM on September 3, 2007

Assam and Ceylon teas are availble in all teashops, and are often used in blends. Example: "An Irish Breakfast Tea might consist of : 3 parts Assam tea, 1 part Ceylon tea. An Irish Afternoon Blend would be softer with: 2 parts Darjeeling tea, 1 part Assam tea, 1 part Ceylon tea, 1 part Keemun tea."

"Darjeeling tea has traditionally been prized above all other black teas, especially in the United Kingdom and the countries comprising the former British Empire. It comes from Darjeeling in West Bengal, India. When properly brewed it yields a thin-bodied, light-colored liquor with a floral aroma. The flavor also displays a tinge of astringent tannic characteristics, and a musky spiciness often referred to by tea connoisseurs as "muscatel." A sweet cooling aftertaste should be felt on the mouth." Try it with cucumber sandwiches.

For a stronger taste, try Pu-Erh: "The brewed tea is darkly red, and has a bold, earthy taste". Pu-Erh is rich in antioxidants and has allegedly several health benefits.

Rooibos herbal tea is also worth trying.

Le Palais des Thés has a very good selection of (expensive) quality teas, and you can order from their website.
posted by iviken at 7:08 AM on September 3, 2007

PG Tips, be sure to match an appropriate biscuit or cake product. This is dealt with here.
posted by zemblamatic at 7:09 AM on September 3, 2007

nthing Lapsang Souchong along with Gunpowder tea - but I have no idea what's in it. Also Rooibos which has an intriguing flavour. But don't overlook the standard British brands if you can find them - PG, Tyhoo, Tetley etc. They are all excellent blends.
posted by poissonrouge at 7:19 AM on September 3, 2007

Daily drink is a Ceylon, Assam or Darjeeling. Crave Earl Grey regularly and Lady Grey is very refreshing.
Green Tea is good for antioxidants (apparently) and Mrs. arcticseal swears by roibos (our local tea shoppe here in Norway has about 15 varieties).
Mighty Leaf has some excellent varieties, but pricey.

Invest in a nice teapot with a built in/removeable strainer and ditch the teabags. Bodum do a nice one, and we swear by our Chatsworth (?) teapot - discontinued but you can find them around if you hunt. My Mother-in-law used to make me buy them in bulk in the UK and ship them to relatives in Canada and Malaysia.
posted by arcticseal at 8:07 AM on September 3, 2007

I 2nd rooibos. it's amazing good stuff, especially with a little bit of vanilla.

If you're getting into tea, i suggest giving Maté a's some amazing stuff, but takes some getting used to.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:40 AM on September 3, 2007

I love tea, I recommend you try Hojicha, it has a very unique flavor due to the leaf being roasted. It's delicious and distinctive.
posted by cloeburner at 8:48 AM on September 3, 2007

Hōjicha and kukicha are lovely but low-caffeine. Both have a sort of mild nutty flavor to them.

In the US you can often find them in hippie-type health-food stores.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:53 AM on September 3, 2007

Or at Asian markets.
posted by cloeburner at 9:16 AM on September 3, 2007

Dittoing PG Tips, which brews a deliciously robust British cuppa. Enjoy with milk.

Presumably you know to have the water come to a rolling boil before pouring it into the teapot or cup ... so many Americans don't enjoy tea because they're never had a properly-brewed cup. (Pitiful tea made with lukewarm water is all you can get most places, so the must-be-boiling message seems worth repeating.
posted by anadem at 9:37 AM on September 3, 2007

Note - "must be boiling" is about black tea specifically, including PG Tips. For mate the water must not be boiling but around 180 degrees F. I don't know the idea temperature for other kinds of teas.

(And imo "tea" refers to the brew from the leaves of the tea plant, not herbal tisanes; the latter can be delicious but it isn't tea.)
posted by anadem at 9:43 AM on September 3, 2007

PG Tips is fab. Barry's Tea is pretty good too. A tea pot makes a surprising amount of difference to the quality of the brew.

Why do Marxists drink herbal tea? Because all proper tea is theft
posted by TrashyRambo at 9:55 AM on September 3, 2007

Head yourself over to TeaSource (the one on Cleveland is the original store, but it's hard to park around there; the St. Anthony one is nice and has parking but it's not exactly in a convenient area.) You can buy a cup or pot of tea at the store so you can try it before buying an entire bag of it. They also do Sample Days on Tuesdays.

