The experience of brewing tea has changed very little over the centuries. It doesn’t need to. This simple pleasure has been proven to help reduce the stress response and aid in recovering from stressful experiences. (Hello, Covid-19, we see you!) For Julie DeBord, master tea blender and production manager at Mountain Rose Herbs, tea — specifically loose-leaf tea — is calm. With a background in nutrition and nearly 20 years of experience in the tea trade, DeBord cites tea as an integral part of her well-being.
“One of the beauties of loose-leaf tea is the process of brewing it,” she says. “It makes you slow down — you’re not just grabbing a tea bag and running out the door. The ritual of making and drinking tea helps with stress and anxiety by giving you a moment to breathe, feel its warmth, be calm and be more mindful.”
In addition to appreciating the ritual of brewing loose-leaf tea, DeBord prefers it because of its purity. “With loose-leaf tea, the quality of the herbs is much higher,” she says. “You can see all the ingredients — they haven’t been overly processed by cutting them small enough to fit inside that tiny tea bag.”
“The more you cut your herbs,” she continues, “the more susceptible the herbs become to degrading and sometimes gives them a shorter shelf life. I find loose-leaf tea is more beautiful — you can see whole flowers and spices, and it has a richer flavor and taste profile than a tea bag.”
Explore the ancient ritual of loose-leaf tea and test its stress-reducing qualities with these modern blends, subscription services and accessories.
Loose-leaf teas to try
For Her Tea Blend (starting at $13; artoftea.com)
Ingredients: organic shatavari, organic fennel, roses, green rooibos, organic lavender, chrysanthemum, organic hibiscus, natural flavors
A flavorful blend intended to help alleviate the symptoms brought on by various hormonal cycles and, at the very least, bring some comfort.
Silver Needle White Tea (starting at $6; californiateahouse.com)
Known as the “high society” white tea from the Fuding and Zhenghe districts of China’s Fujian province, Silver Needle offers a sweet, clean flavor profile and contains approximately 30 to 55 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
Chai Collection ($16.80, originally $24; teabox.com)
The beloved spiced black tea of India, chai has become a staple among tea connoisseurs the world over. Teabox has put together a collection of eight authentic chai blends, each offering a unique palette of warm, deep flavors.
21st Century Tea Blend (starting at $6.50; mountainroseherbs.com)
Ingredients: organic nettle leaf, organic red clover blossoms, organic elderberries, organic alfalfa leaf, organic red clover herb, organic St. John’s wort, organic sage, organic ginger root
Believed by many, including DeBord, to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, nettle leaf finds its way into many of Mountain Rose Herbs’ tea blends. This particular blend claims to strengthen one’s immune system during times of stress and seasons of discontent.
Sleep Tea Blend (starting at $15; artoftea.com)
Ingredients: organic chamomile, organic spearmint, organic lemon balm, organic valerian, organic lemongrass, organic passionflower, organic rose petals
Bright, minty and smooth, this relaxing nighttime tea contains valerian root, a well-known natural sleep aid.
Darjeeling Special Summer Oolong Tea (starting at $3; teabox.com)
With notes of wood, spice and orange blossom, this bright, summery tea can be enjoyed hot or brewed into a lively iced tea.
Liu Bao Basket Tea (starting at $10; generationtea.com)
Liu Bao, or “six forts,” tea is grown in China’s Guangxi province and is traditionally aged in handwoven baskets. An ancient tea that is still enjoyed today, Liu Bao is unique in that it is semi-fermented, with vintage varieties — from the 1960s, for example — fetching exorbitantly high prices.
The Blues Tea Blend (starting at $6.75; mountainroseherbs.com)
Ingredients: organic nettle leaf, organic St. John’s wort, organic spearmint leaf, organic damiana leaf, organic valerian root
Getting “the blues” is a part of the human experience. According to DeBord, this flavorful blend was created with the intention of elevating one’s mood. “The Blues blend would be a nice one during these times,” she says. “I touched on how wonderfully supportive nettle is, and it is the first ingredient in this blend.”
