Tea Pantry

28th February 2008

My canister of Jasmine tea pearls.

Tea makes me feel safe. It helps me write, it keeps me awake past 8:30 when we have company, it soothes my aches when I feel defeated.

I carry tea in my purse when we travel to alleviate homesickness, and generous friends have brought me so much tea that it fills a chest of drawers in our entryway.

Lately I’ve been reducing my collection to teas I can’t live without. A lot of them are from The Republic of Tea, because I get them in bulk at my local market, but there are a few others as well.

I’ve been collecting vintage tea tins with an eye to building a shelf for the essentials. So here’s what will live there:

Black Teas

Kusmi Prince Vladimir Tea (loose leaf)
This smells as good as it tastes–a bit spicy, with a lot of floral and citrus. One of my top-two favorite teas.

Earl Grey by Mighty Leaf
This is traditional pick to have on hand for guests who just want a familiar cup of black tea.

Green Teas

Jasmine Pearls
Green tea and jasmine blossoms hand-rolled into little pearls. This is my other favorite tea, and I tend to keep a pot of it nearby while I work throughout the day. It makes the house smell great. I get mine from Chinatown, or friends who make business trips to China, but the tea linked above is the one you’re most likely to find at a gourmet foods shop.

Mystery Tea from China
Bryan was working in Urumuchi, China a while back and brought back exceptional teas for me. All the packaging is in Chinese though, so I have no idea what I’m drinking. My favorite isn’t long and grassy like most green tea. It looks like dark, balled leaves when dry, and unfurls into whole leaves with stems when brewed. It has a light, floral flavor. Any ideas?

Herbal Teas

Ginseng Peppermint by Republic of Tea
Strong, spicy mint tea with a sweet aftertaste. Similar to the sensation you get after you’ve eaten an artichoke and take a sip of water. My favorite herbal.

African Nectar by Mighty Leaf
I tend to find herbal teas too weak for my tastes, but this is a nice, strong, fruity herbal that I have when I’m too wired to drink another cup of real tea.

I also like plunking a big bunch of fresh mint or ginger in hot water to make a tisane when I’m avoiding caffeine.

Iced Teas

Good Earth Original
Good Earth makes flavorful bagged teas (I like their sweet Green Tea blend too), but this one is the best. It’s very sweet even without sweeteners, and is a strong cinnamon and spice flavor. Refreshing on ice.

Ginger Peach
by Republic of Tea
Exactly what it sounds like, and great cold (with or without sugar).


Mate Latte by Republic of Tea

For when I need a caffeine boost, or if I’m craving milk in my tea. It smells like cocoa, and has strong, comforting vanilla notes.

So those are the all-stars.

If you’d like to start trying better teas, but don’t want to give up the ease of using tea bags, you can’t go wrong with Mighty Leaf and Tea Forte. I find they’re some of the best whole-leaf teas that come in bags. I used to evangelize Steep Teas because they’re tasty and the matchbox packaging is bangarang, but now I can’t find the matchboxes online anymore. Boo.

If you’re a tea drinker, leave your favorites in comments.

111 thoughts on “Tea Pantry

  1. Bertha

    My favorite tea is ‘Awake’ by Tazo, which is a black tea that I get at Starbucks on my way to work every morning. I get it in a large cup with 2 bags. I also love Republic of Tea’s Blackberry Sage black tea, which is also awesome on ice.

  2. Rita

    Oooh, for a special afternoon pick-me-up, I LOVE Russian caravan tea – pine-smoked black tea.
    It tastes like the good parts of camping.

    And for breakfast, Irish Breakfast.

    All loose-leaf, all the time, though I DO always carry an emergency teabag in my wallet.

  3. Stella

    Twinings Yunnan blend, although this is no longer being imported to Australia.


    I also love expensive Chinese black tea, the kind my Chinese friends bring me from Guangzhou with incomprehensible packaging. They tell me you need to start at $200/kilo for the good stuff, up to $2000/kilo for the *really* good stuff.

  4. Elizabeth

    I’ve had good luck ordering from Adagio Teas. I like their spiced green tea in particular.

    And I have to agree with you about the iced ginger peach from Republic of Tea–absolutely delicious.

  5. Kate

    I LOVE Vanilla Bean Tea by Mighty Leaf. It tastes like a treat and is just the ticket to keeping me up past my bedtime when I need to be!
    This is a great list – thanks, from a tea drinker!

