Tea Bag Brands - Best / Top in US

by cazort

How do you know how to choose between the staggering number of tea bag brands available in the US? Here I give some tips for picking the brand you are likely to enjoy most.

The number of brands of tea on the market is staggering. Pictured here is a shelf in the coffee and tea aisle in a PathMark supermarket in Delaware. The tea extends two full photo-widths beyond the right side of the camera--and this store by no means has an unusual or outstanding tea selection.

How do you know what to buy? This page will give you some tips for selecting the best tea bags.

Which brand is best depends a lot on what you're looking for.

This page gives an overview of some of the more mainstream brands of tea bags.

If you are looking for an exhaustive list of tea companies, check out RateTea's list of brands of tea. This list is updated continuously, as new companies are listed on that site.

Tea Bag Brands in Mariposa Co-op, West Philadelphia
Tea Bag Brands in Mariposa Co-op, West Philadelphia
Photo by Alex Zorach

Buy From Each Company's Strengths

Find what each brand specializes in, and buy those teas. Avoid teas outside a company's areas of expertise.

Tea culture is diverse, and there are many different largely non-overlapping traditions of tea, associated with different countries, production methods, and styles of tea preparation.

The main divides are between English and British tea culture, and the closely related European cultures, which favor strong black teas and blends like Earl Grey, and the Asian cultures which tend to focus more on green teas. Asian tea culture is further divided into Japanese green teas vs. Chinese green teas and other Chinese teas like oolong and Pu-erh.  Pu-erh is really a culture of its own, appreciated mostly by a small group of connoisseurs. Different tea companies focus on teas from different countries and cultures.

There are also numerous companies that specialize in herbal teas: some of these brands specialize in medicinal teas, whereas others focus on herbal teas more as beverages. Also common are blends of tea with herbs and other flavorings, common among mainstream brands like Tazo and Bigelow.  Even among brands that focus on flavored teas, there are certain flavor aesthetics that each company favors or leans towards.  Learning these can help you buy what you most enjoy drinking.

If you want to buy Japanese tea, buy from a Japanese company or one with Japanese roots or expertise, not one that focuses on English teas, and vice versa if you want a British-style tea. Think of what teas you enjoy the most, and buy from a brand with a focus on those styles of tea.

Learn a bit more about tea culture so you can make more informed choices!
The Tea Companion (Connoisseur's Guides)

More and more people are turning to tea as their primary hot beverage, and connoisseurs are discovering the wondrous range of flavors to be found in different varieties from aro...

View on Amazon

Examples of Brands and Their Focus

These are mainstream brands, widely available in most supermarkets in the US.

There are so many tea companies out there that this section cannot do them justice: this selection shows four of the brands you are most likely to see in a typical supermarket in the U.S.

  • Twinings - Focuses on British-style teas, such as Earl Grey, English and Irish Breakfast, Ceylon, etc. Also offers a few herbals, such as chamomile (which they spell Camomile).
  • Celestial Seasonings - Best known for their herbal teas, Celestial Seasonings also sells a few green teas and blends, and a few wellness teas or medicinal teas.
  • Bigelow Tea - This company specializes in flavored teas and blends; it also sells a few pure teas and herbal teas.
  • Stash Tea - Stash started out selling loose-leaf tea, but expanded into the mainstream tea bag market and made it huge. This company has a large selection and is hard to generalize about, but it is most known for its flavored teas and blends.

