Whether you have a passion for a well-brewed pot of the stuff or simply opt for a steaming cuppa when you’ve taken your coffee addiction too far (hello, afternoon eye twitch), there’s no excuse for drinking subpar tea. In fact, a mug of tea that’s too weak, too bitter or otherwise uninspired is a worse fate than, well, drinking hot water with a bad aftertaste. Fear not, friends—just drink in our roundup of the very best tea brands to cozy up with this year and you’ll never suffer such a hot beverage bummer again.
Best Green Tea Brands
1. The Republic of Tea
The Republic of Tea has been crafting artisanal tea blends since 1992, when it first started sourcing leaves and herbs from the finest tea gardens around the globe. The smell-the-roses philosophy behind the company (“sip by sip, rather than gulp by gulp”) pairs perfectly with a steaming hot cup of tea. But there’s more to this brand than pretty packaging (though the sleeks tins are quite nice) and tasty tea: Republic of Tea, a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, boasts a business model that supports positive social and environmental change, so drinking this tea will make you feel good in more ways than one. As for the beverage menu, this brand has top-notch blends in every category, but their green teas are especially exciting. If you’re new to green tea, their Honey Ginseng blend is subtly-sweet and pleasantly mild—an excellent introduction that’s oh-so easy to sip.
Yogi, an Oregon-based company that has seen international success, has been using tea leaves and herbs to create healing elixirs for the past 30 years with blends that are inspired by ayurvedic principles. (In other words, this brand was worshipping at the altar of wellness before it was cool.) Their high-quality botanicals and spices are ethically sourced—many of which come from India and South Asia, where Yogi makes an effort to better the local communities while supporting sustainable practices. The end result? A tasty and incredibly successful line of teas you can readily find at the grocery store. But listen up, green tea lovers: One of the best-selling Yogi teas is their Super Antioxidant green tea—a bolder blend with notes of lemongrass and licorice—described by its legions of fans as downright delicious (and healthy, to boot).
3. Jade Leaf Matcha
The Jade Leaf Matcha company specializes in one thing—namely, the Japanese green tea powder known as matcha—and their narrow focus has paid off in the form of high praise. The brand is the brainchild of two enthusiastic matcha drinkers who were fed up with the poor quality products available stateside and took it upon themselves to do something better. All of Jade Leaf Matcha’s goods are produced by a specific network of family-run farms, the Kizuna tea collective, that use methods both new and old to cultivate the tastiest and most nutritious matcha leaves. Suffice it to say, that both the Kizuna collective and the Jade Leaf Matcha brand have done something very right, as their original matcha product has earned tens of thousands of five-star reviews from matcha lovers who swear by its superior flavor and energizing effects.
Best Black Tea Brands
4. Harney & Sons
This East Coast tea brand is, as the name suggests, a family affair. Yep, the Harneys are passionate about tea and it shows in the high-quality fair trade blends they offer, which feature both classic and exotic flavor profiles. For three generations the Harneys have been producing, blending and bagging artisanal teas that make connoisseurs of the stuff swoon. While the Harney & Sons catalog boasts plenty of exciting options, fans of the brand say their Hot Cinnamon Spice black tea should not be missed. Boldly flavored black tea harmonizes with a blend of cinnamon, cloves and orange peel to produce a warming tea with lots of personality. (Tip: Sip on this whenever you’re tempted to get cozy with a mug of mulled wine but could do without the headache.)
Founded by Indian tea enthusiast Bala Sarda, VAHDAM has cut out the middlemen to bring tea lovers mug after mug of the finest ingredients the country’s renowned tea-gardens have to offer—an ethical business model that significantly benefits the farmers themselves, who far too often work for unfair wages. The VADHAM blends are inspired by native wellness rituals and, since they are all composed solely of leaves and herbs that were hand-picked in India, the result is quality you can taste. Don’t take our word for it, though, just try their Earl Grey blend—a fresh take on a classic that combines the superior flavor of long leaf black tea with the heavenly citrus aroma of premium bergamot oil for a well-balanced black tea that’s hard to resist.
Twinings of London has been producing high-quality tea for over 300 years, so it’s safe to say that this tremendously popular English tea company knows what it’s doing. Teas discerningly sourced from Kenya, Malawi and Assam give Twinings’ classic black teas a full-bodied flavor, while ingredients from other regions impart a softer taste for a cup of the good stuff that’s both balanced and complex. You can find Twinings teas, well, pretty much everywhere and, despite their large-scale operation, the company is committed to ethical practices when it comes to sourcing ingredients (so you can drink any blend in good conscience). Not sure which flavor to pick? You can’t go wrong with the Queen’s tea of choice: Twinings classic English Breakfast tea is royally good.
Best Herbal Tea Brands
The Iraq-born, Oakland-based brother and sister duo behind Numi were brought together as business partners by a shared desire to create positive change and, of course, a mutual love of tea. Today, siblings Ahmed Rahim and Reem Hassani advance humanitarian causes through their company and maintain high ethical standards in the production of their gourmet tea blends. In tea, the bigger the leaf, the better the quality—and Numi uses only the fullest tea leaves (alongside rare and exotic ingredients) to achieve blends that are noticeably richer, smoother and more refined than what you get from a run-of-the-mill alternative. Fans of the brand rave about their selection of herbal teas, in particular. Case in point, Numi’s Morroccan Mint: A lively and refreshing tea with the mild sweetness of young spearmint and an aroma that will wake you up without the help of caffeine.
