If you’re new to tea, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the infinite variety of brews.
Coffee, for example, comes in only three easy roasts – and, except for a handful of high-end coffee shops – you’re not going to be presented with 15 varieties when you ask for a cup of drip.
Tea, on the other hand, tells a different (and we think, more exciting) story. Even at your most basic neighborhood café – heck, even a Starbucks – when you ask for a tea, you’ll be handed a veritable menu of options.
First, you’ve got your base categories: black, green, white, and herbal. But within those “parent categories” are additional types and flavors – English Breakfast, Jasmine, Chamomile, Rooibos, Early Grey, Passion Fruit, Matcha, Chai, etc. etc.
Plus, you’ll want to consider what you’re looking for out of your tea. Great flavor? A hit of energy? A boost to your immune system?
It’s a lot to mull over and consider, especially for a tea newbie.
That’s why we’ve created a guide to navigating your options, and choosing a tea that you’re gonna freaking love.
Black Tea: The Best Alternative for the Reformed Coffee Drinker
Originally produced in China – but now produced all over the world – black tea is made from camellia sinensis leaves that are highly oxidized. We won’t bore you with the specifics of the chemical process of oxidation – but we will let you know why you might want to choose black tea over all the others.
It will give you a boost.
Black tea typically contains 60-90 milligrams of caffeine per cup, compared to 95 milligrams of caffeine in coffee. So, while it’s not quite as “buzzy” as coffee, it will still help you get that morning (or afternoon) jolt.
It contains antioxidants.
Black tea contains polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. And, as you might already know, antioxidants help to fight free radicals and decrease cell damage – potentially lowering your risk for chronic disease and cancer. We’re not going to tell you that drinking black tea will prevent cancer...but it certainly could help make you healthier.
It tastes great with milk (or an alt milk) and sweetener.
Black tea has a stronger flavor than most other teas, and as a result, tastes great with something milky and something sweet. Not down for cream and sugar? Almond milk and agave go well with most black teas, or oat milk and honey. Just remember to steep the tea long enough (3-5 minutes) to get the full impact.
Green Tea: Black Tea’s Grassier Little Sister
Like black tea, green tea originated in China, but is now produced all over the world – including Japan, India, New Zealand, even South Carolina. Green tea is also oxidized like black tea – but a little less-so. The result? Milder levels of caffeine (30-50 mg per cup), and a lighter, grassier finish. Here’s what else you should know about green tea:
It can help you lose weight.
If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, drinking green tea may help you to do so. How so? The combination of caffeine and a compound called catechin in green tea may help your body to break down excess fat and use up energy. Caffeine may also help to suppress your appetite. Paired with a healthy diet and a solid exercise routine, and you may slim down.
It can help you calm down.
These days, we could all use a little anxiety reduction. Green tea is high in L-theanine, an amino acid that’s been thought to reduce anxiety by increasing levels of GABA and other calming brain chemicals. Calming brain chemicals? Sign us up.
It tastes fresh and grassy.
Green tea’s got a fresh, clean finish that tastes great as is (although sweetened matcha is pretty phenomenal). We all know green tea as pairing well with Asian foods, but an iced green tea also goes great with salad, fruit, and other light fare.
White Tea: Light & Delicate
If you’re looking for a robust brew, white tea is not your best bet. If, however, you’re wanting something light and refreshing you might consider this minimally processed, oxidized variety of tea – made from the same leaf as black and green, but with a distinctly different flair. Here’s what to know about white tea:
It still has caffeine.
Don’t be deceived: despite it’s “lightness,” white tea still contains caffeine, although typically less (30-55 mg per cup) than black or green. Just don’t drink a cup before bedtime, okay?
It contains antioxidants.
Just like black and green tea, white tea is full of antioxidants – which may help reduce the risk of inflammation, cancer, premature aging, and more.
It’s got fruity & floral undertones.
White tea is a bit less bitter than its darker-colored counterparts, with undertones that have been described as honey, melon, peach, apricot, vanilla, and more (yum).
Herbal Tea: For the Naturalist
Unlike black, green, and white teas – which are made from the camellia sinensis plant – herbal tea is instead brewed from various mixes of herbs, spices, fruit, and even bark. Herbal tea may sometimes get a bad rap for being boring, but trust us, it’s anything but bland. Here’s what you should know about herbal:
If you’re looking for a buzz, herbal is not your best bet. But if you’re looking for something you can sip on all day without worrying about getting jittery – go herbal.
It’s got plenty of health benefits.
Just like its caffeinated counterparts, herbal tea has plenty of health benefits – generated from superfood ingredients like reishi mushroom, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and more. If you’re looking for a specific outcome – like a boost to your immune system, for example – you can choose an herbal tea accordingly (we recommend anything with ginger, turmeric, or echinacea for added immunity).
You can play around with the flavors.
Herbal tea is anything but boring. Brewed with the bold, vibrant flavors of fruit and spices, you might even find a caffeine-free alternative that’s as exciting as your vanilla latte...and much healthier.
Finally, Our Recs for Tea You’ll Love from Rare Brew
Finally, we’ve got some specific recs for tea from Rare Brew – high-quality, premium teas with amazing flavor. This is no comprehensive list...but a few of our favorite brews we think you’ll love.
If you like fruity flavors…
If you’re looking for a mental boost...
We recommend matcha mind control – a brew with oolong, pu’erh, coconut, chocolate and more – that’s crafted to reduce brain fog.
If you’re looking for straight-up dessert….
Try dark chocolate cherry. Black tea, real chocolate, cherry. Enough said.
Don’t see anything that you’re super stoked on? Check out the rest of our teas here.
And, for more info about Rare Brew – why we got started, what we’re all about, and why we love tea so freaking so much – click here.