TeaSource sells "Earl Green" which is a green tea version of Earl Grey; if you're just starting into greens it's worth a try. I like it a lot.
posted by Electric Elf at 10:06 AM on September 3, 2007

And to add to that re PG Tips: it's just an ordinary British brand of teabags, but it's strong and just full of happy awakening caffeine. (And easy to find without ordering off the Internet. Kowalski's and larger Cub Foods stores in the Twin Cities sell it, for example.)
posted by Electric Elf at 10:10 AM on September 3, 2007

Irish Breakfast is strong (lots of caffeine!) and delicious.

If you like Earl Grey for its bergamot scent and want to try something more powerfully perfumed, Ahmad Ceylon Tea with Cardamom really has a LOT of cardamom. Put lots of milk and sugar in this one. And Ahmad No. 1 is a wonderful everyday black tea, comparable to P.G. Tips.
posted by moonmilk at 10:23 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would have said PG Tips 10 years ago, but now I say Yorkshire (available at most Safeway/Morrison stores).
posted by rhizome at 11:28 AM on September 3, 2007

Russian Caravan - it's a blend of black and Oolong, and is very smoky, although not as much as Lapsang. (Maybe the Lagavullin to Lapsang's Laphroaig).

But don't stop there: order some high quality examples of the major types of different teas, and see what you like.

So for black tea some Assam, some Darjeeling, some Ceylon. Then some blends, like English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, the Lapsangs, the Russian Caravans for black tea with that smoky sensation. Then maybe some oolong, and then some green teas, like some Japanese Sencha and Chinese Gunpowder, and then some white.

posted by reynir at 11:30 AM on September 3, 2007

I go to the local tea shop every Tuesday for my knitting group. This is what I've been loving:

China Rose Tea - An average black tea includes dried rose petals. Adds a delicious rose touch to the tea -- fantastic with lemon.
Lapsang Souchong - Nth-ing the recommendation of this. Just sitting there with the cup warming your hands and that gorgeous smoky smell rising up...bliss
Pu-erh - Difficult to describe, but strong and fantastic.

My husband drinks nothing but Lady Grey, which is proprietary to Twinings. That might make it difficult to find outside of the UK. I personally find it a bit bland and weak, but it does have this lovely citrusy taste to it.

Twinings also makes a delicious Chai tea, which I leave to steep for a long while to make it extra strong.
posted by Katemonkey at 11:47 AM on September 3, 2007

matcha, all the way. It has 10x the antioxidants of regular green tea.

It has caffeine, but the theaninetakes the edge off so you get a calm alertness.

It's fabulous- but get a high-quality variety, and if your stomach is sensitive, drink it with food.
posted by solongxenon at 11:54 AM on September 3, 2007

Jasmine Dragon Pearl
posted by Lanark at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2007

Seconding moonmilk: if you like the bergamot, then get thee to your local Russian grocery for some of the reasonably-priced flavoured teas (usually citrus, sometimes floral), or to the local Middle Eastern or East African place for cardamon-scented teas. They're going to be much cheaper than the premium-grade teas sold in specialist shops or hippe-groceries, and are still pretty high quality.

If you can go without bergamot, then Earl Grey is meant to be based on a 'China Black' (Keemun or Yunnan, or a blend of them both) though many modern blends use Assam or Ceylon leaves for their base. So try whatever blend your Earl Grey is based upon, but do consider starting your search in ethnic groceries before hitting the deep end of specialists in first-flush single-estate varieties.
posted by holgate at 1:24 PM on September 3, 2007

darjeeling, keemun, and ear grey
posted by francesca too at 1:28 PM on September 3, 2007

Did anybody mention Upton Tea? They have a great website and offer Sampler Sets so you can try different teas and for even less of a commitment, you get 15 g samples for (usually unless it's very rare) $1.00 each.

I like their Assam, CTC Irish Breakfast blend, Sacher Blend -- which you might like because it has hints of bergamot and vanilla (although it is a lighter tea -- I don't know if that's a deal breaker for you)
posted by nnk at 1:58 PM on September 3, 2007

Earl Grey Creme is out of this world! A mellower but (if possible) more flavorful tea than regular E.G., with creamy vanilla-ishness (not hokey tasting though, just delicious). You can get it through TeaNY via mail order, but I think they get it from another source, which would probably be cheaper...research!
posted by SixteenTons at 3:41 PM on September 3, 2007

nnk beat me to it, it seems, but i'm going to second him: Upton tea is awesome for trying stuff out.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 9:36 PM on September 3, 2007

Yup, Upton Tea is great. I haven't found anything in England (supposedly the land of tea) that compares to it.
posted by klausness at 7:25 AM on September 8, 2007

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