  6. liz

    so i’ve recently discovered tea gschwendner… which has international locations, but the downtown chicago shop is particularly great.

    they’ll brew you anything from their collection to try, which i love, because it’s not a super secret surprise when you try something new… that ends up costing $30 to try.


  7. LA BLogger Gal

    I love the black teas. Right now I’m loving Adagio’s Irish Breakfast and Republic of Tea’s Assam breakfast. When I need something more mellow, I go for Aveda’s Comfort tea or Throat Coat.

  8. Melissa

    We primarily drink Tazo ‘Zen’ green tea, which has both lemon and minty notes – a nice alternative to plain generic green tea, which we brew in larger batches to make iced. We go through so much of it that the budget can’t handle anything fancy.

    Right now I’m having a cup of peppermint something that my husband made me. I have to write a paper and it’s helping me get started, right after I finish reading my blogs :)

  9. Alex

    The best tea I’ve ever had was from Mariage Freres in Paris. You can order from their online store, and occasionally their teas will show up in gourmet stores in the US, but for the full experience you have to go to their salon in the Marais. Your waiter will tell you which tea would best accompany your lunch order, and then you can buy loose tea from ridiculously handsome men in dark green suits. My favorite is a blend called “Inde: the des maharajahs.”

  10. sandra

    No specific comments about teas, but have you ever been to the Boulder Teahouse in Boulder, CO? They have a fabulous tea menu and it’s a heavenly setting.

  11. Tricia

    It took High Tea at the Empress Hotel in British Colombia to get me to truly enjoy a good cup of tea. I like the Empress Orange Pekoe with a touch of milk and the Berry Berry as an herbal. Thankfully they take phone and web orders. My 2nd favorite herbal is the Citrus C from Peet’s. I love the hibiscus in both of the herbals.

  12. Gloria Chen


    How about a picture of the packaging of that mystery tea? You do have readers that are Chinese, I imagine. I for one am!

  13. sinda

    Oh Maggie, I was ready to comment before you even asked me to. I LOVE Traditional Medicinal’s Roasted Hojicha Green tea. It has the most marvelous mellow flavor – not as sharp as many green teas – and a smooth finish. It’s the one I carry in my purse, stock in my office, and have in my hotel room right now.

    I also like their Cold Care tea when I’m all congested.

    Thanks for the inspirational post!

  14. grouchiosa

    My favourite tea is Lipton’s Russian Earl Grey. It smells wonderful and tastes great :). They’re in little fabric pouches instead of the typical bag. Unfortunately I can’t find it here in Malaysia so I beg my boss to buy several boxes each time he travels to Paris.

  15. China Travel

    plain, tea taster’s term to denote dull liquor with sour taste plucking, the process of harvesting the tea by cutting the flush from the growing tea shrub. polyphenols, astringent compounds present in tea pu erh, a type of tea most notably from the Yunnan province of China. Damp green tea that has been fermented microbiologically to a black leaf. puerh, a type of tea most notably from the Yunnan province of China. Damp green tea that has been fermented microbiologically to a black leaf. China Travel

  16. Sarah

    I have to second the recommendation for Upton Tea Imports (uptontea.com). I drink their flavored black teas almost exclusively and have been ordering from them for years. My current favorites are the New England Harvest Blend, Russian Caravan, Scottish Breakfast, and East Friesian Sunday Blend.

    Since I now have a five-month-old, though, sometimes I can’t sit around waiting for my loose tea to brew (I use a mesh tea ball), so I use Republic of Tea’s Vanilla Almond as my instant tea.

    I drink all my teas plain and strong. :) Thanks for such a great tea list!

  17. Sara

    I love the tea from a small, California business called Gypsy Tea (www.gypsytea.com). I went to college with the founder; her teas are all so tasty. I really enjoy the Raspberry Earl Gray. In Portland, we have a spot called the Tao of Tea. When we were childless, I enjoyed going there on dates and really savoring the tea and food served there. About the mystery tea — I was going to say oolong as well. I’ve had the very good fortune of enjoying oolong in the mountains of Taiwan, a National Geographic adventure I won’t soon forget.

  18. zan

    Mmm. Tea. A favorite and comforting topic.

    Being that The Husband is British, the household goes into panic mode whenever we’re low on PG Tips. Yorkshire will do in a pinch. Aside from the standard black tea, Adagio Jasmine with honey got me through a bad cold recently, and loose leaf chamomile (I get mine from the local independent coffee shop) is a must for the cupboard to remind me of the first time I tasted it in a kitchen in Riga and thought it was some magical Latvian potion.

