Tea is the second most popular drink in the world after water and many people drink it on a regular basis. It can be overwhelming when starting out if you don’t know where to start. This article offers a complete overview of the best teas for beginners.
Different types of tea
There are different types of tea and the best type to start your tea adventures depends on what you’re looking for and what equipment you already have.
Don’t know where to buy tea online? I made a list of over 300 online tea shops and I keep updating it regularly. You can check it over here
Keep in mind that this article doesn’t include tea bags as those should be avoided altogether. They contain microplastics and are usually lower quality than loose-leaf tea.
Best beginner tea without special equipment
If you don’t have any special equipment to make tea like an adjustable water kettle, a teapot, or anything else required to make tea, there are some great options for you to choose from. You just need a tea strainer and a big mug to get started.
Most people recommend green tea when starting out because it’s one of the healthiest types of tea, but I would avoid those if you don’t have an adjustable kettle. Green tea gets bitter when prepared too hot, which usually happens if your kettle only goes to a full boil. Water temperature has a big effect on tea, especially when brewing green tea.
I recommend sticking to black/red tea when you don’t have a kettle that has a feature to pick a specific water temperature. Black/red tea works well with boiling water as it should be brewed as hot as possible. It also has a pleasant flavor profile, which is good for beginners.
Earl grey tea is citrusy black/red tea blended with bergamot. It’s a simple tea that turns out well, no matter how you prepare it. They serve it in most restaurants and is difficult to mess up if the quality is decent.
Keep in mind that most restaurants serve earl grey in tea bags, which are usually of lower quality. Always go for a loose-leaf version if you have the option.
Drinking a good earl grey tea is one of the best things to do on a rainy afternoon, which is why it’s one of the most popular teas for afternoon tea in the UK.
Another tea that is ideal for beginners is dian hong. Dian hong is a type of red/black tea from China’s Yunnan province.
It’s a tea with a malty flavor profile that always turns out well if you use boiling water.
Chai tea is one of the most flavorful teas as it’s Assam or Ceylon black/red tea blended with traditional Indian spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. It certainly feels spicy and energizing and will certainly warm you up on a cold winter morning.
Adding milk makes it even better as it softens the spiciness and rounds the rougher edges. This has to be the best tea to drink around Christmas as it’s a comforting and warming tea.
Puerh tea is getting more popular and many people like it for various reasons. Shu puerh (or cooked puerh) is a type of puerh tea that goes through artificial fermentation. It’s a great option for beginners but it might not be for everyone because of its distinctive flavor profile.
Cooked puerh has a grounding and earthy flavor profile so it might be too intense for some people. It almost looks like coffee and cooked puerh is relatively high in caffeine.
Shu puerh is very easy to prepare as you need to use boiling water, infuse it for a couple of minutes and you’re done!
Beginner tea when you have special equipment
If you have specific items to prepare and brew tea, you can enjoy way more teas as a beginner. Using a tea kettle that has the option to choose a specific temperature is a must-have if you want to brew green tea.
Using specialized teaware like a small teapot and a set of small teacups might improve the overall experience even more. Brewing tea according to the Chinese Tea Ceremony (Gong Fu Cha) gets the most out of your tea. However, using a strainer and a big mug will also work for the teas below.
Sencha is the most popular type of Japanese green tea. It has a vegetal flavor profile with hints of grass. It’s delicious when it’s brewed using hot water (around 150°F or 70°C), but it also works well as a cold brew. Putting tea in a bottle of water and leaving it in the fridge overnight gives you an ideal refreshment the day after.
I put sencha here because it’s important to stick to the brewing parameters. This implies that you need an adjustable kettle. Most sencha is brewed using 158°F (or 70°C) water. Using hotter water won’t ruin the tea, but it will get really bitter and most people don’t like that.
Sencha that is brewed in hot water is more bitter because more antioxidants get released this way. Antioxidants are really healthy as they help protect your body against free radicals, but they taste bitter.
Hojicha is another Japanese ‘green tea’, but it looks completely different from your average sencha. It’s usually lower in caffeine because it’s made using stems and older leaves.
The brown color is also reflected in the flavors as this is a really warming tea. It usually has notes of caramel, coffee, and dark chocolate. These flavors are loved by many people, which is why it’s an ideal tea for beginners.
A final green tea for beginners is Long Jing (or Dragon well tea). It’s a Chinese tea from Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. It’s one of the most popular types of Chinese tea and it has a distinctive look.
This tea usually has a slightly grassy flavor profile with prominent notes of soybeans and nuts when brewed at the right temperature. Most Long Jing does well when using 176°F (or 80°C) water.
Using hotter water results in more bitter tea as more antioxidants get released at higher temperatures, just like with Japanese green tea.