The 10 Best English Teas

Updated February 14, 2018 by Lydia Chipman

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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. In the search for a good cuppa, it's a safe bet to turn to the British Isles for inspiration. Our carefully curated assortment of English teas runs the gamut from delicately blended aromatic sachets to robust loose-leaf varieties for the serious connoisseur. They are just as suitable for sipping on the veranda as they are for chugging out of a travel mug between meetings. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best english tea on Amazon.

10. British Breakfast

The Republic of Tea's British Breakfast round sachets are filled with a mixture of regional specialties from Sri Lanka, India and Kenya. They come in an attractive, reusable canister that's a sensible choice for bustling breakfasts and casual tête-à-têtes.
  • drink with or without milk
  • refill packs available
  • a bit mild for sophisticated palates
Brand The Republic of Tea
Model pending
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Tea Beyond Blooming Breakfast

Hand-wrapped bundles of Tea Beyond Blooming Breakfast burst spectacularly into blossom as they steep, creating showy floral displays and filling the air with delicious aromas for a teatime audience, even if it's just a way to pamper yourself after a long day at the office.
  • come in 4- or 12-count boxes
  • serve immediately for full effect
  • rather expensive for everyday use
Brand Tea Beyond
Model SYNCHKG072320
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Taylors of Harrogate

If you've got scones and clotted cream just waiting for someone to put on the kettle, Yorkshire-based Taylors of Harrogate makes a satisfyingly fragrant complement for a relaxing afternoon tradition. Choose from a boxed assortment or loose-leaf tins to match your style.
  • rich in antioxidants
  • made by a family company
  • quite a few crushed leaves
Brand Taylors of Harrogate
Model SYNCHKG022929
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Pique Cold Brew

When time is short, and some cool refreshment is in order, you'll appreciate the convenience of Pique Cold Brew crystals, which can be ready to sip or guzzle at your discretion just as fast as you can pour and stir them into a glass of water.
  • dissolve instantly
  • certified usda organic
  • not the most cost-effective choice
Model pending
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Harney & Sons

The elegance of a Harney & Sons label will raise the bar at any table setting, but just because it's good enough for company doesn't mean you have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy a serving of your freshly brewed favorite. It's every bit as tasty from a paper cup.
  • delicious on its own or with milk
  • mellow and fragrant
  • supports sustainable enterprise
Brand Harney & Sons
Model SYNCHKG044020
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Ahmad of London

Lending a touch of whimsy to the refined tastes of its hometown, Ahmad of London features caches of their characteristic selections in clever, collectible caddies, which can be used to replenish your supply or refilled with anything else that suits your fancy.
  • souvenir boxes in various designs
  • makes a nice commemorative gift
  • palate-pleasing flavors
Brand Ahmad Tea
Model SYNCHKG017206
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

4. Tazo Awake

Tazo Awake is a mild and refreshing blend, offered in convenient filterbags and single-serve pods for an elegantly refined caffeine infusion to be enjoyed in quiet solitude or over a cuppa among friends — at home, at work, or on the go.
  • invigorating morning brew
  • conscientiously sourced
  • hand-selected varieties
Brand TAZO
Model pending
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Twinings of London

One of the most renowned names in the business, Twinings of London has been expertly blending some of the world's finest offerings since long before that infamous incident in the Boston Harbor. Their experience shows in the broad appeal of these flavorful sachets.
  • delicately aromatic
  • available in several assortments
  • handy individual packets
Brand Twinings
Model TRTAZ11A
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Rishi Organic Thé Noir

A full-bodied blend from a variety of Southeast Asian sources, Rishi Organic Thé Noir is sold in signature loose-leaf tins or separately in 15-count single-serve bags. It's also available in bulk, in case you prefer to refill the distinctive green canister.
  • excellent quality coarse-cut leaves
  • rich caramel notes
  • bold with high caffeine content
Brand Rishi Tea
Model SYNCHKG086490
Weight 5.9 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Vahdam Single Origin

Vahdam Single Origin is an exceptional choice for discerning palates. Not only does it have a rich, bold flavor and delightfully warm undertones, it's also sustainably sourced and ethically traded for those who care as much about where it comes from as how it tastes.
  • superior cut and quality
  • packaged right after harvesting
  • loose-leaf and foil-wrapped options
Brand Vahdam Teas
Model pending
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Tea's Only As Good As You Brew It

It's hard to qualify what it is about tea that is so soothing. There is nothing quite like taking a moment out of our busy day to sit and reflect over a hot cup of tea, no matter how you take it. Even in the warmer months, it serves a purpose, as a glass of iced tea with a little lemon might just be the most refreshing thing on the planet.

