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People have consumed green tea for thousands of years. In beverage form, whether hot or iced, it's known for gentle flavors that range from earthy to sweet. On top of that, green tea can be used as an ingredient in everything from ice cream to cakes to smoothies. There are several varieties of green tea, two of the most popular being matcha and sencha.
We've rounded up our favorite green teas below and detailed what we like and even dislike about each one. We researched top-rated options in a range of categories to ensure that all sorts of tea drinkers can find the right pick. After all, everyone should be able to enjoy the culinary versatility and delicious taste of green tea.
Finding the right tea is only part of what it takes to enjoy a great cup. You'll also want to brush up on your brewing skills. "Mistakes with brewing tea usually involve time, temperature, or water-to-tea ratio," said tea educator Shunan Teng, founder and CEO of Tea Drunk. "This means brewing for too long or too short, using an incorrect temperature, or using too much or too little tea. Being mindful of all three factors will help people develop their tea-brewing techniques."
For a soothing cup, here are the best green teas to buy.
Best Overall: The Republic of Tea Honey Ginseng Green Tea
Comes in storage tin
Smooth and slightly sweet
Some say flavor is too gentle
If you’re looking for a refreshing, delicate cup of tea that balances sweet and nutty notes, look no further than The Republic of Tea’s People’s Honey Ginseng Green Tea. The tea leaves are sourced from China, where green tea originated, and blended with a few tasty ingredients like Panax ginseng, linden flowers, and honey for a signature flavor.
While the tea is only sold in bagged form, the brand offers a very similar blend in loose leaf for those who prefer that style. The Honey Ginseng Green Tea is easy to find both in-store and online, typically in a 50-count tin that helps seal in freshness. Extra-thirsty tea lovers can purchase it in a 250-count bulk bag, which is also a more cost-effective option.
Form: Tea bags | Caffeine: 20 to 30 milligrams | Steep Time: 1 to 3 minutes | Ingredients: China green tea, linden flowers, pollen, eleuthero, Panax ginseng, and honey flavor
Best Loose Leaf: Thrive Market Organic Darjeeling Green Loose Leaf Tea
Distinct but not overpowering taste
Steeping instructions on bag
Available in just one size
Only sold by Thrive Market
If you prefer loose-leaf green tea over bagged options, Thrive Market’s Organic Darjeeling Green Loose Leaf Tea is our top pick. Not only is the tea organic, but the leaves are handpicked and ethically sourced from local farmers, so each package helps support small communities in the Himalayas, from where the tea is harvested. And since the only ingredient is organic Darjeeling green tea leaves, the natural floral sweetness and smooth finish really shine through with each brewed cup.
Form: Loose leaf | Caffeine: 20 milligrams | Steep Time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds | Ingredients: Organic Darjeeling green tea leaves
"The number one thing to improve tea at home is to stop covering it. This is essential for green and yellow teas. For other kinds, if the tea isn't very good quality then leaving it open will increase the taste." — Shunan Teng, Founder and CEO of Tea Drunk
One way to brew tea openly is by using a fairness pitcher (or gong dao bei), which is common in Gong Fu brewing—a traditional Chinese style of tea preparation.
Best Organic: Buddha Teas Organic Sencha Green Tea
Available in loose leaf too
Boxes made from recycled material
Steeping instructions on box
Tea bags tear easily
There are lots of organic teas out there, but the Buddha Tea Organic Sencha Green Tea earned the spot of our best organic green tea for several reasons. The delicate and fresh taste is one of the big ones, of course, but it’s also a flavonoid-rich tea made without additives or artificial colors.
Like many organic tea manufacturers, Buddha Teas uses 100 percent organic green tea leaves to create this item, but the brand takes it a step further by using bleach-free tea bags. As an added bonus, the brand's boxes are made from recycled materials.
Form: Tea bags and loose leaf | Caffeine: 30 milligrams | Steep Time: 3 to 5 minutes | Ingredients: Organic green tea
Best Decaf: Celestial Seasonings Decaf Green Tea
Available in K-Cups
White tea blend to avoid bitterness
No strings on tea bags
When it comes to caffeinated beverages, green tea is fairly low on the list. An 8-ounce cup contains about 25 milligrams of caffeine. For comparison, the same size cup of coffee packs in 95 milligrams, while black tea hovers around 50 milligrams. But even though there’s not a lot of caffeine in green tea to start with, you may still be looking for a decaffeinated green tea. That’s where the Celestial Seasonings Decaf Green Tea comes in.
