Tea Drinkers - Recommendations

Hello all,

I'm thinking of switching back to tea, having drank coffee for the last seven years. But it has been a while since I regularly used loose leaf, and the selection of teas I drank was quite limited (mostly yerba-maté and a bunch of African teas). So I'm somewhat of a newbie again.

Open to hear suggestions on:

  • tea-pots
  • tea flavours
  • online stores
  • tips & tricks

Think I'd prefer a pot over a strainer, especially if I'm going to take it to work with me. Open to all types of tea; green, black, herbal and so on. Maybe a sample kit is the way to go?

Thank you.


  • +10

    Tleaft have been by far the most reliable for me, especially because they have so many samplers to try.

    I'm a big green tea drinker and my personal favourite is Long Jing (Lung Ching on their website). It's a very beautiful green tea and you can keep re-steeping it 3-4 times. It has a milder caffeine content, so I find it very calming. Needs to be steepd at 70C for about 2 minutes for the first steeping and subsequent steepings add about another minute each. If you over steep or use too hot water it will be bitter and disgusting.

    Long Jing is a quality tea, so it is more pricey (again the re-steeping helps a lot with price comparison though). I've tried MANY teas but I always come back to long Jing.

    A cheaper and standard alternative is Sencha. I prefer Chinese teas so I go with a Chinese sencha. You may want to try a Japanese sencha to see what your preferred is. Sencha is very much the cheaper more bog standard standard green tea. I enjoy the flavour of the Chinese sencha but In an effort towards minimalism I just stick to having one around in the cupboard. Again similar brewing temp and time but probably less re-steeps.

    Tie Guan Ying (iron goddess of mercy) is another very famous tea, it's an oolong tea that is regarded as one of the finest teas. Also very popular at yum cha. Again, can be re-steeped many times throughout the day. As an oolong it has a more robust flavour and higher caffeine content but is very smooth. Definitely a must try. As an oolong it is best brewed with 90-100c water. Ideally, add some boiling water, steep for 20 seconds or so, throw out the water and let the leaves breathe for another 10 seconds or so, then add water again to fill the pot. Then steep for a minute or so and consume that batch. Re-steep again and again up to 4-5 times increasing steep time each time. Throwing out the first quick steep is traditional to remove bitter flavours and leave only the smooth beautiful notes. Again be mindful not to oversteep, although it's much more resilient than a standard green.

    Taiwan also makes a lot of different ooloongs that are very famous. So you could look in to some of those.

    For black tea, earl grey Excelsior is amazing, but is really more ideal made as a cup with some milk and sugar rather than in a pot and you can't re-steep it. I use it more when I want a single cup of black tea for a caffeine pick me up. The bergamot in earl grey is also very calming with the higher caffeine content of the black tea.

    If you'd like a higher caffeine content tea to sip on throughout the day there are many Chinese black teas worth trying. I don't have any specific recommendations just get some samplers.

    I also love rooibos, peppermint, and camomile teas (and mixing all 3 together!) When I want something caffeine free or to wind down for the night.

    Matcha is another favourite but more complex to get right so I'd stay away for now. It's a great cup of coffee replacement though.

    Those are probably some good tea starting points. But t leaf t have always had great service and offer samplers for everything that only cost a couple bucks. I spent a year or so just trying every flavour they had :D Be sure to stay away from T2, unless you want trash tea in cute boxes with nice smelling flavours rather than actual tea.

    I have a lot of teapots but my recommendation for personal tea drinking is basically anything 500ml. Perfect size for one person to sip on and re-steep throughout the day before it gets cold, while also being flexible enough to make tea to share with one other person.

    Also, I'm not a shill for t leaf t, they're just really excellent when it comes to offering some good traditional pure teas and having samplers available for everything. Every time I've tried somewhere else I've ended up disappointed or it's more expensive so now I just stick to what I know. They also have stores in Wellington where you can trial stuff, and there's a tea shop in mt Eden who also stock tons of tea including the range from t leaf t and you buy it as much or little as you want, like a bin inn but for tea.

