The best teas for every time of the day
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- Tea is the most popular beverage in the world after water. It's also one of the oldest, and it's the center of a wide range of traditions all around the globe.
- There's a variety of tea that's perfect for every time of the day from the first cup of the morning to your before-bed relaxation brew.
- Because there are so many different types of tea out there, we gathered up a collection of the 10 best teas to carry you through the entire day.
- Our top picks include teas from Bigelow, Vahdam Teas, Guayaki, Twinnings, Harney & Sons, Tealyra, Celestial Seasonings, and Traditional Medicinals.
All true teas, including black, green, white, and oolong, are brewed from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. This evergreen shrubby tree is native to China, where tea originated several thousand years ago, but now grows in many areas of the world, especially in semi-tropical climates.The leaves take on a slightly different flavor depending on where they are grown, and there are quite a few cultivators of Camellia sinensis as well, each with its own unique characteristics, so although all tea is from the same plant, there are seemingly endless varieties to choose from.
There are four main categories of true tea. While all are made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, they differ in the way the leaves are processed.
- Black tea, the most common and popular type in the west, is brewed from withered, oxidized (exposed to oxygen to break down the plant's cells), and dried tea leaves. It's dark in color, strong in flavor, and contains roughly 60-90 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. By comparison, coffee has approximately 100 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
- Green tea is not oxidized but simply withered and dried, producing a pale gold or green tea with a mild flavor. There's around 35-70 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup. Matcha is made from powdered green tea leaves.
- White tea is the least processed. The leaves are picked and dried without first withering. White tea has a delicate, fresh flavor and roughly 30-50 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
- Oolong tea is somewhere between black and green tea in flavor and caffeine content. It's only partially oxidized before it's dried, and the leaves are often rolled or stretched.
Note that herbal brews, while commonly called herbal teas, aren't technically tea at all, but rather, herbal infusions. And of course, there are several other plants brewed into "teas," including yerba mate and rooibos.
As a tea enthusiast, I would be remiss in not adding a caution that the water you use is nearly as important as the tea. For the very best results use filtered or pure bottled water rather than tap, which tends to unpleasantly alter the flavor of the brewed tea. And don't pour boiling water over your teabag. You'll get the best taste from water that's below 200 degrees for most types of tea.
Here are the best teas you can buy:
- Best teas for early mornings: American Breakfast or Guayaki Traditional Yerba Mate
- Best teas for late morning: Twinings Irish Breakfast or Vahdam Original Chai
- Best afternoon teas: Harney & Sons Paris or Tealyra Imperial Dragon Jasmine Green Tea
- Best after-dinner teas: Harney & Sons Peppermint Herbal Tea or Decaffeinated Constant Comment
- Best before-bed teas: Tension Tamer or Organic Chamomile with Lavender
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
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