    Thanks for your recommendations.

  19. Lizzie

    I like rooibos, African red or “bush” tea. It is an herbal tea, no caffeine. Republic of Tea has several versions, I like Safari Sunset (with spices) and Capetown Harvest (with blossom and fruit flavors)

  20. gigirose

    I’m a bit of a tea snob & I love to buy bulk loose teas from Harney & Sons, a family company that has been blending tea for decades. Their tasting room are like an old apothecary shop & their catalogs are full of stories about where the leaves originate.

    I especially love their Queen Catherine & Supreme Breakfast blends.

  21. rachellake

    My mother started every day with a cup of tea, and it’s carried over to me.
    I really love Whittard’s Afternoon Blend w/jasmine and bergamot, as well as Republic of Tea’s Blackberry Sage, Tazo’s Joy, and Twining’s Irish Breakfast.

  22. Gwen

    I drink PG Tips in the morning, with a touch of sugar and milk, a habit picked up from working at a company with an amazing kitchen stocked by Brits (though it being southern California, I’d have avocado on toast along with my tea).

    My favorite non-caffeinated tea is called Heaven Rooibos from Steap in Philadelphia (link below). It smells like Thin Mints, and has an amazing flavor without being too sweet. I drink it with milk, no sugar. It’s great for when I’m craving cocoa or something warm but don’t really feel like drinking a cup of candy.

    The coffee shop across from my school carries Mighty Leaf, which is great when I need a midday boost — I’m a big fan of their Organic Earl Grey.

  23. Tracey

    I recently discovered Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast — very strong and very cheap. Plus, no strings or staples, which I feel better about. I like Choice Teas green jasmine too. I’m going to try the Jasmine Pearls for sure.

  24. la_florecita

    I love green teas as long as they’re not fruity or minty. Anything ending in -cha, really: matcha, sencha, genmaicha.

    One flavor I keep coming back to (that does not end in -cha) is Republic of Tea’s Honey Ginseng Green Tea. I love that stuff! Just the right amount of sweet.

    This past summer my boyfriend and I were vacationing in Durango, CO. He had a stomachache so he got some tea called Earth at a restaurant. The next day we went to the local shop where it was made and bought a whole tin of it. I highly recommend it.


  25. Kayla

    Bengali Spice by Celestial Seasonings. Cheesy box with a tiger, but the best tea ever with soy milk and honey. I used to go through a box every three days (20 tea bags) when I lived in Milwaukee.

  26. sarah

    I adore rooibos. Yogi Tea has a great chai rooibos. I can’t have any caffeine any more, but I miss black tea, especially Earl Grey. A good Irish Breakfast with honey and lemon when I had a cold was so healing.

    Anyway, what is up with Mighty Leaf not listing ingredients? It irks me.

    Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla Red is a great cheap vanilla rooibos.

    Good Earth rooibos is awesome too.

  27. laila

    I would guess that your mystery Chinese tea is green oolong. It has a very different flavor if it hasn’t been fermented.

    Since you are in SF, do you ever frequent Lupicia (a Japanese tea company)in Stonestown? They have lovely green and black teas in an unbelievable variety of flavors.

    My latest tea obsession is green matcha tea powder on vanilla ice cream. Pure heaven.

  28. millimeter

    Black Tea: Lady Grey (Twinings), Earl Grey French Blue (Mariage Frere), and Lovejoy’s Blend (Lovejoy’s tea room, SF).

    Rooibos: I second Mighty Leaf’s African rooibos, and Mariage Frere’s Rouge Vanille (with milk and honey).

    Mystery tea: Could it be oolong? My favorite is DongDing (cold roof) Oolong. Hands down the most refreshing cold tea I’ve ever had (great hot, too).

    Herbal: Mighty Leaf mint melange and Tazo’s Refresh.

    Chai: I like to use the Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice (brew in pot with heated milk).

    I also love flowering jasmine tea that come in tight balls, which unfurl as you pour hot water on them. So pretty, and tasty.

    I’m pretty certain that a Mightygirl hosted tea party would have big draws! I’ll bring the scones and handwash the china.

  29. lane

    I used to love Mighty Leaf teas, and one of my very favorites was their black vanilla tea. I miss it now that I’m in New Zealand where it’s not available. I’d recommend it as an alternative for guests who, like me, aren’t into earl grey but love a nice cup of black tea.