The brand combines green tea and white tea leaves for a smoother, mellower taste. The gentle flavor and lack of caffeine make it a great option right before bed. On the flip side, however, some customers wish the beverage had a slightly stronger flavor. The tea bags are sold in 40-count boxes, and there's a K-Cup version available for those who want their tea fast.
Form: Tea bags and K-Cups | Caffeine: 0 milligrams | Steep Time: 2 minutes | Ingredients: Decaffeinated green tea, decaffeinated white tea, and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
Best for Travel: Pique Tea Organic Jasmine Green Tea
Multiple flavors available
Dissolves well when stirred
Can make hot or iced tea
Expensive per serving
Designed for small servings
Pique is an innovator in the tea world, creating travel-friendly tea crystals that are soluble in both hot and cold water. Each box of Organic Jasmine Green Tea contains 14 individual packets that you can mix with hot water or pour right into bottled water and shake for iced tea, making it ideal for anyone consistently on the go.
So, what exactly are tea crystals? Pique's unique innovation takes loose-leaf tea and brews it in low-temperature water for 8 hours until it becomes a fast-dissolving powder. The brand says its gentle extraction process creates a sort of tea concentrate that preserves up to 12 times more antioxidants than comparable tea brands. The Organic Jasmine Green Tea is not only convenient, it also has a fresh flavor that makes each sip smooth and enjoyable.
Form: Tea crystals | Caffeine: 22 to 33 milligrams | Steep Time: N/A | Ingredients: Organic green tea and spearmint
Best Matcha: Encha Ceremonial Grade Organic Matcha Green Tea
Reasonably priced for ceremonial matcha
Vibrant color and aroma
Good choice for beginners
Packaged in bags not tins
A list of the best green teas wouldn’t be complete without at least one matcha option. Matcha, which literally means “powdered tea,” is a type of green tea that’s made by drying young tea leaves and then grinding them into a powder. The powder can be mixed with hot water for a traditional matcha or paired with your favorite milk or non-dairy milk substitute for a green tea latte.
There are lots of matcha options out there, but the Encha Ceremonial Grade Organic Matcha Green Tea earned the best matcha tea spot for several reasons. It has the light signature grassy flavor of matcha without being overpowering. Even if you’re new to matcha, you’ll enjoy the mellow, subtly sweet flavor of Encha.
It’s organic and comes directly from Kyoto, Japan—matcha’s birthplace. At first, the price may make you raise an eyebrow, but keep in mind that a little goes a really long way. You only need about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per cup, so you’ll get 30 to 60 servings from one pouch.
Form: Matcha powder | Caffeine: 60 milligrams | Steep Time: N/A | Ingredients: Pure matcha green tea powder
Best Iced: Pure Leaf Unsweetened Green Tea
Easy to find in-store and online
Multiple flavors available
Prices vary widely by retailer
May not be sweet enough for some
Pre-bottled iced teas can be full of sugar or artificial sweeteners, but the Pure Leaf Unsweetened Green Tea isn’t like most. Not only is it completely free of sugar, but it’s made with only three ingredients: brewed green tea, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), and natural flavor.
And the tea really is brewed from fresh tea leaves that are picked at their prime. There are no powders or concentrates used here. This simplicity gives it a crisp, clean flavor that tastes just like freshly brewed tea that you would make at home.
It also comes in three sizes—18.5 ounces, 59 ounces, and 64 ounces—so you can take a bottle with you on the go or keep it stocked in your refrigerator so you can pour a cold glass when an iced tea craving hits.
Form: Bottled iced tea | Caffeine: 44 milligrams | Steep Time: N/A | Ingredients: Brewed tea, ascorbic acid, and natural flavor
Best Flavored: GT's Living Foods Cosmic Cranberry Kombucha
Source of probiotics
Multiple flavors available
Not too sweet, not too tart
Slightly more sugar than other brands
If you’re not a fan of plain green tea but looking to get some antioxidants, GT’s Living Foods Cosmic Cranberry Kombucha has got you covered. GT’s combines a base of green tea, black tea, and kiwi juice with pure unsweetened cranberry juice to create a slightly sweetened fermented tea that’s likely to please all palates.
If the tartness of cranberry isn’t your thing, you can try GT’s Living Foods 25th Anniversary Sacred Life Kombucha, a limited-edition flavor that combines its signature kombucha tea base with coconut water, ginger, and spirulina or any of GT’s other flavors, including gingerade, cucumber mint lime, and strawberry lemonade, to name a few.
