Remember those days when the welcome offer of a cup of tea was usually followed by ‘milk and sugar?’. Now, even a poorly stocked pantry will have at least a humble selection of herbal and green teas, on top of your run-of-the-mill ‘builder’s’ tea.
From traditional Chinese Oolong tea to India’s masala chai to England’s breakfast tea, the diverse people of many nations across the world who otherwise enjoy plenty of distinction, have but one thing in common: they all love a good tea-break.
Infusing one’s day with regular pauses to sup this esteemed beverage is the backbone of many a society. Fortunately, there are plenty of luxury tea brands whose raison d’être is to bring you the finest, best teas in the world.
Our list will guide you through the tried-and-tested best gourmet tea brands available on the market today.
The 11 best premium tea brands in the world
|Harney & Sons||Best black tea||$$|
|Jade Leaf Matcha||Best matcha||$$$|
|Yorkshire Tea||Best English breakfast||$|
|Traditional Medicinals||Best night time||$|
|Yogi Tea||Best herbal||$|
|Tea Forte||Best tea sampler||$$$|
|Republic of Tea||Best white||$$|
|Art of Tea||Best Earl Grey||$$|
Take a look at our luxury tea buyers’ guide after the list to see exactly what you should pay attention to before purchasing a premium team. We also wrote a few short descriptions of the key terms you need to know when shopping for tea.
Harney & Sons: Best black tea
A family business fuelled by a true passion for all things tea, Harney and Sons continue the legacy developed by their founder, John Harney.
The eponymous sons of Harney and Sons now work tremendously hard to comb through and discover the world’s finest tea plantations. Mike Harney, who goes by the enviable title of Master Tea Buyer and Blender previously held the equally enviable position of hobbyist sommelier (um, aren’t we all on most Friday nights?).
As such, this man’s taste buds are second-to-none. Expertly crafting both traditional and exotic tea blends is the order of the day, every day at New York-based Harney and Sons.
With over 300 different blends, including several matchas and a new hemp range, even the prissiest of tea drinkers are likely to be appeased with the formidable tea selection.
FairTrade Certified, Harney and Sons endeavour to shoulder some responsibility for the welfare of the tea-growers. What is more, their decade-long partnership with 1% for the Planet is a commitment to donating 1% of their profits to environmental causes around the globe. Respect.
Our favourite tea blend: Hot Cinnamon Spice
The bestseller of the brand is also one of the oldest, developed by John Harney in 1980. The enticingly-named Hot Cinnamon Spice tea is a warming brew that is black tea-based, with orange peel, sweet clove and three types of cinnamon.
The conjunction of these complementary flavours results in a sweet, rich flavour palate which is oh-so-comforting.
With its earthy brown liquor reminiscent of the fertile soils in which it grows and the exotic aroma of spice and citrus, Hot Cinnamon Spice is truly a treat for the senses.
Due to their pure commitment to their craft, blended with genuine passion, we’ve rated Harney and Sons as the best black tea brand on the market.
Jade Leaf Matcha: Best matcha tea
Most people think of sushi and sake when they think of Japan. However, the ‘super tea’ that is matcha has arrived in the public eye too, having voyaged from the far-off island nation and into Western society.
Japan’s highly dignified culture places the utmost importance on ritual. Tea-drinking is no exception. Where matcha has become a wildly popular health drink in the West only in recent years, the matcha tea ceremony has been an integral aspect of Japanese society for centuries.
But, you don’t have to partake in the traditional ceremony to enjoy the health benefits matcha tea provides (although it would bring an entirely new depth to sushi night!).
Enter Jade Leaf Matcha. Founders Mark and Will source their matcha directly from organic farms in Japan, ensuring the most authentic experience possible. Not just any organic farms, either. Jade Leaf Tea’s matcha comes from near Kyoto, an area renowned for its matcha plantations.
The transformation from raw plant to ready-to-brew matcha powder is proudly ‘left to the masters’ in the nearby Uji. With Jade Leaf Tea’s meticulous approach and commitment to perfection, you may find yourself waving sayōnara to inferior matcha, forever.