Brands Found in Asian Markets

My favorite brands of Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese Tea Bags

If you only buy tea at a standard supermarket, you will often be quite limited in terms of the brands available to you. But if you seek out Asian groceries or Asian supermarkets, you will find some brands which offer better options, especially for Chinese and Japanese teas. Some of my favorite brands that are common in these stores include:

  • Foojoy - Foojoy sells extremely inexpensive Chinese teas. They are low-end, but surprisingly high quality for their bargain price.
  • Yamamotoyama - Yamamotoyama is a Japanese tea company (which incidentally owns Stash tea); they are reasonably priced and offer Japanese teas of good quality.  I am especially a fan of their hojicha (roasted green tea) and gemaicha (brown rice tea).
  • Ten Ren - My favorite company selling tea in basic tea bags, Ten Ren specializes in Taiwanese teas but also sells teas from mainland China. Two of their offerings, Ten Wu and Tung Ting, both greener oolongs, are among the best teas I've ever tasted in teabag form, and are quite reasonably priced.
You can also buy Foojoy on Amazon.com. Here I've hand-picked two of their offerings which are among my favorites.
Foojoy Lungching Green Tea 100 Tea Bags

Lungching (also known as Dragonwell) Green Tea has long been celebrated in tea lore and is famous for its association with the serene beauty of the West Lake in zhejiang, where ...

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Foojoy Wuyi Mtn. Oolong (Wu Long) Weight Loss Tea 100 Tea Bags,NET WEIGHT 7 OZ.

Oolong tea has an incredibly high natural concentration of polymerized polyphenols. These polyphenol compounds have been clinically proven to activate enzymes that cause triglyc...

View on Amazon

Consider Loose-Leaf Tea - Quality & Affordable

Consider giving loose tea a chance, for better value and quality!

Although I made this lens primarily for people looking for info about tea bags, and while I from time to time enjoy tea in this form, I'm mainly a loose tea drinker.

The main three reasons I prefer buying and drinking loose-leaf tea are price, quality, and sustainability.  Paying less for packaging means you are getting higher-quality tea for your money, and contributing less to waste.

More Pages about Tea

RateTea is a social and community website where anyone can rate and review teas.
A comparison of tea and coffee, on the grounds of caffeine content, health effects, cost, acidity, and other benefits. I admit my bias, as I'm a tea lover.
A comparison of Teavana vs. Adagio Teas, comparing price, value, quality, company ethics, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of both companies.
Updated: 10/23/2014, cazort
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CruiseReady on 07/25/2015

Your article reminded me that I used to love a tea called 'Constant Comment.' I haven't enjoyed it in quite a while, but seem to remember it was by Bigelow. Thanks for the reminder!

sheilamarie on 11/17/2014

I'm a big tea drinker. I like your advice about buying from a company's strengths. Just in what's offered in black tea, there is a wide range of quality from brand to brand.

cazort on 10/22/2014

Oh, thanks for pointing out about the photo...I am not able to fix that right now but when I get back to work during my regular workday, I will fix that. This is one of the many pages I moved over from Squidoo, and in the process, I've had to upload pictures separately and the pictures aren't up yet from this article...I have been wanting to add even more pictures too, as they're easier to work with on this site.

Mira on 10/22/2014

Oh, I wish you had included that thumbnail photo in the article as well. It would have been interesting to see, and it would also allow for pinning.

Mira on 10/22/2014

I've bought from Adagio in the past, for friends. Their offer looked appealing, and the prices were ok. I see you have a page about Adagio and Teavana. I'll go read it :)

cazort on 10/03/2014

I've never tried that one, but I do tend to like Yogi's herbal blends...I have had real, brewed kombucha, which I tried once in Austin, TX, and it was weird--very sour and I wasn't a huge fan. But yeah, I think Stash is pretty solid. I remember starting to really like Stash teas when I first tried them in college, I think I first tried their jasmine, but I since became a fan of their lemon ginger, ginger peach, chai, and fusion green & white teas.

I always recommend people to keep trying other brands though, and especially to try loose tea. Although I do like Stash a lot, when I started trying a broader range of teas, I discovered a lot of stuff I liked even more. Stash as a company, actually also sells loose tea online! I've never tried any of theirs though, but just from looking at their descriptions on the website, and the picture of the leaf, it looks pretty legit.

dustytoes on 10/03/2014

I've recently found the Stash line of tea and like it very much, but the tea I buy most is Yogi's Green Tea Kombucha.

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