Herbal Tea PLZ
January 22, 2008 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Recommend me some strong herbal tea?

Had to ditch my beloved caffeine and I'm feeling a little sad on the tea front. I picked up some herbal teas, but most have been kind of weak (notably the Numa and Stash teas). The best have been Tazo's Passion and Orange teas, but those are kind of on the opposite side of the spectrum and scream "OMG WE HAZ FLAVORZ."

I guess I'm looking for something that is a little more subtle, but really, I'm willing to try anything that tastes good. Loose, bagged, whatever, as long as it's caffeine free.
posted by melissam to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I think Revolution Teas are really good- nice strong flavor, especially the mint one.
posted by cushie at 8:01 PM on January 22, 2008

Red tea is nice. Also known as rooibos.
posted by idiotfactory at 8:02 PM on January 22, 2008

Licorice Tea! I love licorice tea so much. (You mentioned Stash as a tea brand you don't care for, but I do love their licorice tea.) It doesn't taste much like licorice to me, just naturally sweet in kind of a nectar-y way. It is my favorite tea ever and I've tried tons.

Generally, I've found that teas with added flavors - i.e. those that list "natural flavor" among the ingredients, rather than getting their just flavor from the natural plant chunks in the bag, taste like they HAS A FLAVOR. If you find a strong-flavored tea you can always try shortening the brewing time a little bit.

I second rooibos (Republic of Tea's plain organic stuff is good), and you can always try a sampler of Celestial Seasonings tea if you haven't already - they have so much stuff, and they're everywhere, and you're bound to find something you'll enjoy.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:27 PM on January 22, 2008

Rosehip & Hibiscus tea, or blends based on that.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:38 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you don't find it weird to mail-order teas, I would recommend browsing through Dragonwater Tea's site. I've ordered a bunch of tea through their site and had a good experience.
posted by txsebastien at 8:43 PM on January 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Bengal Spice contains roasted chicory and carob so might specifically help with easing your coffee longings. It is not subtle but it is cheap and damn tasty.
posted by melissa may at 8:52 PM on January 22, 2008

I think it has *some* caffeine but kukicha is nice. It's kind of toasted / earthy tasting. You can get it at health food stores. If you like the way that tastes, for an iced tea you could try barley tea. It comes in big tea bags that brew in a pitcher of cold water. You can get it at a Japanese market.
posted by JulianDay at 9:13 PM on January 22, 2008

I'm big on the decaf teas. Decaf Chai and decaf Earl Grey do the trick for me.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:27 PM on January 22, 2008

I have to admit that I dislike most herbal teas, as they tend to be very sweet. But peppermint tea is very good - and good for your digestion and breath.

That said, I have been drinking a lot of decaf tea in the evenings - there is almost no cafffeine, and it tastes just like the real stuff. If you haven't tried them lately, it might be worth it.
posted by jb at 9:43 PM on January 22, 2008

Decaf coffee - also tastes like the regular stuff, and almost no caffeine. I can't actually tell the difference when drinking it, and I drink strong coffee.
posted by jb at 9:44 PM on January 22, 2008

I second Celestial Season's Bengal Spice....it is extremely aromatic and tastes like it's full-caff sister, Chai tea (in fact, I still feel like I'm getting away with something!). I drink it almost every night in the fall/winter.

The Republic of Tea makes good teas, too, though pricey. Vanilla Almond in the decaf and Honey Ginseng are my faves.

If you live near a Chinese grocery store, you can get teas very cheaply there, too.
posted by Pocahontas at 9:48 PM on January 22, 2008

I find most herbal teas with ginger to be potent.
posted by HotPatatta at 11:00 PM on January 22, 2008

Another rec for Stash's wonderful, delicious Licorice tea. I thought I was the only one who liked it. :) Stash Lemon Ginger has a good kick to it. Spicy. Also, verbena, but maybe an acquired taste. Yogi teas has some nice kinds, a Thai spice that's very sweet with some coconut in it, and a rooibos chai, lots of spice but no caffeine.
posted by citron at 11:23 PM on January 22, 2008

I agree on the Bengal Spice. And if you brew Good Earth long enough it'll knock your socks off.

I think it has some caffeine, but pu-erh struck me the first time I drank it as tea for people who love coffee. I'm sure you could find it in decaf.
posted by crinklebat at 11:35 PM on January 22, 2008

I enjoy peppermint and spearmint tea quite a bit. Whether I want to feel energetic or relaxed they always put me in the mood I want to be. Chamomile is of course another good option. Adagio has a nice selection of loose leaf and a couple bagged choices. Upton also has a good range of decaf and herbal tea.