Our favourite: Jade Leaf Ceremonial matcha
Ceremonial means that it’s the ‘ceremonial’ grade of matcha tea, which is to say it’s the highest of quality.
Jade Leaf Ceremonial matcha is 100% USDA Certified Organic (and only 1% of Japanese farms are tea-certified, so finding one is like finding a needle in a haystack). Japanese monks have been reaping the benefits of matcha since way before it was cool, enjoying the purported health perks of the insanely concentrated antioxidant levels.
Easy to prepare (just whisk with hot water) and providing a caffeine kick (without the jitteriness of coffee), the intensely complex and flavoursome Jade Leaf Ceremonial matcha might be what’s missing from your life!
The bittersweet flavour profile is certainly a taste to acquire, and some have said they begin to yearn for the uniquely astringent taste after a few weeks of regular drinking.
We’ve rated Jade Leaf Tea as the best matcha tea on the market, thanks to the thoughtful production process and commitment to authenticity.
Yorkshire Tea: Best English breakfast
To a lot of the Northern hemisphere, the perfect brew consists of black tea with a splash of milk (with the addition of sugar for the scoundrels out there).
The question of ‘how English is English breakfast tea?’ remains controversial, but what’s for sure is the guys up in Yorkshire certainly know their tea.
Founded in 1886 in Harrogate, Yorkshire, Yorkshire Tea despite being owned by Taylors of Harrogate, has become a household name in and of itself. It was and remains a family-run business, quenching the thirsts of most of the British public and then some.
Their not-so-secret secret to producing absolutely top-quality tea is simply that they refuse to compromise on quality. You may be wondering ‘But I didn’t think you could grow tea in Yorkshire?’. Full marks to you! No, the perpetually rainy North of England is unsurprisingly not known for its tea-friendly climes and rich soils.
The fact is: Yorkshire Tea is sourced from the finest growers in Africa and India, paying fair prices along the way, while remaining impeccably British.
Furthermore, Yorkshire Tea is produced by Rainforest Alliance Certified growers, in addition to carrying the trademark of the Forest Stewardship Council. The not-for-profit promotes sustainable forestry management and strives to preserve the biodiversity of forests. That’s a guilt-free cuppa tea if we ever saw one!
Our favourite: Yorkshire Gold
While they’ve diversified to include numerous varieties of tea blends, their crown jewel is Yorkshire Gold. The rich, full-bodied blend is an excellent accompaniment to any morning (or afternoon!).
Deep and strong in flavour, Yorkshire Gold is a premium blend of the best tea leaves from Kenya, Assam and Rwanda; the latter giving it its characteristic golden hue.
There’s something so ‘Ah’-worthy about the vision of the smooth steam which emanates from a simple, unassuming cup of Yorkshire Tea. Sipping it from fine bone china is reminiscent of British royalty and efficacious of the inherent tranquillity.
The simple but careful execution of this British societal mainstay is commendable. Therefore, we’ve rated Yorkshire Tea as the best English breakfast tea.
Traditional Medicinals: Best night time tea
For those who enjoy sampling the whole world of innovative herbal flavour fusions, Traditional Medicinals is a one-stop-shop.
Established in 1974 by third-generation herbalist Rosemary Gladstar (and what better name for a herbalist!) Traditional Medicinals was a manifestation of the baby-boomers yearning to revive herbalism in North America.
You know that one friend who wears upcycled hemp scarves, smells like patchouli and is always recommending lavender oil and aloe vera for every ailment? That’s Rosemary, and she made it big.
Now nicknamed the ‘Godmother of modern herbalism’ many of Rosemary’s original herbal tea blends remain bestsellers to this day, and the company itself is revered as the leading seller of wellness tea on the continent.
While breakfast teas are a morning favourite because of their moderate caffeine-kick, herbal teas are often preferred by those who abstain from the ‘go juice’.
Is there anything more refreshing than the clean, floral aroma of a herbal tea, that simply radiates all things natural and healthy? Unadulterated by milk or sugar, herbal teas are a rare combination of indulgence and innocence.