  30. Michelle

    I’ve never been a tea drinker, but I recently had some excellent tea at the Northern Ireland Parliament building, and that paired with the multitude of tea shops in central Dublin has made me want to explore the beverage more. Perhaps I’ll use your faves as a guideline for my taste-testing. :)

  31. sandra

    I’ve been going through tea phases lately, but I know all this started when I bought a loose leaf orange pekoe in Malaysia. Great stuff. Current favorites include genmaicha (mmm toasted rice flavor), loose leaf chamomile, and a spicy cinnamon-orange black tea which is so potent that it will seriously punish you if you let it steep too long. I love it. My favorite grocery store teas are the Celestial Seasonings apple cinnamon herbal and the Tazo green ginger.

    Thanks for this post! I’m looking forward to trying some of the recommendations from the comments as well.

  32. Spandrel Studios

    Mariage Freres The Rouge Bourbon, a vanilla-scented rooibos tea that my friend made for me when I visited her in Paris after a long sleepless overnight flight. Comfort in a cup that always brings back great memories.

    Mighty Leaf’s Chamomile Citrus has all kinds of other good things in it to jazz it up (and they list the ingredients on their website). Also, I’m all about fabric and texture, and I love the little silken pouches that show off the gem-like ingredients inside.

  33. Mykal

    Kusmi tea’s are the best! If you can find their bagged tea it is excellent also, it’s the same quality as the loose leaf (many companies use cute leaf tea in the bags, but loose leaf is whole tea) and the bags are muslin.

    My favorite Kusmi’s are Boquet of flowers and Troika and of course prince vlad.

    Taylors of Harrogate has excellent loose leaf, with exceptional Earl Grey.

    For green tea I was lucky enough to get a chance to go to Japan recently. There is an awesome green tea shop in Kyoto, Ippodo. We got some excellent Gykuro and Sencha also we got some genmaicha(green tea with roasted rice). Ippodo does ship overseas, it’s pricey but defiitely worth it. It can be quite difficult to find high quality green teas in the states.

    It’s especially hard to find the bancha’s, which there is such a wonderfull selection of with hojicha(roasted green) and genmaicha being the best bancha’s in my opinion.

  34. Sean

    I love Harney & Sons loose tea. I have various tins in my cubbard, but always seem to go to the Irish Breakfast tea. It reminds me of sitting hungover in Dublin with my family, slowly awakening to a new day, while waiting for my eggs and sausage to arrive.

  35. Tara S.

    If you like Rooibos, check out MiTea’s South of France Rooibos, with hints of blueberry and lavendar. I can hardly stay away from the stuff.

    I’d also highly recommend Upton Importers. I like their British and Irish Breakfast blends (great with cream), as well as the China Yunnan East Frisian Assam.

  36. Ken

    As far as tea infusers go, I love the IngenuiTea infuser from adagio.com. (their tea is wonderful as well)

    It’s such a clever design!


  37. Megan

    People love tea!

    My ultimate staple is peppermint – any kind’ll do – b/c it’s pleasant to drink, mixes with the another staple (chamomile, of course – I like Argo from Chicago or any loose, chunky kind that’s whole, tried flower heads) and crucial for the occasional upset stomach. Wipes out heartburn like *that*.

    Other than that: a rotating supply of various herbals, blacks and greens.

  38. Mari

    Pomegranate white tea with safflowers

    Rooibos Raspberry

    Rooibos after Eight – chocolate & mint flavors

    Monkey Picked Ti Kuan Yin Oolong, mostly because of the name

    Rooibos African Jewel

  39. Kim

    Went wedding dress shopping with a girlfriend last weekend, and happened across this place in Seattle that was doing a tea tasting…stopped by and loved every moment! They are located by the Pike Place Market in Seattle, and they also have shops in Chinatown in SF! http://www.vitaltleaf.com/ One of my favorites was a handful of the Siberian Rose with a pinch of the Osmanthus. So pretty and floral!

  40. Jenny Brooks

    Adiago – Fruit Medley
    Celestial Seasonings – Sweet Thai Chai
    Trader Joes – Peppermint, Orange Rooibos
    Repubilc of Tea – Acai Green

  41. CORI

    Finally a world of tea drinkers! I always carry tea in my purse because at every conference I attend it seems like everytime they bring out the coffee pots and I have to beg for a pot of hot water.

    Because I travel quite a bit for work I have to stick to the bagged teas. I must second the recommedation for Tea Forte. A bit pricey but excellent teas.

    After reading the comments I think I might have to try the Mighty Leaf teas too.

