“Thomas, which teas do you recommend – and where should I buy them?” – this is easily one of the most frequently asked questions about tea that I get asked during my tea seminars or over on social media. In order to help you find your next favourite tea at an appropriate price, I have come up with the following list of teas, most of which I recommend everyone to try at least once. For each tea, I will provide a link to an online store that I personally have bought teas from and whose quality and pricing I deem appropriate. Whether you are looking for white tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea or heicha: on this list, you should always be able to find something that suits your taste and mood.
Anji Baicha (安吉白茶) GREEN TEA
Hailing from Anji County in China’s Zhejiang province, this green tea is special to me in so many ways. Made from the Bai Ye No. 1 (白叶一号) cultivar, the leaves of this green tea appear pale green early in spring, due to a very low amount of chlorophyll – which has led to the tea being called “white” despite its processing as a green tea. Although there are more affordable Chinese green teas that offer a similar experience, this prestigious original is still my personal preference. Or, as my former mentor put it: “This is the only tea I’ll truly ever need.”
Advertisement: Buy Anji Baicha from Teasenz(1)
Baihao Yinzhen (白毫银针) WHITE TEA
Also known as Silver Needle. A famous white tea from Fujian province.
Advertisement: Buy Baihao Yinzhen from Teasenz(1)
Balhyocha (발효차) BLACK TEA
Also known as Woori, this exceptional black tea (that behaves more like an oolong, really) will enchant you with its unique, long-lasting notes of cocoa and caramel.
Advertisement: Buy Balhyocha made by tea master Cho Yun Seok from Jukro Tea(5)
Daejak (대작) GREEN TEA
An excellent Korean green tea from the third harvest, and one of my preferred green teas overall – made by one of my favourite tea masters in the world, Cho Yun Seok.
Advertisement: Buy Daejak from Jukro Tea(5)
Darjeeling First Flush OOLONG/BLACK TEA
This tea is often marketed as a black tea, but its liquor colour hints at the fact that technically it is more of an unroasted oolong tea, due to its incomplete oxidation process.
Dongding (凍頂) OOLONG TEA (LIGHT)
Originally hailing from Dongding mountain, this medium-roasted oolong tea is by many considered the most balanced of the Taiwanese bunch. Its liqour appears less green in colour (more towards a bright orange) – especially when compared to high mountain oolongs, like Alishan or Lishan.
Dongfang Meiren (東方美人) OOLONG TEA (DARK)
Also known as Oriental Beauty. An oolong tea with fruity notes and a distinct amber hue, due to its higher level of oxidation (about 70%). My special pick for fans of second flush Darjeeling teas who wish to try something truly spectacular!
Advertisement: Buy Dongfang Meiren from KOS-tea(3)
Longjing (龍井茶) GREEN TEA
Also known as Dragon Well. A famous Chinese green tea from the West Lake region in Hangzhou.
Advertisement: Buy Longjing from Teasenz(1)
Sencha (煎茶) GREEN TEA
This most well-known out of the vast variety of Japanese green teas is also still my favourite. High-quality sencha can easily compete with other Japanese teas that are famous for their elegance, like Gyokuro or Kabusecha.
Advertisement: Buy Sencha Haru from KOS-tea(3)
Shengcha (生茶) PU-ERH TEA (RAW)/GREEN TEA
Often referred to as sheng pu-erh, this term describes a range of teas that, according to their processing, could initially be categorised as green. Due to a natural fermentation process, the profile of shengcha gradually develops and becomes more complex over the course of the tea leaves being stored for years (or, rather: decades), usually in the form of pressed tea cakes.
Advertisement: Buy 2007 Sunsing Mangzhi Sheng Puerh Teacake from ANMO ART/CHA4)
Yabao (芽包) WHITE TEA
Sometimes sold as Pu Er Bai Ya, what gets picked for this tea are the twig buds of old tea plants grown in the misty forests of Yunnan. Much like any other white tea, Yabao yields has fresh, clear liqour tjat will surprise you with its subtle spicy notes. Also great for cold brew!
Advertisement: Buy Wild Purple Yabao from Teasenz(1)
(1) This link will lead you to Teasenz.eu, an online tea store based in the Netherlands that specialises in high quality Chinese teas. Thanks to my affiliate agreement with them, you will get 5% off on each purchase on their online store by using my affiliate links or the check-out code THOMASTALKSTEA. I will receive a small commission on each sale made this way.
(2) This link will lead you to teequartier.de, the online shop of a local tea store in Cologne, Germany. Due to an ongoing collaboration, I may receive a commission on their online sales.
(3) This link will lead you to kos-tea-shop.com, the online shop of a local tea store in Berlin, Germany. I am not affiliated with their business, and I current will not receive any commission on their sales.
(4) This link will lead you to anmo-art-cha.com, the online shop of a tea store in Dusseldorf, Germany. I am not affiliated with their business, and I current will not receive any commision on their sales.
(5) This link will lead you to jukro.co.kr, the online shop of Korean tea producer Jukro Tea. I am not affiliated with their business, and I current will not receive any commision on their sales. Please note that Jukro Tea may not be able to ship to your location. I’m currently looking for recommendable sources outside Korea.