Our favourite: Organic Nighty Night Extra
All the joy but without the caffeine, Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night Extra blend promotes an undisturbed slumber with its valerian root extract.
Its earthy, yet minty taste is a great palate freshener while leaving you feeling wholesome and very much back-to-nature.
Valerian, passionflower, lemon balm and peppermint all work symbiotically to induce the aura of a twilight walk through a serene garden.
Predictably, all the ingredients are certified organic and non-GMO, further enhancing this dreamy tonic’s health benefits. Is there anything this caffeine-free super-sleep concoction doesn’t do? Well, it won’t do much in the way of waking you up. Obviously.
We’ve rated Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night Extra tea as the best night time tea for its salubrious properties and all-round delicious flavour.
Dilmah: Best Ceylon tea
Hailing from arguably the motherland of tea, Dilmah was born in the ‘teardrop of India’- Sri Lanka. Straight from source, Dilmah was the first company to offer producer-owned tea. From start to finish, the tea was picked, packed, and perfected at the place of origin.
And what a place of origin it is… Dilmah Tea was born in the staggeringly beautiful heartland of rural Sri Lanka. Rolling hills of luscious green, carved geometrically with row upon row of tea plants as far as the eye can see.
Known as The Tea-maker, founder Merrill J Fernando won the FIRST award for Responsible Capitalism in 2016. Seemingly an oxymoron, but in reality, Fernando has toiled to ensure that Dilmah remains a local product and is proudly unblended, which Fernando says detracts from the quality of his tea.
Our favourite: Dilmah Premium Ceylon tea
Dilmah’s Premium Ceylon tea possesses the distinct flavour unique to Sri Lanka. Dilmah’s tea is proud to be 100% Sri Lankan, containing both bold richness and a delicate aroma all in one immaculate cup. It’s expertly crafted from picking to packing in the Ratnapura region of the island, known for its striking topography.
The harmonious combination of citrus, chocolate, and a hint of Sri Lankan spice is beautifully executed by Dilmah, providing a fresh, elegant flavour profile with pronounced depth.
Dilmah’s Ceylon tea is fragrant, full-bodied and invigorating, with a fantastic commitment to authenticity. Thus, we’ve named it the best Ceylon tea on the market in 2020.
Twinings: Best green tea
The English love tea more than the Italians love pasta, more than Americans love Taco Bell, more than Swiss love fondue… well, you get it. Go figure.
After tea was introduced to Britain by way of the East India Company (consult your history books), it became hugely fashionable. Obviously, it remains so today. At the forefront of this favourite pastime (drinking tea is not just about the tea, of course!) were the Twinings family.
Thomas Twining opened the Golden Lyon coffee house in 1707 and began to share his knowledge of tea with the regulars. The rest, as they say, is history.
Twinings are known throughout England and beyond for their inviting, sensuous herbal tea blends and strong English breakfast teas. Well, with 300 years of experience, you’d expect them to be pretty good. And they are.
Our favourite: Twinings Green Tea
Is it just us, or does green tea make you feel super healthy from the inside out while giving us that energising kick-start? There are heaps of variations of the hugely popular green tea, but we love the simple Green Tea, by Twinings.
Twinings green tea bags are like all the beauty and nutrition, encased nicely into a neat little package, ready to be infused in your favourite cup.
The Twinings tea masters use gentle sencha steaming and pan firing to craft an earthy blend while being light and refreshing at the same time.
It’s so easy to get green tea wrong by overcomplicating or inferior processing methods. However, we love Twinings as they retain their natural affinity for tea-making excellence, which is evident in every fragrant cup.
We’re rated Twinings Green Tea as the best green tea on the market in 2020. Go on, put the kettle on.
Yogi Tea: Best herbal tea
Big on mindfulness and positivity, Yogi Tea can be found on the breakfast bars of many, many yoga retreat centres across the globe, not to mention the pantries of those wishing to replicate that desirable serenity in their own homes.
However, drinking Yogi Tea will not transform you into a starry-eyed, yoga pants-wearing earth child. Unless you’re into that.