In case you go with Adagio, I've got a $5 rebate you can use.
posted by kepano at 12:19 AM on January 23, 2008

Hibiscus tea is wonderfully relaxing, and it tastes amazingly sweet and fruit-juicy for something that's just flowers in unsweetened hot water.
posted by evariste at 1:08 AM on January 23, 2008

Licorice tea is great, esp. as it needs no sweetener (if you're the type to put sugar in tisanes), but something about the Stash licorice tea is off-putting for me. Aveda makes a wonderful licorice-mint tea, which is of course quite pricey, but can be replicated for dirt cheap by going to the bulk herb section of your local grocery/co-op/health food store or similar venue and buying some licorice root and peppermint leaves. (I don't know where you are, but some Whole Foods locations have an extensive bulk herb section, and they're pretty widespread.)

This is actually what I'd recommend for all herbal tea blends, unless you're really stuck on something specific. Buy a bunch of dried herbs--chamomile, rosehips, hibiscus, lavender, raspberry leaf, lemongrass, hawthorn berries, anything that looks good, really, and then start throwing stuff together. You can control the strength by the quantity you put in, and what you choose. Write down your experiments so you can replicate or avoid like the plague, depending on the results. Citrus peels, the aforementioned licorice and mint, and lavender are the ones that pop to mind when I think more assertive flavours.

You mentioned trying Numi--did you have their Dry Desert Lime? It's quite good, just dried lime peel, and can pack a punch for a non-caffeinated tea.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 4:03 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have been all about the Italian Chamomile version of Zhena's Gypsy Tea. The addition of fennel makes it interesting.
posted by stefnet at 4:07 AM on January 23, 2008

And if you want a treat, they're also pricey, but Mighty Leaf makes some Truffle Teas that are also quite good, some of which are also herby. There's a Mint Chocolate Truffle I love, closely followed by the Mayan Chocolate Truffle, which is basically just fruits, a bit of chocolate, and chili (!) for some kick. This might be the one for you ...

Also, take kepano up on the offer for the $5 coupon at Adagio. They're tea-brewing contraption is ideal for loose teas, and you can get that, plus an assortment of tea samples, for a good price.

(Do you like baking-type spices, like cardamom, cinnamon, clove, etc? These can put some stronger flavours in your teas as well, if you're tossing stuff together.)
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 4:12 AM on January 23, 2008

My favorites come from a local store - but a) they ship and b) you can use their mixes as inspiration for making your own.

My general favorite is TeaSource's Red Berries (lots of vitamin C in winter, really good iced in summer, and strong. It's a combination of a lot of dried red berries, unsuprisingly.) I like the Lavenderberry a lot, too. Another source of inspiration and teas is Mrs. Kelly's Teas.
posted by modernhypatia at 4:51 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Try Asian markets in your area for chrysanthemum tea.
posted by gimonca at 5:00 AM on January 23, 2008

Ginger tea is quite interesting if you haven't tried it. Not really your standard tea-bag tea, requiring slicing up ginger and boiling for a little while (a few minutes). It has bite!

Otherwise, a rooibos chai is delicious with honey. Rooibos is a good thing to try if you haven't--they seem to have approximately all of the "normal" tea flavors, just in caffeine-free varieties.

My fallbacks are generally the Celestial Seasonings teas, however. I am a fan of Sleepytime, myself.

Even decaf things can affect me, since it's nearly impossible to remove all the caffeine.
posted by that girl at 5:26 AM on January 23, 2008

Mint and hibiscus will be pretty strong. Try getting the dried hibiscus flowers yourself instead of getting them already ground up in a teabag. They're super cheap and pretty easy to find.
posted by ohio at 5:52 AM on January 23, 2008

Seconding rooibos. I can't have caffeine anymore either, and rooibos (which tastes better the longer it steeps) has adequately filled in when I desire something with a bit more punch than herbal tea.
posted by phatkitten at 6:15 AM on January 23, 2008

I like spicy teas-- Celestial Seasonings's Bengal Spice or the Republic of Tea's Cardamom Cinnamon are my favourites. You can put milk in them, which makes it feel more like "real" tea.
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:33 AM on January 23, 2008

Try Yogi Tea's Cold Season Tea. Among other things it has black pepper in it which gives it a nice kick. It's good as an iced tea too. Definitely strong.
posted by BoscosMom at 8:51 PM on January 24, 2008

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