Reccomend Some Good Black Teas
October 28, 2007 10:09 PM   Subscribe

Help me find some interesting teas that are a bit less hard on my stomach.

Recently, I've been drinking more and more black tea; I now have access to a hot water tap during the day and brewing tea is so much more convenient than coffee. Plus, it's delicious.

I usually drink between 2 and 5 cups of tea a day -- when I say "cups", I mean a 14 oz Starbucks mug brewed with just one teabag. I've been drinking plain Lipton, which is fantastic but give me some mild heartburn by the end of the day. Plus, I'm looking for a bit more variety.

Are there any alternatives out there? I'm looking for something that ideally still has a bit of caffeine and tastes good without milk or sugar. Are there other black teas that might be a bit less acidic, or green teas that could fit the bill? [Tea bags are preferred for convenience's sake, but if there's a great loose tea, I could look into a teastick or something].

Black teas that I like: Lipton, most Irish Breakfast and Earl Gray, and some of the Stash "flavored" black teas (like the peach black tea). I also like the Assam tea from Trader Joe's. I do not like Rooibos.
posted by rossination to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This site claims that it is probably caffeine that gives the stomach trouble. Black tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but 5 teabags is contending with typical coffee drinker territory. Green tea is less caffeinated (generally). Herbal teas are also lower in caffeine or even caffeine free.

I drink Good Earth tea blends for what it's worth.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 10:19 PM on October 28, 2007

Wait, so you just brew tea with hot water out of the tap? Isn't that kind of gross? I've always heard that you shouldn't use hot tap water for drinking because it tends to dissolve the gunk in the pipes.

You might want to get an electric tea kettle. There's one for $11 from Amazon and you can use it pretty much anywhere you have an outlet.
posted by dixie flatline at 10:28 PM on October 28, 2007

lol. I've seen what rossination is talking about. It's not just 100 degree water from a sink tap. It's the hot water bypass on the coffee machine and it's brewing temperature. At least, I hope that's what we're talking about.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 10:41 PM on October 28, 2007

Ah, never mind then. I was thrown by what "access to a hot water tap" would have to do with anything.
posted by dixie flatline at 10:46 PM on October 28, 2007

Sometimes English Breakfast tea acts as a purgative for me,so I gave it up for yerba mate' I dump a demitasse amount of tea on top of a mug of hot water and drink through a bombilla and add water as needed, starting a fresh brew after lunch. The stimulant effect is smoother than any other brew I know. Yerba mate comes in bags also, but I like the traditional approach,and tell people it is a salad that I drink. Would not hot water from a tap have less minerals? those being deposited in the pipes.
posted by hortense at 11:15 PM on October 28, 2007

Yerba Mate'
posted by hortense at 11:23 PM on October 28, 2007

Response by poster: To clarify -- by "hot water", I mean we've got one of those Culligan-type dispensers that also has an inline heater. It's not quite boiling (and I've read the Orwell essay), but it does just fine.

Keep the suggestions coming!
posted by rossination at 11:24 PM on October 28, 2007

I highly recommend that you try the Black Sampler from Adagio Tea. For $15, you will receive 6 small tins of loose leaf tea that will each brew 10 regular sized cups of tea. The sampler contains:

assam melody - malty tea makes an ideal breakfast-time tea
ceylon sonata - smooth tea from the high plains of Sri Lanka
darjeeling #22 - muscatel summer tea from the Himalayas
golden monkey - robust morning brew from coastal China
keemun concerto - robust morning tea from inland China
yunnan jig - peppery tea from the Yunnan region of China
posted by seymour.skinner at 12:01 AM on October 29, 2007

Even though it doesn't have caffeine I find peppermint tea to be a real pick-me-up. Bit of variation is always good.
posted by gomichild at 12:01 AM on October 29, 2007

English breakfast is like Irish breakfast but milder.

We're drinking orange pekoe at home at the moment, and it's quite nice.
posted by robcorr at 12:06 AM on October 29, 2007

And the "sampler" idea is a good one. You can try a bunch of teas without having heaps left over if you don't like one.
posted by robcorr at 12:07 AM on October 29, 2007

I am a fan of loose leaf black tea, especially Chinese varieties from Yunnan and Fujian. They're easy to find in most tea shops, but make sure they have a good turnover – you want to have it as fresh as possible.

If you really need it bagged go with Adagio and never look back. Getting a tin and a tea-ball seems cheaper though (Adagio has a good selection, so does Upton).

Make sure to read up on the best way to brew tea. If you pay the extra buck you want to be sure to do it right. Using cold water in an electric kettle is a good idea. Make sure to steep black tea at boiling temperature and for the recommended time (usually around 4-5 minutes for a cup).

In case you go with Adagio, I've got a $5 rebate you can use.
posted by kepano at 12:10 AM on October 29, 2007

PG Tips
posted by rhizome at 12:23 AM on October 29, 2007

for loose tea, order a bunch of sample packets from Upton Tea Importers.

if you're concerned about fair trade in your tea, i'd look around
posted by rmd1023 at 5:38 AM on October 29, 2007

There is something in tea that also gives me stomach trouble, and it's not the caffiene because green tea is significantly worse than black and I rarely get upset stomachs from coffee. I've found that cutting the tea with something else helps. I get the loose leaf variety and use only half the recommended amount and then put in something else. Good combos:
fresh or dried mint leaves + black tea or green tea
dried hibiscus flower + green tea or black tea
dried hibiscus + mint leaves + green tea = super yummy!
Genmaicha (green tea with toasted rice) + barley = nutty and complex and wonderful.