Yogi Tea’s philosophy is heavily grounded in the ancient Indian practice of Ayurvedic healing. This means their teas are created with the magical powers of herbs in mind to give the maximum benefits.
Of course, the ingredients are organic and free of artificial ingredients or additives. Each tea comes with a cute message of Yogic wisdom and a yoga exercise. We don’t know about you, but we’re sold.
The company is involved with humanitarian projects around the world and promotes sustainability in its practices too. Seriously, do these guys do anything wrong?!
Our favourite: Yogi Tea Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy
Sweet Tangerine. Are there two more gorgeous words than that? Reminiscent of a Mediterranean orange orchard, sticky with the sap of the fruit trees heavily laden with their gifts. Yum.
The harmonising blend is carefully designed to elevate your mood and inspire positivity. This blend does contain caffeine (80mg in a standard cup, compared to 90mg in a typical coffee), so it serves a welcome pick-me-up, too.
Sweet floral lotus flower and lemon myrtle all work together to create a fragrant, sweet yet balanced blend. Black Assam tea adds depth, while the green tea balances the sweetness of the citrus.
A lovely aromatic tea through-and-through, we’ve rated Yogi Tea as the best herbal tea on the market.
TWG: Best luxury tea
Taha Bouqdib, president and CEO of TWG Tea could easily be described as the world’s biggest tea lover. And that, friends, is exactly the kind of reputation you want from your tea supplier. A true connoisseur, Bouqdib has travelled far and wide to source and sample the most delectable teas in the world.
Eventually settling in Singapore, but having accumulated an impressive knowledge through studying tea ceremonies in countries as contrasting as France and Morocco for upward of 15 years, Bouqdib is arguably the ultimate authority on all things tea.
Tea is his passion, and TWG Tea is the manifestation of that passion.
Accentuating the absolute splendour of TWG Tea, they even use hand sewn, 100% cotton tea bags. Aside from being totally luxe, this actually serves to create the perfect environment for the whole leaf tea to move and expand, ensuring the perfect infusion.
Our favourite: Silver Moon
Silver Moon by TWG Tea is both delicate and opulent in equal measure. An exquisite blend of green teas sourced from skilfully selected tea gardens, this tea is perfect to complement those special moments. Although, enjoying Silver Moon tea is something of a special moment itself!
The slight bitterness endemic of green tea is offset by a subtle berry and vanilla bouquet, giving Silver Moon its intricate flavour profile.
Sure to invigorate your tastebuds upon the first sip, the intoxicating fragrance will arise from the cup moments setting the stage for those ambrosial flavours to work their magic.
TWG Tea is both luxuriant and indulgent, and meticulously crafted down to the finest details. So, we’ve named TWG Tea as the best luxury tea on the market.
Tea Forté: Best tea sampler
Tea Forté is providing exceptional teas presented in beautifully unique packaging. An indulgence for the eyes as well as the taste buds, Tea Forte strives to stand out from the crowd with its elegantly handcrafted pyramid infusers encasing the award-winning flavour bonanza inside.
Working directly with growers, Tea Forté are dedicated to creating the most exquisite flavour combinations, which meld together to create both quirky and classic blends.
They’re proud to provide fine teas to over 35 countries, reflecting the permeating appeal of their craft. Okay, Coca Cola is available in 200, but 35 is still an impressive figure! Just give them time…
Tea Forté is to tea what Ladurée is to macarons; a divine product enveloped in equally divine packaging.
Our favourite: Tea Tasting Assortment
For when you just can’t decide. If you feel totally spoiled for choice with Tea Forté’s ample selection of luxury tea, fear no more:
The Tea Tasting Assortment includes 40 varieties of their most popular tea blends. So you really can have it all! Wrapped deliciously in an embossed pastel box and finished with an oh-so-lavish satin ribbon, the Tea Tasting Assortment could be the perfect gift.
There is, of course, a rather large chance that your ‘gift’ will prove too tempting to give away… Such is the appeal of Tea Forté’s graceful aesthetic. And we haven’t even started on the teas hidden inside:
You can expect universal favourites such as Organic Earl Grey and Organic Jasmine Green, as well as unique blends such as African Solstice, White Ambrosia and White Ginger Pear, which evoke more than a little curiosity.
