Herbal teas offer versatility of flavor and usage in your beverage repertoire. Options are endless when you consider that you can blend multiple loose leaf options to concoct any flavor you're craving, whether you prefer a dessert-like rooibos tea or fruity chamomile option. Herbal teas can also be lovely when infused in alcohol for a unique cocktail or used in non-alcoholic cocktail recipes. They're also good at any time of day. Some people prefer them in the morning for a tasty boost, although they can serve as a warm beverage to sip and savor at the end of a long day.
From loose leaf options to trusty tea bags, here are the best herbal teas to enjoy.
Harney & Sons Chamomile Herbal Tea
Reusable tin to keep tea fresher
Only contains flower heads
Pricier than competitors
Harney & Sons is one of the best-known tea purveyors in the U.S. It offers well-sourced teas, both on its own and in delicious blends, that customers love. The chamomile is especially delicious and offers a fruity, honeyed complexity that is hard to find from competitors. All the chamomile is sourced from Egypt, and the company only uses flower heads (as opposed to some other brands that use stems and other parts of the plant as filler). The reusable tin seals tightly to keep the sachets inside extra fresh. It’s not the cheapest option, but if you love chamomile tea, this is the best on the market.
Price at time of publish: $11
Ingredients: Chamomile | Origin: Egypt | Certifications: Certified Kosher | Quantity: 20 bags
FGO Organic Ginger Tea Bags
No tags, strings, or dyes
100 bags per pack
Have to retrieve bag with spoon
Ginger tea is a popular go-to for many tea drinkers because of its spicy profile. Whether you’re new to ginger tea or a longtime enjoyer, the FGO Organic Ginger Tea Bags are an excellent option. It comes with 100 bags, making it around $0.15 per bag. It also comes in larger chunks, meaning the spice and aroma will stay fresher, and it’s all organic and sourced from India. Bonus: The bags are compostable after you’re done with them.
Price at time of publish: $20
Ingredients: Ginger root | Origin: India | Certifications: Certified Organic and Non-GMO | Quantity: 100 bags | Compostable: Yes
“Herbal tea is calorie- and caffeine-free, immunity boosting, and detoxifying.” — Navdeep Kaur, Dona’s Director of Education
My Red Tea Organic Rooibos Tea
80 bags per pack
Rooibos is lovely in its own right, but it also makes a delicious, caffeine-free substitute for black tea due to its rich, roasty notes and natural sweetness. Rooibos is a plant native to South Africa, where it's been enjoyed for centuries. My Red Tea Organic Rooibos Tea, sourced organically from South Africa, is rich and flavorful—the perfect place to start if you’re new to herbal tea or rooibos.
Price at time of publish: $15
Ingredients: Rooibos | Origin: South Africa | Certifications: Certified Organic and Non-GMO | Quantity: 80 bags | Compostable: Yes
Teatulia Organic Lemongrass Tea + Bay Leaf Herbal Blend
No strings, dyes, or staples
Have to retrieve bag with spoon
Lemongrass is known for its floral, citrusy notes. This particular option is sourced from North Bangladesh and tastes refreshing and flavorful. The bay leaf used in this blend adds a bit of richness to those very floral, zesty notes, as well as a light orange flavor. It can be brewed hot or cold to satisfy any sipping craving. The bags, made of corn silk, are free of string, dye, and staples, and they're compostable once you’re done with them.
Price at time of publish: $22
Ingredients: Lemongrass, bay leaf | Origin: Bangladesh | Certifications: Certified Organic, Certified Kosher, Certified B Corp, Rainforest Alliance Certified | Quantity: 50 bags | Compostable: Yes
“My favorite way of drinking herbal tea is to cold brew it. It makes for a refreshing drink in the summer.” — Navdeep Kaur, Dona’s Director of Education
Teapigs Peppermint Leaves Tea Bags
Pricier than competitors
If peppermint tea sometimes doesn't deliver on the icy, minty flavor you're craving, look no further than this brand. Teapigs promises “the mintiest mint of all time” with these bags, and that's exactly what you get. The company uses fresh, flavorful whole mint leaves in its bags, offering the fullness of flavor in convenient bag form. Teapigs is a reliably great brand for any tea or tea blend you might be looking for, but for lovers of mint tea, the peppermint variety is an absolute must.
Price at time of publish: $25
Ingredients: Peppermint | Origin: Unknown | Quantity: 50 bags | Compostable: Yes
Palais des Thés Herbal Teas Gift Box
On the pricier side
Looking for an elegant gift for your favorite herbal tea drinker? Rather than sticking to one type of tea, get them this sampler from Palais des Thés. Each box comes with 36 bags and six blends: Uniqueness (elderberry, black currant, and orange), Relaxation (chamomile, apple, spices), Digestion (anise, peppermint, lemon balm), Energy (lemongrass, ginger, carrot), Relaxation (lemon verbena, orange, mint), and Antioxidant (turmeric, licorice, lemon verbena). First started in 1986, Palais des Thés was founded by François-Xavier Delmas, who travels the world in search of the best teas and blends. In other words: It’s wonderful for any tea lover.