  42. Kari

    There is a wonderful tea distributor in Minneapolis called “Mrs. Kelly’s Tea”. (www.mrskellytea)

    I prefer yerba mate to tea, and they offer their many of their blends in either a mate, tea, or rooibos base. My favorites from them are: Spicy chai mate (with or without milk); Mango Tango mate; Market Mint (herbal); and Earl Grey Mate. Also, their packaging is visually pleasing – classic loose tea in small silver tins.

    My other favorite Lemon Mate by Tazo. Wonderful blend of lemon and ginger with cardamom and licorice.

  43. joanne

    I adore tea. Life is boring without it. I love a good Earl Grey, or Kusmi’s Natasha blend as a more English tea. Otherwise it’s Jasmine Pearls and Oolong for me too. A couple of years ago my mom went to China and brought back this heavenly black tea, it was Lychee scented. We found a local tea shop in Chinatown that sold a similar blend, just not as expensive about $20 per pound. I go through a pound in the summer making ice tea with it. It has a nice fruity flavor, almost like apricots. I will make a gallon and sweeten it with 1/2c sugar for the family. I usually end up making two gallons a day in the middle of the summer.

  44. Evolving

    Oh I’m such a tea snob! So much that I won’t even buy Republic and try not to drink it. Seriously. That being said, I’m in love love love with earl grey. I know it’s so basic, but it’s so delicious too! My boyfriend has a bunch of tea he brought back from Morroco and these are so delicious!

    As for your mystery tea: I think almost any tea leave can be balled up like that. As long as you have a full leaf. But yours sounds like a nice silver leaf tea.

    Have you ever tried the blooming flower teas?? SO AMAZING! The leaves are hand sewn together and as they steep they bloom. AND they’re yummy. Absolutely MUST be sipped from a clear glass mug, to get the full effect.

  45. Jessica

    My current favorite is Meditative Mind by The TeaSpot. It’s a white tea base with actual rosebuds & jasmine pearls in it. And since it’s loose leaf tea, they’ve got great cups & mugs to steep the tea in, with ceramic infusers that match. Much more fun & tasty than tea bags!

  46. HTMLMonkey

    I love just about everything from Mighty Leaf & Teavana. My absolute favorites are both from Teavana (loose leaf):
    – “Snow Geisha” a white tea
    – “Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls” a green tea
    – “Assam Golden Rain” a black tea

  47. Sara

    My favorite is a loose tea that you can get at Teavana, called Biscotti Almondina. SO yummy, really an indulgent tea. I also like Republic of Tea’s Vanilla Almond, Tazo Awake, and anything flavored with peach.

  48. Jackie

    I’m a huge chai tea fan. My favorites are a masala chai from Steap in Philadelphia (their coconut chai is also nice) and Tazo’s chai when I don’t feel like messing with loose leaves.

    Thanks to Gwen in comment 27 – a fellow Philadelphian & Steap fan – I think my husband bought me some Heaven Roobios for Christmas but I haven’t yet tried it. I think I will right now!

  49. Alyce

    Good Earth Original
    (do you remember when there was a GE restaurant in Larkspur Landing – just steps from the ferry?)
    Earl Grey with honey
    Jasmine Silver tips & Jasmine Green combos
    Peppermint when I need a pick me up

    I like the ritual of tea making and coffee making almost as much as the product itself.

  50. Seattleite

    When I lived in St. Paul, MN, I bought my tea in bulk from TeaSource (www.teasource.com). The owner travels all over the world to the tea plantations to make sure that the product is of the highest quality and the workers are being treated fairly. This is where I truly developed a passion for tea. My favorites are China Black Special (a Guangxi), Monk’s Blend (a black tea with flowers), and Green Melange (Sencha with berries and rhubarb). They ship their tea, but if you’re in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, I strongly advise a trip to TeaSource–they will let you sample and smell all those glorious teas, and they will take the time to teach you something, to deepen your appreciation for tea.

  51. Tina

    I love Republic Teas as well as Tea Forte. Their winter collection was AMAZING! I also like to visit the cute little Teavana store and taste all of their samples, look at the cute little pots that they have on display and buy the loose leaf tea. LOVE their selection of white teas and their steeper that you sit RIGHT on your cup to brew your tea. LOVE IT! http://www.teavana.com

  52. steph

    ooh – what a great post. Two things I am never out of: tea and pasta. And I am always looking for new teas to try, so I will have to make note of some of these. My current favorite is Tazo organic chai (chai masala), which is pretty close to the stuff you get in Indian restaurants around here. Excellent with half & half.