Tea subscription services to explore
Art of Tea’s Tea of the Month Club (starting at $70 for 3 months; artoftea.com)
A subscription plan that offers tea classics, rare finds and specialty blends.
Dollar Tea Club (starting at $1 per month; theteaclub.com)
One of the most affordable tea subscription services, Dollar Tea Club touts direct-trade and ethically sourced teas for a wide range of palates. They also offer unique accessories such as compostable tea pouches. The $1 per month subscription delivers three different blends that will provide a total of about nine cups of tea each month.
The California Tea House Tea Club (starting at $14 per month; californiateahouse.com)
Choose from five different flavor plans and four different weight offerings. So, whether you’re strictly a green tea drinker on weekends or want to experience a variety of leaves multiple times per day, there’s a plan for you.
Tea accessories to experience
Toptier Japanese Cast-Iron Teapot With Stainless Steel Infuser ($45.99; amazon.com)
Cast-iron teapots have been around for hundreds of years. We are loving this updated spin on the classic that combines an antique art form with modern design. This teapot comes in several colors and patterns to choose from, but we’re eyeing the pink and green options.
Yoassi FDA-Approved 18/8 Stainless Steel Tea Infuser Mesh Strainer ($7.99, originally $8.99; amazon.com)
Our editors swear by this as a simple way to turn any cup or teapot into a loose-leaf tea experience. It is dishwasher-safe, and the mesh is fine enough that very few tea particles end up in the brewed tea.
Mueller Premium 1500W Electric Kettle With SpeedBoil Tech ($25.97; amazon.com)
The workhorse of water boiling, this Mueller electric kettle is built to last and will boil water lightning-quick. It boasts more than 5,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, with one reviewer saying, “This is the most efficient electric kettle I’ve ever used.”
CoBak Tea Infuser Mug With Lid in English White ($25.95; amazon.com)
Style up your tea infusion game with this cool mug that comes with a built-in (and removable) tea infuser.
Pure Zen Tea Tumbler With Infuser ($34.95, originally $40.75; amazon.com)
If your tea needs to travel, this infuser bottle will fit perfectly in a car cup holder or backpack side pocket. The infuser piece is removable and can be replaced with a plain base to prevent the tea from getting bitter, or for using the bottle for other drinks on the go. It comes with a neoprene sleeve and is double-walled so that the temperature stays consistent inside longer.
Ember 10-Ounce Temperature Control Smart Mug in White ($109.99; amazon.com)
After properly brewing tea, transfer it to an Ember mug to keep it at the optimal temperature all day by using the coaster — aka Charger — or for up to an hour on its own.
Biodegradable Filter Bags, 100-Count ($9; artoftea.com)
An eco-friendly option for those who want to combine the quality of loose-leaf tea with the convenience of single-serving tea bags.
Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Pour-Over Kettle in Polished ($149; amazon.com)
Speaking of elevating the tea experience with modern design, this electric kettle will boil water but also look amazing on the countertop when not in use. It comes in polished metal or matte black.
2-Quart Iced Tea Kit ($35; artoftea.com)
Perfect for summertime, this iced tea kit includes a 66-ounce BPA-free Takeya iced tea pitcher and four 2-quart iced tea pouches of your choosing.
Meraki Teapot ($20.69, originally $29.99; teabox.com)
A convenient and eco-friendly accessory to brew your favorite loose-leaf tea.
Modern Double-Wall Glass Insulated Teacups, Set of 4 ($14.99; amazon.com)
These small and elegant double-walled tea glasses probably make mindfully drinking tea feel like the ritual it is meant to be. They’re just the right size for a few sips so that you can use your favorite teapot to refill as needed.
Artisan Muslin Tea Bags, 15-Pack ($5.50; teabox.com)
Can be used to brew a single serving or an entire pitcher of loose-leaf tea. The best part is that these artisanal tea bags are reusable.
Le Creuset Enamel-on-Steel Demi Tea Kettle in Caribbean ($69.95; amazon.com)
Add a little bit of color to your tea ritual with a colorful Le Creuset stovetop tea kettle. We’re loving the Caribbean and Flame colors, but really, they’re all good.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.