    Honourable mention to zealong, their tea is nice and it is nz based but it's very expensive and their staff aren't always treated the best so I never bother with buying it. I received a sample pack as a gift once and it was lovely and worth trying.

    Hope that helps!

    • I second tleaft, they are also doing a great deal of buy two bags get the third free at the moment. They sometimes do free shipping too.

      I love their Kawakawa fire (really strong lemongrass Kawakawa and ginger tea) and their anti-cyclone (weird name but a nice strong aniseed tasting tea). Their tea is great but I personally think their tea pots and glassware etc is expensive so wouldn't buy that stuff from there.

    • +3

      Wow, what a great response.

      I'm already a tea drinker (I'm lucky to have taiwanese friends that occasionaly bring oolong & green tea as gifts).

      As I'm really low on supply I'm going to try some of the suggestions you've made - Thanks!

      • +1

        It's rare my tea knowledge is of any use, so I'm glad I could make some helpful suggestions :) If you try any be sure to report back what you think!

    • +1

      Wow, thanks snowflake for the thorough response. Makes my decision much easier if t leaf T is the consensus store of preference. Think the best approach might to do similar to what you did and test all of the teas on their site (or thereabouts).

      And perhaps being in Hamilton, I should go do a tour of Zealong.

      I made an impulse purchase earlier today. Ruwasey Tea Sample Pack $10 delivered. The shopper in me couldn't help it.

    • +1

      My order 😁

      • Earl grey excelsior sample
      • Iron goddess of mercy sample
      • Tokyo lime sample
      • Green peach sample
      • Caribbean crush sample
      • Lapsang souchong sample
      • Russian caravan sample
      • Wellington breakfast sample
      • Berrylicious sample
      • Malibu kiss organic sample
      • Genmaicha japan sample
      • Gyokuro kabuse sample
      • High grade jasmine sample
      • Hon gyokuro sample
      • Japan sencha sample
      • Chamomile sample
      • Kawakawa fire sample
      • Ginseng oolong sample
      • Red african fire sample
      • Jasmine dragon pearls sample
      • Red vanilla raspberry sample
      • Silver needle sample
      • Lung ching 75g foil pouch
  • for the bargain hunters, Twining Green tea 100 bags often go on specials at countdown around $5.5 or so

    in regard to other tea options could jasmine tea often popular.

    Chrysanthemum tea is also quite popular in many Chinese places. can also add chrysanthemum to some selected Chinese tea as well.

  • Wakrak, do you have a kettle where you can boil to specific temperatures? If not that is a must (although I would say that even for coffee).

    • I don't. Just a standard kettle. Any recommendations?

      edit - Should add that I will be doing most of my tea drinking at work, where we have those instant hot (boiling) water taps.

      • Hm, maybe in that situation you might be better off taking a thermometer in one day and measuring how much tap water you need to add to bring it to the 70ish degrees you'll need for green tea. I would eyeball it from that point on once you know if you need 1 or 2cm of tap water.

        But for interest I got that one from Supercheap Auto, the Germanica wifi one for $40. I don't think it's available anymore. It's also nice for making 37deg water for bottles for my baby. I used to have a gooseneck Bonavita but I think it's a bit easier to use the app to set specific temperatures than pressing buttons. I also have it set up on Alexa using scenes.

        • +1

          Yeah they're definitely very handy, I now have an instant hot water dispenser where you can choose the exact temp you want which cost me about $100, and had a variable temp kettle before that. But I also at places like work just guess the temperature by adding some cold water or stopping the jug before it boils. Tea like long Jing is a little more resilient to slightly higher temps but other ones that you've ordered are definitely not, especially anything sencha based which taste foul with water that is too hot. (I think most people think green tea tastes gross because they make it with boiling water and steep it too long which makes disgusting tea and then they write-off green tea forever haha).

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