    I was going to guess that your unknown chinese tea was jasmine, but it seems you know well enough what that tastes like so maybe that’s not it? OR maybe it’s a jasmine *black* tea instead of green (which is what I usually keep).

    I recommend having some of your peeps over for a tea party. It’s a good way to use some of that tea you horde. I did that last weekend, myself, and it was wonderful… And you could go shop for some nice antique teacups for the party, so… win/win.

  53. Heather

    Double Earl Grey (double the amount of bergamot) with lavendar flowers. (leaves)

    Mighty Leaf Chamomile citrus – puts me to sleep quickly!

    Jasmine green tea (leaves NOT in a tea bag)- my everyday tea.

    Favorite iced tea is orange rooibos. So summery and fresh.

    For guests who think the double Earl Grey is too strong, a good Darjeeling leaf tea is a safe bet.

    And for when I feel sick or nostalgic, Constant Comment tea.

  54. Heather

    In no particular order:
    1. Teavana Ginger Peach Apricot mixed with Teavana Peach Tranquility Herbal Tea
    2. Teavana Raspberry Herbal Tea mixed with Teavana Rooibos Lemon Twist (Great iced tea)
    3. Tea Gschwender Black Christmas Tea mixed with Tea Gschwender Blood Orange Fruit Tea
    4. Revolution Citrus Spice Herbal Tea

  55. Nicole

    I love a variety of teas, most recently a good hibiscus mint on a hot day. Did you pass around the mate with the locals in Argentina? That’s the only way I’ve experienced mate, but I need to try the ones I’ve seen here.

  56. Priya

    I’m by no means a tea connisseur (sp? Typing on my sidekick sucks), but my mom says that Red Rose tea (available at supermarkets) is somehow the best – by far – for making chai, the Indian way. Making it has always made me feel at home, no matter where I am.

  57. Lin

    I just posted a pic of my tea drawer in my 2/22 blog posting. For Valentine’s Day I had Mighty Leaf send my husband 100 of their Organic Breakfast tea bags. I have a sorry white trash Brit streak that runs right through me and can’t live with PG Tips. I like the Mighty Leaf green with citrus overtones, as well.

  58. jo-anne in vancouver

    Rose Petal tea from Silk Road in Victoria, BC. I’ve ordered many, many a tin from them for delivery to Vancouver. It’s almost time for the next one – http://www.silkroadtea.com/black_teas.htm. For me it’s the ~only~ rose petal tea to drink. All the others I’ve tried don’t even come close.

  59. liz

    my daily morning routine starts with a large cup of tazo earl grey with milk and honey. and regarding comment #12, the teahouse in boulder to which she is referring is the dushanbe teahouse. it is wonderful. their boulder black tea is my favorite. we have another teahouse here in boulder called the pekoe sip house which is also wonderful. so if you ever make it to boulder there is plenty of tea to be had…you can even take a tour of the celestial seasonings plant. your sinuses will be infinitely clearer after a walk through their peppermint room.

  60. Lisa

    I drink so much Tetley’s British Blend that I order it directly from them. The don’t distribute in Arizona because their research shows that the “south” prefers iced tea, and I guess AZ = The South.

    I prefer the blacks to herbals, but have taken to drinking green at work. I haven’t found one I like, so I am appreciative of this post because now I have some ideas.

    I also carry tea in my purse – the British Blend in a small Republic of Tea container.

    I will drink Tazo Awake (and also like their Joy) when I’m travelling. Sometimes I laugh at myself because I’ll be relieved to see a Starbucks at an airport, and I’ve never had a cup of their coffee.

    One of my biggest frustrations is how difficult it is to get tea at restaurants. I won’t drink Lipton, and I am astounded when I am brought a mug of “hot” water and the tea bag on the side.

    My favorite, though, is a well brewed cup of real Indian Chai.

  61. Leah

    BANGARANG! Sorry, that just hit my funny bone.

    Also, I love the taste after you eat artichoke and drink water! Yum!

  62. Leah

    Oh, and I also forgot to mention Sterrenmix.

    It’s a dutch tea with a hint of annis and fennel and some other interesting stuff, and a really unique flavor. The longer it steeps the sweeter it gets!

    I’m not sure if you can buy it outside of the Netherlands. If anyone knows a way to get it, please let me know!

  63. Regina

    For my favorite Asian-style tea, I really like oolong tea, but don’t know that much about the different kinds of oolong. My favorite green teas are Long Jing and the Dragon Phoenx Jasmine Pearls.