In England, tea is almost a religion. Spain has their siestas, the US has "that 2:30pm feeling," and England has tea time. Other cultures have specific rituals around teas, most notably the Japanese tea ceremony, but the British take it one step further by normalizing it among the populous.

That said, recent studies suggest that the Brits aren't particularly adept at making the teas about which they care so much. Perhaps, a little lesson is in order.

After tea leaves are plucked and processed, consumers either pick them up from the store in convenient tea bags or as loose tea, which they have to steep using a variety of available implements. The steeping process allows the dried up leaves to reconstitute themselves through heat and moisture, exchanging flavor and nutrient compounds with the boiling water.

The exact temperature of that water is of vital importance to the quality of your brew, as is the time your tea spends in its bath. For the English teas on our list, you'll want to boil water and let it sit for a moment, that it might cool down to roughly 200˚ F before you pour it over the bag. The steeping process after that ought to last a good four or five minutes if you want the full flavor of your brew. Also, do not add anything like milk or sugar until your brew is complete and you remove the tea from the water.

Taste Your Way To Tea Time

Choosing among teas is, more than most things you could spend time researching online, really a matter of taste. That said, there are certain characteristics you can look for in the description of a given tea that may or may not suit your palate. Additionally, you'll find yourself oscillating between a preference for bagged tea and loose tea on a pretty consistent basis, as both have their merits.

Starting there, most tea enthusiasts will tell you that there is no substitute for loose leaf tea. Scientifically, this tends to be true, as loose tea has more room to maneuver in the water, allowing for greater contact and more flavor. What's more, the leaves themselves are larger and less crudely processed than those you'll find in bags, which preserves more of the flavor compounds and more of the nutrients in your tea.

But bagged teas have come a long way, and since most of the teas on our list are bagged, we're going to confine the majority of our comments to comparing and contrasting their qualities. Just make sure you pick a brand that's processed carefully and that you brew it with a modicum of precision.

English teas traditionally have a strong, bold flavor to them, and their characteristics range along the increase in their cost from inexpensive, malty, and dense to lighter, more floral, and more expensive. Despite the differences in flavor, you'll find that the energy-inducing properties of the teas on our list–specifically their caffeine and theophylline counts–are more or less consistent.

A Long Time Brewing

You've got about as good of a chance deducing the origin of tea from scholarly anthropological research as you do from reading it in the tea leaves themselves. The drink, with its origins narrowed down to ancient China, has been with us for so long that its inventor and place of origin are unknown to us.

We do know that its use spread from southwestern China, around the borders with Burma in the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, sometime around 1500 BCE. Beyond that, we have only legend to account for the first encounter with the brew, and the legends abound.

One such legend states that an emperor sat in relaxation when some leaves blew off a nearby tree and landed in a cup of boiling water. Apparently, at the time, all the country had taken to boiling their water for sanitation. The heat allowed the leaves of this particular tree to expand and fill the cup with flavor.

Another legend centers around the Bodhisattva, the founder of Chan (A.K.A. Zen) Buddhism. This legend states that when the Buddha failed to remain in a meditation that had gone on for nine years, having fallen asleep, he awoke in disgust and cut off his own eyelids. When the Buddha's eyelids fell to the earth, they produced the first tea tree.

Whatever you believe, tea didn't make its way to the west until the 1660s, when King Charles II began importing it from China. The expansion of Great Britain's empire into India and China gave the U.K. unprecedented access to teas cultivated by cheap labor and slave labor, and under these deplorable circumstances, their pleasant afternoon ritual was born.

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Last updated on February 14, 2018 by Lydia Chipman

An itinerant wordsmith with a broad constellation of interests, Lydia Chipman has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts. Bearing the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience—with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order or becoming an artist—she still can’t resist the temptation to learn something new.

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