8. Traditional Medicinals
The driving forces behind Traditional Medicinals business practices are “sustainability, ingredient purity, and social and environmental activism,” but you might know them better for their premium line of wellness-centric teas. Traditional Medicinals was founded in 1974 by Rosemary Gladstar—a third-generation herbalist, and now an educator and author on the subject of herbal studies—and Drake Sadler. Although the couple are no longer active in the company, the brand has stayed true to its original vision of bringing natural, herbal remedies to consumers. As such, this company remains a favorite among tea lovers in search of high-quality, herbal blends. Traditional Medicinals has a diverse line of teas with a loyal following, but word on the street is that sipping a cup of their chamomile and lavender blend is a truly divine way to relax (and maybe even drift off).
Teeccino only does herbal—herbal coffee, herbal tea—and they do it well. It was founded in 1993 by Caroline MacDougall, an award-winning tea designer with the goal to create a line of robustly flavored teas and coffee alternatives that satisfy the cravings of tea and coffee lovers alike. Teeccino has succeeded at its original mission with an array of deliciously rich herbal teas, all of which boast health benefits thanks to the blend of organic herbs, fruits and nuts they feature. You might be skeptical about any tea that claims to taste like coffee, but trust us: Teeccino’s Dandelion Coconut tea—with its creamy, chocolaty and slightly bitter profile—will make a believer out of you.
Best Luxe Tea Brands
10. TWG Tea
TWG is a luxury Singaporean teahouse chain, but its celeb approved namesake brand of teas has garnered buzz around the globe. TWG, with its extensive line of single-estate, exclusive tea blends, is the epitome of luxe. What you get for your money is more than just seductive and classy-looking packaging, though: TWG teas are widely recognized for their fine harvest and superior flavor. Fans of the brand sing the praises of just about every blend they offer, so if you’re curious we suggest you treat yourself (or some other tea-lover in your life) to one of their oh-so fancy taster selections—like this classic sampler that includes mouthwatering blends of Earl Grey, chamomile and breakfast tea.
11. Tea Forte
Tea Forte prides itself on offering hand-crafted artisanal teas, which are sourced directly from growers and blended using the finest and rarest ingredients around. (According to their website, Tea Forte ingredients “represent less than one percent of the teas available worldwide.”) These high-end tea purveyors design each delicate, unique flavor with unmatched artistry and their signature pyramid infusers promise the perfect brew (and an elegant aesthetic to boot). Yes, the pleasure of drinking an ultra-luxe cup of tea will cost you a pretty penny—but if you’re looking for a decadent tea-drinking experience, a Tea Forte tasting collection will not disappoint.
Best White Tea Brands
12. Smith Teamaker
Smith Teamaker is a Portland-based brand founded by Steven Smith, a teamaster too humble to accept the title (though fans will tell you that you can taste it in every sip of his stuff). Creativity is at the heart of the Smith Teamaker philosophy, which yields small-batch blends—all of which begin with a moment of inspiration and undergo rigorous tasting before they make their way to your mug. In other words, the mixologist-in-chief does not cut any corners when it comes to crafting an excellent tea. Smith Teamaker’s White Petal tea is a perfect expression of the brand’s devotion to quality: This antioxidant-rich blend of Chinese full-leaf white tea and flower petals is silky, soft and fragrant. Basically, it tastes like new romance.
13. Taylors of Harrogate
Taylors of Harrogate is a Yorkshire-based family business that produces premium coffee and specialty tea alike. When it comes to the latter, the Taylors of Harrogate specialty is in building strong relationships with top-notch farms and cooperatives in tea-growing regions so as to source only the finest and most flavorful ingredients available. The brand has been around since 1886, but its commitment to showing kindness and respect in every aspect of business hasn’t waned over the years...nor has the quality. By upholding the highest standards, Taylors of Harrogate continues to delight its loyal following with more than just its classic Yorkshire tea. Hint: Those in the know say that Taylors white tea—a creamy blend with delicate notes of peach and flower petals—is a pure, soul-soothing triumph.
Best Loose Leaf Tea Brands
Rishi was founded in 1997 by Joshua Kaiser, an avid traveler with a dream to bring the exquisite teas he tasted in Asia to the western world—and the brand has done precisely that. Rishi, a brand that puts a high premium of social responsibility, sources the ingredients for its passionately-crafted line of teas through direct trade with artisan growers. Rishi teas are an ode to the culinary and botanical arts, and you can taste the love in every blend they offer. But if you want to know one of our favorites, try the loose-leaf Peach Blossom white tea. The sweet and dreamy fragrance makes for a soothing brew that tastes like summer...and it’s delicious whether you enjoy it hot or cold.
15. David’s Tea
Born in Quebec, David’s Tea packages its impressive number of palate-pleasing and thoroughly original loose-leaf tea blends in eye-catching canisters that look like keepsakes...but it’s the unique combination of flavors that keep fans coming back for more. As a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, David’s Tea maintains high standards at every stage of the production process, but the way those ethically-sourced ingredients come together is a te(a)stament to the power of imagination. Just try this fruity (think mango, coconut and pineapple) twist on a classic and taste for yourself how tropical flavors commingle with traditional chai spices. Our prediction? Equal parts surprise and delight.