    If you ever go across the Bay to Berkeley, check out this awesome tea shop:
    http://www.farleaves.com. They have a good selection of high-quality Asian-style teas.

    I don’t really care for European-style green teas, but for European-style black teas, I like (love) a good cup of Earl Grey, Yorkshire Gold or the smokey goodness of Irish breakfast.

    My favorite herbal infusion is hibiscus and rose hips. It’s best in bulk, but Teekanne has an acceptable tea-bag form of it.

  64. ML

    I’m a tea addict and family know it so Christmas/Birthdays I keep getting tea. Unfortunately it’s the cheap discounted stuff from discount stores, however one cousin buys me tea from T Salon in NYC. I just love everything they sell. I also like Harney & Sons as well as,Mighty Leaf, Tea Forte Republic of Tea and Revolution.

    Black tea: Earl Gray w/ Lavender(Revolution)
    Before getting pregnant/nursing, I used to drink chinese black teas(ti kun yun,aka emperor’s tea which has has this bitter taste that turns into sweet honey when it reaches the back of the tongue) I also used to drink purah/bolee with my dim sum. I still have a big stash from when I lived in Hong Kong and went on a tea shopping spree(including tea ceremony etiquette classes) before returning to CA.

    Green tea, Republic of Tea

    Honey Bush, Trader Joe’s
    Any floral teas like Chrysanthemum or Rose hips

    Chamomile, any from the above brands.

    This post is encouraging me to get rid of tea by maybe hosting a tea party.

  65. Kidlet

    I’m not a big fan of the herbals, but I couldn’t agree more about the Jasmine Pearl tea. We had a small tea shop near us in Mountain View, California and they introduced us to all manner of teas, but after it was all said and done the Jasmine Pearl was the clear winner.

  66. amanda

    I live in a little town in upstate New York. A woman opened a tea shop http://sensibiliteasonline.com and carries a tea called “Create World Peace,” a caffeine free blend of mint, ginger, licorice and clove. I am not usually partial to licorice and my husband doesn’t like mint, somehow this allowed us to drink from the same pot.

    Very tasty!

  67. Carolyn

    Great post Maggie! I too always carry tea n my purse or carry-on bag. Long flights are so much easier to bare when one has a nice warm cup of Tazo Calm or peppermint tea to sip throughout the flight. For special occasions, or whenever we need a pick-me-up, my husband and I love the flowering display teas that other people have mentioned. They absolutely must be brewed in a tall clear glass in order to fully appreciate the multisensory experience. There are many varieties, from jasmine to white teas, with all sorts of flowers that gracefully unfurl as the tea brews. They make a fabulous addition to any dinner party and the perfect hostess gift (just be sure to supply a little note explaining how to properly brew and perhaps a wee history). Also, although the display teas can seem a bit expensive, they are actually a bargain when you consider that each individually hand-sewn ball of tea will easily produce three tall cups of tea. I was first introduced to display teas in Hong Kong, by friends who were from mainland China. They explained that one should first rinse the tea ball with boiling water, then brew in a tall clear glass mug. (I’m not sure if all require rinsing) Most importantly, the mug could, and should, be refilled with hot water at least twice – otherwise you are wasting the tea. Beware though – some display teas pack one heck of a caffeine jolt – especially after three tall cups! When it’s just the two of us, my husband and I brew one or two tea balls in a clear glass tea pot, but when serving guests we always make sure each person has their own glass and their own tea ball – the aroma is sublime! Whenever we’re in China we stock up. Here in the States, we’ve purchased them at various shops in Chicago’s Chinatown. Prices vary, but any shop on a side street will generally be much less expensive. Dream About Tea up in Evanston, IL is a nice little shop that also sells them, along with a huge variety of other teas. If you’re ever in the Midwest, be sure to check it out. Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor also has a fabulous tea selection. Peet’s also sells the display teas online. Muji in Hong Kong (Shatin) is a fantastic place to pick up packages of display tea – much more affordable than Peet’s! Makes great gifts!

  68. Kara

    My very very favorite tea is Licorice Spice (by stash premium – you can find it in just about any health food store). I also like Oolong, Lapsang Souchong, and any variation of mint/peppermint/spearmint.

  69. jon

    Couldn’t help but notice that you said, “when I’m avoiding caffeine.”…
    Should we be reading anything into that seemingly innocent little comment?