The hibiscus flowers can be found at any middle eastern or carribean market, and the barley at any aisian market (barley tea is common in Korea, I think, or in any case the barley often comes in packaging with Korean lettering).

I also try to eat a little something with the tea, which seems to help with the acidity or whatever is causing my stomach upset. Even just one piece of toast will do the trick.
posted by ohio at 5:52 AM on October 29, 2007

I forgot to mention that the hibiscus is what makes that wonderful red color in the Celestial Seasonings zinger teas. It is sweet and astringent at the same time and I've been told has extremely high levels of vitamin C.
posted by ohio at 5:55 AM on October 29, 2007

I like the unique blends from Carol's Special-Teas.
posted by socrateaser at 7:50 AM on October 29, 2007

As a tea-obsessed Brit, I can't emphasise strongly enough what a difference it makes to the end result using boiling water from a kettle, rather than the hot water tap. Every single British household has a kettle (honest!), and it's always surprising to realise this is not universal.
You might want to experiment a bit to see if you prefer fruit or herbal teas. Personally, I prefer herbal. I really love fennel tea, but also peppermint and genmai mugi cha. And if you are feeling a bit more creative you can just chop up some fresh ginger and add a bit of honey to the boiling water - especially comforting if you have a bit of a cold.
posted by Marzipan at 8:08 AM on October 29, 2007

We chanced on a nice brew recently: Gynostemma tea. Google will tell you of sources. It's non-caffeine but refreshing and probably lightly stimulant too. I've given up my evening cup of black tea and drink gynostemma now for better sleep.

Mostly we ditto rhizome and drink PG tips ... must have plenty of milk (not soymilk) in it, otherwise it can be bothersome to the tum (though I'd find four or more pints a day of black tea hard to handle!) Milk lessens the effect of the tea's tannin on the stomach; maybe the tannin binds to the fat in the milk.

Drinking oolong tea might give you less trouble. It's black but is matured differently (I think) than other black teas so has less-developed tannin.

Btw if you try yerba mate, don't have the water too hot or the taste is spoiled; around 175 F is much better than near-boiling. Mate from a bombilla, yum, delicious.
posted by anadem at 8:53 AM on October 29, 2007

If you have a British friend, have them send you a box of ordinary store brand tea. It is *so* much better than even the priciest tea in the US.

And like Marzipan says, every household here has an electric kettle, just as every house in the US has an automatic coffee maker. The electric kettle is one of the very few things you can get cheaper in the UK than in the US.
posted by happyturtle at 2:09 PM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I do have an electric kettle, and I suppose I'll do a better job of using it now that I've had enough Brits tell me it really does a better job.
posted by rossination at 2:27 PM on October 29, 2007

I may be able to answer the black-tea-upset-stomach sub-question. I always wondered why I could drink coffee like crazy, but got an upset stomach from a single cup of weak black tea. As it turns out, black tea is "fermented" (not really but a similar process) which means it contains (as a matter of course or just usually, I'm not sure) trace amounts of mold. Green or white teas do not. Most people are allergic to mold to some extent. My experimentation does show that green/white tea cause me no problems...
posted by sarahkeebs at 2:44 PM on October 29, 2007

I get acid reflux and subsequently been forced off drinking coffee, but tea lacks the boldness of coffee. I've deeply enjoyed Good Earth's Chai Tea, comes in a purple box with gold foil stamp lettering. Also TJ makes chai powder caf and decaf, but it can be a bit sweet.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:30 PM on October 29, 2007

Tea is such a wonderfully varied substance.

I drink on a regular basis:
- orange pekoe (this is my standard black tea)
- darjeeling
- irish breakfast
- green tea
- green chai tea
- black chai tea (hot; I like pepper in mine, with just a touch of honey)
- red chai tea (roobois; fascinating stuff; usually a sweeter chai)
- green + mint tea (with sugar or without)
- peppermint tea
- ginger and honey tea
- ginseng, green and honey tea
- various herbal infusions

... I love tea. And except for the plain black varities, I drink it without milk. Also, except as noted, without sugar. Most of the chais I make from the tea leaves + chai spices myself.
posted by ysabet at 9:14 PM on October 29, 2007

A bit late here, but I wanted to correct some misinformation:

As it turns out, black tea is "fermented" (not really but a similar process) which means it contains (as a matter of course or just usually, I'm not sure) trace amounts of mold.

I don't think this is true. Tea "fermentation" is not at all like actual fermentation -- it's just oxidation, which has nothing to do with mold. The only kind black tea that would have any mold in it is pu-erh, which is apparently aged and deliberately allowed to grow a mold. But you would know if you were drinking pu-erh, since it's a specialty item (I've tried it, and I thought it was pretty unpleasant, but some people obviously like it).

As for the effect on your stomach, it could also be due (as anadem mentions) to the tannic acid in tea (the tannic acid is what gives tea its astringency). Some black teas are more tannic than others, so you may have to just try out several different varieties. I've found that some Yunnan teas (unfortunately, mostly pretty expensive varieties) can be less astringent. Also, you may want to try Oolongs, which are "semi-fermented" (that is, halfway between a green and a black tea, though the taste is different from both).

Also, I would second (or third or fourth...) Marzipan's recommendation to use boiling water. What I do at the office is to take the hot water from the water dispenser and heat it to boiling in the microwave.

Oh, and as for PG Tips, I drink that with milk every morning, but I think it's well-nigh undrinkable without milk.
posted by klausness at 4:12 AM on November 6, 2007

And one more thing.... I'd second the recommmendation for Upton Teas. They have a great selection of very good teas.
posted by klausness at 4:14 AM on November 6, 2007

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