Price at time of publish: $38
Ingredients: Elderberry, black currant, orange, chamomile, apple, anise, peppermint, lemon balm, lemongrass, ginger, carrot, verbena, mint, turmeric, licorice | Origin: Various | Certifications: Certified Organic | Quantity: 6 bags each of 6 flavors, total of 36 bags | Dimensions of Box: 9 x 7 x 2 inches
“I use loose-leaf herbal teas so I can control the amount of tea and the flavor that goes in a tea cup.” — Navdeep Kaur, Dona’s Director of Education
Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Extra Relaxation Valerian Tea
Valerian root has an unpleasant smell
Only 16 bags per box
Pure relaxation shouldn’t be too far off with this blend of tea that highlights valerian root. Valerian root sometimes has an unpleasant smell and strong, bitter flavor, but this mix adds other herbs that help mask that, lending it an earthy, minty flavor. The 16 bags each have a string and tab, so the sachet won’t get lost in your cup, and the blend is 100 percent organic and non-GMO certified.
Price at time of publish: $5
Ingredients: Valerian root, passionflower, lemon balm, peppermint, caraway fruit, licorice root | Origin: Unknown | Certifications: Certified Organic and Non-GMO, Certified Kosher, Certified B Corp | Quantity: 16 bags | Compostable: Yes
“My go-to herbal teas tend to be peppermint, citrusy blends, or anything with ginger. There is such a huge kind of array, so it’s fun to just try a ton and see what you like. It’s a fun way to make hydration more interesting for your palate.” — Alanna Cabrero, MS, RDN, CDN
What To Look for When Buying Herbal Tea
Herbal tea should be pretty simple—a plant or two steeped in water. Ideally, the ingredient list should consist of the names of a couple plants, all of which are recognizable.
As soon as your tea is pulverized, whether it’s caffeinated or herbal, it will quickly start losing its aroma and potency. Larger pieces found in tea bags typically mean your tea's character will last longer. Loose leaf is great for this in general, but we did include tea bag options with bigger pieces of the plant.
“When looking for herbal tea, one can look for seasonal specialties—fruity and floral flavors in the summer and warming herb and spice flavors in the winter,” says Navdeep Kaur, Dona’s Director of Education.
“One should go with tea companies that make herbal blends in small batches, which keeps the freshness of herbs and botanicals intact,” says Kaur. It’s usually easier to control quality with small batches, plus it’s likely there are less machines involved in the processing, which can help preserve the freshness and integrity of the tea. Also, the tea blends probably aren’t left in storage for long periods and are likely to be more fresh.
Color of the Leaves
If the dried leaves look more brown than green, they are probably old and not as fresh (unless your tea contains a bark or some roots, which may be brown).
Strong, Natural Scent
If you open a bag or box of tea and you don’t have a strong smell greeting you, your tea may not be very fresh. Herbal tea is typically very fragrant, and should smell like whatever is listed in the ingredients. It should not have a “chemical” scent.
What is herbal tea?
Herbal tea is not actually tea. It does not come from the tea plant, which is where black, white, oolong, and green teas are derived from. Herbal teas are actually blends of various leaves, fruits, bark, roots, or flowers that come from edible plants and herbs. They are sometimes called tisanes and are usually caffeine-free. “Herbal tea aka tisane, is a beverage made from infusions or concentrating the essence and flavor of dried herbs, florals, fruits or spices in hot water,” says Kaur.
What is the difference between herbal tea and black or green tea?
“Green tea comes from the leaves of tea plants (camellia sinensis) which are further processed and oxidized to make black tea,” Kaur says. “While some herbal tea blends consist of green or black tea leaves along with herbs, flowers, fruits and spices, most herbal tea blends do not use tea leaves. Hence, herbal teas are mostly non-caffeinated.”
Does herbal tea have caffeine?
When we talk about “herbal tea,” we’re usually talking about tea made from any plant that is not camellia sinensis (what black, white, and green tea comes from). Practically, all herbal teas are caffeine-free. The only exception would be blends that have caffeine added or yerba mate, a South American plant-based beverage that contains caffeine.
Does herbal tea count as water intake?
Alanna Cabrero, MS, RDN, CDN, says yes. “Herbal tea is a great option for those who are feeling a little bored with plain water.”
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Writer and professional cheese eater Christine Clark is a food and beverage nerd—she loves finding new gems made by small producers and, unfortunately for her bank account, tends to be willing to pay whatever it takes to try them. She is a devoted tea drinker who enjoys three to five cups of tea per day, both herbal and otherwise.
Devorah Lev-Tov, who updated this roundup, writes about food and travel and has appeared in print and online for a wide variety of celebrated publications, including The New York Times and Saveur.
Navdeep Kaur is the director of education for Dona.
Alanna Cabrero, MS, RDN, CDN is a Brooklyn-based gut health dietitian.
United States Department of Agriculture. Labeling organic products.