  70. Liz

    I second Sara’s post above about Zhena’s Gypsy Tea. I tasted some of their Red Lavender in a cafe in Missoula, MT, but it was unavailable for purchase. Despondent for days in the northern wilderness, I ordered 6 varieties as soon as I was back in civilization.

  71. Chelsea Talks Smack

    I LOVE TEA, I’M SUCH A TEA DRINKER. its the ritual behind making and drinking th tea. best tea house in Denver: House of Commons, so amazing. THE SCONES ARE OUT OF THIS WORRRRRLD.

  72. Kelli

    Wu Wei tea blend is very yummy! And so is Kukicha Twig tea with brown rice syrup and half & half.

  73. Clair

    Barry’s Gold Label. With a little sugar and milk, it’s the tea equivalent of curling up in bed with your favorite blanket and listening to the rain on the roof. I got hooked on it while living among many Irish immigrants in the Sunset. It goes well with Kimberley’s (sp?) chocolate-covered biscuits and gossip over the kitchen table.

  74. Laurenne

    Have you ever tried ito en tea? They are my favorite brand and I can buy their iced tea in bottles here (Virginia), but have to order loose tea online: http://www.itoen.com/

    It’s expensive, but worth it. And the packaging is well designed!

    I also love Harney & Sons.

  75. z

    Teaopia.ca’s wellness blends. “Rise n Shine” is my favourite, hands down, but who can’t love a tea called “Elixir of life”… And, their “sleep well” tea has no chamomile, which thrills me. (I can’t stand the stuff.)

  76. Cherry

    You mentioned many of my top tea picks in your list. I’m a big fan of Mighty Leaf – African Nectar.

    Have you been to the Imperial Tea Court? That’s where I get my Jasmine Pearls and it is fabulous. They teach you how to brew it just right. I haven’t been to the Ferry Building shop, as I used to go to the older one that recently closed in Chinatown.

  77. cara

    can’t read every comment to see if anyone else has suggested a green tea for the mystery one – which they most likely have- but it sounds like gunpowder. good stuff.

  78. Leah

    Marco Polo tea by Mariage Freres. No question, the best black tea in the world. Sold loose. I try to buy it once a year because I can’t justify spending the money to buy it more often. It’s something like $15+ a tin at shops like The Gardener or Market Hall in the East Bay. But the tin is cute. My husband keeps his loose change in the last one we got.

  79. Amy

    once i discovered chocolate (black) tea i didn’t want to drink anything else. doesn’t matter what brand!

    mixing the comfort of tea with the comfort of chocolate is unbeatable. put in a splash of whole milk and a whole teaspoon of sugar and you’ve got a party.

  80. gwen

    I like the ‘honeybush’ variant of rooibos, because DAMN, can you think of a sexier name for a cup of tea?

    There will always be a place in my heart for Constant Comment. My mother used to brew a thermos of it for our family hikes when I was a kid, and it is still the ultimate taste of home. When I was living in the Netherlands, this was the one food product I would ask State-side friends to ship to me. Nothing else cured homesickness like Constant Comment.

    Also, lapsang souchong mixed with Earl Grey is about as close to a tea martini as you can get.

  81. colleen

    I recently posted about our Teapoet Society with a photo of a big block of pu-erh that looks like chocolate. Tea is my meditation.

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  83. Chris

    Republic of Tea Ginger Peach and their Mango are great iced. Constant Comment is a reliable standby. I live in WA State, close to the border; a great Saturday trip is to Sun Sui Wah for dim sum and then to Lansdowne Centre to taste and buy teas. Last time we dropped over $300 and they gave us many gifts as a result. There were several of the variety you mention, the dark, furled balls of tea. Usual purchases include Jasmine Green Tea and High Mountain Green Tea – so good for you!

  84. Pam

    The really hard little green balls that unfurl so nicely are indeed “Extra Gunpowder” green tea. Don’t spent a lot of money on it at a fancy tea shop either – you can get Extra Gunpowder for like, five dollars a pound at Ranch 99 or other Asian market. Comes in a green box with Chinese all over it. Yeah…that’s the good stuff.

  85. Sharon B.

    Ooooo…I too, adore Republic’s Ginseng Pepperment. I keep it at work, at home, and several pouches in a small metal tin in my purse. Their Chamomile Lemon w/Honey is also quite good, and trust me, will knock you right out.

    I’m also lucky in that I live in Madison, WI, so there’s tons of places to find new teas to try. Milwaukee is also a great ‘tea’ city – if you’re ever there, check out Rochambo Coffee and Tea House. Their Madagascar Mint is minty, fresh perfection.

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