Of course, included therein lies the essential tasting notes, so you can appreciate the delicate flavours like a true connoisseur.
Distinguished wrapping and a gorgeous selection of gourmet teas have led us to confidently rate Tea Forté’s Tea Tasting Assortment as the best tea sampler on the market.
Republic of Tea: Best white tea
Encouraging a ‘sip by sip’ culture rather than ‘gulp by gulp’, is Republic of Tea’s mission statement. They endeavour to uphold the gracious ceremony of tea-drinking, gently inspiring the drinker to appreciate the subtleties of their teas harvested from the worthiest tea gardens.
Perhaps the best part of all things Republic of Tea is their decision to behave as a true independent republic might, and dub their employees ‘ministers’, their stores ‘embassies’ and their customers ‘citizens’. Well, even if they sold substandard tea (they don’t) this is pretty cool.
‘Substandard’ is the antithesis of Republic of Tea’s national product; their whole leaf teas, unbleached bagged teas and decaffeinated blends are, in fact, award-winning. So, there.
As a highly philanthropic nation (/company), the Republic of Tea is committed to distributing some of its profits to various charitable organisations around the globe.
Being an ever-inclusive and benevolent leadership, Republic of Tea offers over 300 varieties, so there’s something for everyone.
Our favourite: White Emperor
Grown exclusively in the Fujian Province mountains in China, Republic of Tea’s White Emperor Tea promises unparalleled flavours to a majestic degree. Its harvesting time is as specific as its region: the leaves are picked on only two days of each year in the small window when the tea flowers are on the cusp of opening.
Predictably, the unique and time sensitive method of harvesting means this white tea is one of the rarest in the world.
Plus, it’s not called White Emperor for nothing: these exact tea leaves were traditionally picked from the emperor’s secret garden and served to visiting dignitaries to give them the warmest, most fragrant welcome to China.
White Emperor is 100% non-GMO certified, gluten free and zero-calorie. As such, you can readily indulge in a slice of cake on the side with little regret…
Its rarity, exquisite taste and health benefits mean we’ve rated Republic of Tea’s White Emperor as the best white tea on the market in 2020.
Art of Tea: Best Earl Grey
Based in Los Angeles, California, the Art of Tea was founded in 1996 by Steve Schwartz. Steve’s passion began during his extensive studies of preventative medicine at the Ayurvedic Institute of New Mexico, and as we know, one of the pillars of Ayurvedic medicine is powerful herbal teas.
Naturally, by applying organic principles to the company ethos, the Art of Tea prides itself on supplying some of the world’s finest organic and speciality teas. Steve himself carries the fortunate responsibility of partaking in annual travels across the tea-producing countries (what a tedious part of the job, right?) to keep up-to-date with the newest and most delectable varieties.
Establishing and maintaining close relationships with tea growers is a mainstay of Art of Tea’s practices, ensuring that all involved receive the appropriate working conditions and respect they deserve.
Our favourite: Earl Grey Creme
Embodying the quintessentially Earl Grey flavours of black tea and floral bergamot, Art of Tea’s Earl Grey Creme pyramid sachets are infused with natural flavours to enrich the blend, resulting in a refreshing fullness.
Italian bergamot oil accounts for the natural citrus tones we’ve come to expect from exemplary Earl Grey teas, while the natural French Vanilla delivers that all-desirable creaminess.
Originating in China, coined in Britain and enjoyed throughout the world, Earl Grey’s aromatic fragrance has helped to cement its place as a global favourite.
Containing medium caffeine levels, Art of Tea’s Earl Grey Creme serves as an effective afternoon pick-me-up or a mid-morning refresher. Much less malty than breakfast teas, Earl Grey is often preferred by those who enjoy a more sophisticated, zesty flavour.
For a perfect cup, it’s recommended to infuse the tea for 3-5 minutes, and add a dash of milk if you desire.
Its artful flavour profile and all-natural ingredients mean we’ve rated Earl Grey Creme by Art of Tea as the best Earl Grey tea on the market.