Form: Bottled kombucha | Caffeine: 8 to 16 milligrams | Steep Time: N/A | Ingredients: Kombucha culture, black tea, green tea, kiwi juice, and pure unsweetened cranberry juice
The Republic of Tea's People's Honey Ginseng Green Tea (view at Amazon) has everything you could want: it's affordable, easy to find, and offers a balance of sweet and earthy flavor. It can also be enjoyed iced! Those interested in a loose-leaf option, on the other hand, should check out Thrive Market's Darjeeling Green Loose Leaf Tea (view at Thrive Market).
What to Look for in Green Tea
Whether you're new to green tea or a seasoned sipper, knowing a bit about the different varieties will make it easier to choose the right option. Sencha is perhaps the most common variety and a great starting point for beginners. There's also gyokuro (a sweeter variety), matcha (known for lattes and baked goods), and many more.
It may seem minor, but the way your tea is packaged affects how it’s brewed and, subsequently, how it tastes. You'll likely see tea packaged in one of three ways: tea bags, sachets, or loose-leaf form. If you prefer quickness and convenience, tea bags might be the way to go. If you want to adjust tea strength to your specific taste, try loose leaf. Sachets strike the middle ground, storing loose tea in large, usually pyramid-shaped bags.
Like all kinds of tea, green tea comes in a wide variety of prices. You can pick up cheap bagged options in your local grocery store or find extremely pricey loose-leaf varieties online or at tea shops. Generally, you get what you pay for as far as quality, but luckily there are good options in every price range.
How do you make green tea?
Green tea is one of the gentlest tea varieties, so it’s best to use cooler water and steep for a shorter amount of time than you would with other teas. Shunan Teng, the founder and CEO of Tea Drunk, recommends starting with water around 176 to 194 degrees and steeping for about two minutes, then adjusting time and temperature based on your preferences. The recommended ratio, called the “golden ratio,” is 2 grams of tea for every 8 ounces of water. Similarly, Teng says, “This is a good starting point, and you can make adjustments from there.”
One key brewing tip she gives is to steep your tea in an open vessel. If you’re using a teapot, for instance, leave the lid off while the tea steeps. “When you cover tea, you can ‘overcook’ it and damage the flavor,” says Teng.
How do you make iced green tea?
There are two ways to make iced tea. The first is to steep tea leaves or tea bags in hot water and add ice afterward. This takes about 10 to 20 minutes. The second method is “cold brewing,” where you steep tea in cold water for a longer period of time, usually overnight. We break down both methods below.
For hot-brewed iced tea, start by heating 4 cups of water to your desired temperature. Keep in mind that you don’t want a fully rolling boil for green tea, though. Steep 4 tea bags or 4 tablespoons of loose leaf tea for around 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags or strain the loose leaf tea. After that, add 4 cups of cold water to dilute the concentrated tea. Finally, refrigerate until it's chilled or add ice and serve right away.
For cold-brewed iced tea, Teng recommends a ratio of 6 grams of loose leaf tea for every 25 ounces of water, or roughly 15 grams of tea for an 8-cup pitcher. All you have to do is leave the pitcher in the fridge for 36 to 48 hours for delicious iced green tea. “Cold brew is super simple,” Teng says. “It’s a foolproof and very forgiving method.” Keep in mind that it's best to drink cold-brewed iced tea very soon after the 48-hour brewing window has elapsed because it’s unpasteurized. Any longer than three days and the microorganisms in the tea may pose a health risk.
How much caffeine is in green tea?
The amount of caffeine in green tea varies widely, just like it does with all types of tea. Everything from where the tea is harvested to the way it's prepared affects caffeine content. On average, an 8-ounce cup of green tea contains roughly 25 milligrams of caffeine, but it can range from 12 to 75 milligrams. This is a relatively low amount, less than that of black and oolong tea. One quick way to gauge the amount of caffeine in a cup of tea is to focus on its bitterness. "Caffeine is bitter," says Teng, "so you can assume that the more bitter the tea, the more caffeine you're taking out of the leaves."
What's in a green tea shot?
Despite the name, there isn't actually green tea in a green tea shot. Instead, the sweet-and-sour shooter is made with four ingredients: equal parts Irish whiskey, peach schnapps, and sour mix, then a splash of lemon-lime soda.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive food and drink-testing experience. She’s developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the best options across all food and beverage categories.
This piece was updated by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of products, from tiny tea infusers to high-end kettles, and interviews field experts for their insight. He is especially a fan of matcha, enjoying it in everything from lattes and smoothies to the traditional form.
Shunan Teng is the founder and CEO of Tea Drunk and an avid tea educator. Tea Drunk was founded in 2013 and has a brick-and-mortar tea house in New York City. Its teaware and Chinese teas can be purchased online.