Tea is unquestionably one of the most favored when it comes to beverages. While coffee is a staple in America, loose leaf tea is widely recognized as the national drink in India and China. You will see this served in almost every restaurant and every household, which should not come as a surprise, given the health benefits of tea.
Tea is extremely popular among the health-conscious population since it is rich in antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids. However, many other people also enjoy tea for reasons other than health benefits. For instance, some prefer drinking tea since it generally has less caffeine than coffee. Specifically, herbal teas contain no caffeine, making them suitable for people who are intolerant or sensitive to caffeine.
Whether you are new to teas or an avid tea drinker, here are the top 10 gourmet loose leaf tea to try out. This list contains a wide range of flavors to match different tastes and preferences, so you will undoubtedly find something that appeals to you.
English breakfast is a classic blend of black teas featuring a rich and smooth taste. It is moderately caffeinated but packs a punch to help give you a boost while taking your breakfast, as its name suggests. Generally, it has a more pungent taste than green tea, making it a suitable choice for the morning when you need some extra alertness.
English breakfast is one of the most popular teas globally, so much that you will find it in almost every cafe and household. Manufacturers typically use two to three types of black tea for this blend, but the most common variants include Assam, Ceylon, Keemun, and Darjeeling tea.
Earl grey is another famous tea variant made with a black tea base. It has a floral taste with citrus notes that come from the infusion of bergamot oil or extract. While earl grey is a widely-recognized tea worldwide, it tends to garner a mixed reaction from the crowd. However, it remains a fan favorite due to its unique flavor.
There are many ways to enjoy earl grey tea based on your preferences. For example, the typical American style is to mix it with milk. On the other hand, the British style is to add a splash of lemon and sugar for sweetness. That said, you can easily also enjoy the tea as is. The aptest way to choose would be to try each version and decide what you like best!
Chamomile tea is another popular loose leaf tea known for its relaxing properties. It comes from the chamomile flower and contains no caffeine, which explains why many include this drink in their bedtime ritual. According to medical experts, chamomile effectively induces sleep since it has apigenin, a compound with a relaxing and soothing effect to promote sleepiness.
In terms of taste, chamomile tea has a mellow floral taste, almost with hints of apple. You can also pour some honey if you want your tea to be a bit sweeter. If you are having trouble falling asleep, try to have a cup of chamomile tea around 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime. It can help calm you and give you a better night’s rest.
Like chamomile, peppermint tea is also herbal, so it is also naturally caffeine-free. It has a minty and sweet flavor that leaves you feeling relaxed and fresh after every sip. Like a mint candy, peppermint tea has a bit of spice that gives you a cooling sensation. However, it is much gentler and more delicate. You can think of the mint as a bit of a tang, but not too overpowering.
Research shows that peppermint tea comes with many potential health benefits. For example, it can help ease digestive issues, relieve a clogged nose, and improve your mental alertness. As a plus, it also freshens your breath, which is always a welcome benefit from any beverage.
Jasmine is another healthy tea made from a flowering plant. It is widely popular in China, especially in Beijing, where the tea’s origins date back centuries ago. Given its origin from jasmine blossoms, this tea is highly aromatic. It has a sweet, delicate, and floral taste that pairs nicely with the natural bitterness of the tea.
Traditionally, jasmine tea is brewed with green tea leaves, but you may also find some variants made with black, oolong, or white tea. Since this tea contains some caffeine, it would be best to drink during the daytime to help you relax and get a mental boost.
You may also know rooibos tea as red bush or red tea since it comes from rooibos bush leaves. It can be quite hard to describe the flavor if you have never tasted this loose leaf tea, especially since it has many undertones. However, for reference, rooibos tea has a robust earthy taste with hints of vanilla. Some variants may also come with nutty notes, which vary based on the blend.
One of the best qualities of rooibos tea is its natural sweetness, which allows you to enjoy the drink without adding any honey or sweeteners. It also serves as a great alternative to black and green tea since it contains no caffeine. In addition, rooibos tea contains many antioxidants that can promote better health, making it a great addition to any part of your day.
Red raspberry leaf is an herbal tea popularly used for medicinal purposes. Historically, this tea has been used for uterine health and pregnancy benefits. It is often also called the woman’s herb since it relieves menstrual discomfort, reduces cramping, and improves reproductive health. However, if you are pregnant, it would be best to consult with your doctor first to ensure that the tea is safe for you.
Unsurprisingly, raspberry tea comes with fruity notes and features a similar taste profile as hibiscus or rosehip tea. However, it is worth noting that raspberry leaf tea is not the same as raspberry fruit tea. While it also has a fruity undertone, its taste leans more towards an herbal tea with a tart and tangy flavor.
Sencha is a Japanese green tea blend that makes the perfect refreshing drink for your day. It has a fresh, earthy, herbal flavor with a fruity or floral aftertaste. Furthermore, since this green tea originates from Japan, you can expect an umami taste from the tea. Essentially, this means that you get the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness to satisfy your sensory profile.
Sencha green tea is known to have many health benefits, which makes it a staple in many homes. Since it is rich in antioxidants, this tea can help fight radicals in your body and reduce inflammation. It may also boost your immune system and make your body stronger and resistant to some diseases.
Masala chai is a tea beverage considered a staple in India but known throughout the world. Its name translates to “spiced tea,” which describes how this beverage is made. Masala chai is essentially black tea mixed with milk, sweetener, and spices like cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. However, you can simply buy Masala chai loose leaf tea and add milk after steeping it in water to make things uncomplicated.
While all black teas can work for this blend, stronger types like Assam are most suitable since it pairs well with the rich spices. As you might expect, Masala chai is a highly aromatic tea that packs a punch with its flavors. It is perfect for drinking in the morning to wake your senses and keep you alert. Or you can also enjoy a cup during lunchtime to get rid of mid-day drowsiness.
While Masala chai is popular in Asia, yerbate made is well-known in countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. It is an herbal tea that comes from the Ilex paraguariensis plant, which is native to different areas in South America. This tea is known to have a relatively high caffeine content, more than the green tea but still less than coffee. Thus, many people in South America prefer yerba mate over coffee.
Yerba mate has a strong bitter and earthy taste with a bit of a eucalyptus scent. Some would claim that it is an acquired taste, so you need to drink it a few times to appreciate the natural flavors. However, this gourmet loose leaf tea comes with science-backed health benefits like increased energy and lower blood sugar, so it is certainly worth trying.
Tea is a delicious and refreshing beverage that comes with many benefits. Whether you need something to power through your day or something relaxing to calm your mind, the loose leaf tea choices above should give you a good idea of what to get. If you are unsure which tea you will like best, you can always try each and decide from there. You never know, you might discover some new tea variants that you never considered before.