Luxury tea buying guide: How to select high quality tea
There are a few things to remember when shopping for your new favourite luxury tea brand:
Consider the kind of tea drinker you are
To many of us, there’s only one way to enjoy a good cup brew: black tea, with milk. English breakfast tea, Earl Grey, Assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling are all popular types of black tea. Black tea does contain caffeine, but less than the equivalent of a coffee.
Therefore, it’s a great drink to kick-start your engines on a floundering afternoon while avoiding the mania that sometimes accompanies too much caffeine!
Of course, it’s also the Queen’s favourite beverage. So if you’re looking to channel your inner majesty, classic English breakfast is the way forward.
Mythbuster: White tea is not just black tea with milk added. Tea aficionados will have you promptly removed if you make that blunder at a high-tea party.
The most common varieties of white tea are Silver Needle, White Peony, Long Life Eyebrow and Tribute Eyebrow. We haven’t made those last two up, we promise.
White tea is known to be the least processed of all teas. The rawer form of the tea means it retains most of its antioxidants, making white tea super healthy as well as exceedingly delicious. White tea contains on average 15-20mg of caffeine per cup, so it’s ultra-safe if you’re a little sensitive.
Being both the new kid on the scene and as old as time, green tea is a favourite among many tea-sippers. Thought to have metabolic-boosting properties and a fair punch of antioxidants, this potent bitter brew has gained quite the reputation.
Due to its caffeine content of 40-50mg per cup, green tea can be a great substitute for your morning coffee, too.
It’s recommended that you don’t infuse green tea for longer than two minutes. As green tea fiends will know, it can be a little on the bitter side. Don’t be tempted to go overboard with the brewing, or you’ll lose that delicate taste!
Herbal teas are the treasure trove of the tea-world. Making fantastic use of herbs, flowers and essences, there are a-million-and-one flavours of herbal tea out there. Other than green varieties, most herbal teas have zero caffeine, making them super refreshing and safe to drink all day.
Night time teas
Many tea makers offer a night time blend of tea, crafted to promote a sound night’s sleep.
Calming ingredients such as lavender and valerian supply harmonising and soothing effects to the drinker. For a healthy, aromatic nightcap, check your chosen night time tea includes valerian.
Blended versus unblended teas, what’s the difference?
Black tea in bags is often blended, as are many fusions of herbal teas. Neither is decidedly ‘better’, but it’s good to be aware that the process of blending tends to be used to iron-out any inconsistencies of the tea-leaf quality.
Therefore, you can usually count on unblended tea to be of the utmost quality and have the most pleasurable tastes. This is more true with loose leaf teas.
Loose leaf tea or tea bags: what’s best?
It’s often said that loose leaf is far superior to teabags.
Generally speaking, this is true. Some brands disguise the lower quality of their tea leaves by encasing them in bags and therefore obscuring the tangible quality, the luxury tea brands we’ve listed go to great lengths to ensure all their tea is top quality.
When it comes to convenience, bagged tea is a winner as there’s considerably less preparation required.
However, invest in a good tea infuser, and your problems will be solved! This opens the possibility for indulging the highest quality loose leaf teas, which are often crafted from superior plants.
To blend or not to blend: Blended tea is where there are two or more types of tea present, in addition to flowers, herbs and spices.
On the other hand, unblended tea is where there is only one type of tea present. This can be preferable for a more pure taste.
Single origin: Single origin tea is a tea originating from one specific country or location. In some cases, this can be narrowed down to a square-kilometre within a single tea estate!
Liquor: Not to be confused with the strong alcohols we all know and love, the ‘liquor’ of tea takes place as soon as the infusion process starts; i.e, when the hot water hits the tea leaves. ‘Tea sommeliers’ may use this term liberally to describe the consistency and hue of the brewed tea.
Our methodology to select and rank the best team brands
To ensure fair reviewing, we’re using a combination of in-house tests and online user reviews to identify and rate the best tea brands available on the market today. The conjunction of the two approaches means you can be confident in our findings.