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Green tea, black tea, herbal tea. Matcha, pu-erh, masala chai. There are countless tea varieties in the world—experts typically put the number in the thousands—and sampler sets are the best way to experiment, expand your palette, and learn your preferences. They also make wonderful gifts because they’re suitable for everyone from new tea drinkers to seasoned vets looking to shake things up.
We’ve rounded up our favorite samplers below, an array of products that range in price, packaging style (i.e. bags, sachets, or loose leaf), and of course tea variety. Take your taste buds on a trip around the globe, one cup at a time.
Here are the best tea samplers to buy.
Most Popular: Taylors of Harrogate Classic Tea Variety Box
This 48-count tea sampler from Taylors of Harrogate—an English company that's been crafting tea since 1886—is backed by thousands of glowing online reviews. Praise for this eclectic and affordably priced set ranges from how giftable it is to the delicious taste of each blend.
Inside the elegant black-and-gold accented box are eight different tea varieties, with six tea bags per variety. The sampler includes: English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Decaffeinated Breakfast, Lemon & Orange, Pure Assam, Green Tea with Jasmine, Organic Peppermint, and Organic Chamomile.
Some of the top customer comments say how enjoyable it was trying teas different from what they usually drink. Many also mention that they either gave or received the set as a gift, giving five stars for the results.
Form: Tea bags | Number of Tea Varieties: Eight | Size: 48 tea bags
Widest Variety: Solstice Tea Traders Loose Leaf Tea Sampler
If you're new to tea and want to try the widest possible variety, Solstice Tea Traders has a sampler to help you out. These loose leaf teas are sold in reusable metal tins and are a budget-friendly option for the widest sampling of teas.
In this sampler, you will receive enough tea for 10 servings each of 12 different teas that range from Gunpowder Green Tea to Masala Chai Black Tea and much more. Unfortunately the brand provides little information about how to steep the teas, so customers may have to look online to ensure the best results.
Form: Loose leaf | Number of Tea Varieties: 12 | Size: 0.75 to 1.5 ounces of each tea depending on variety
Best Loose Leaf: Tea Forte Classic Teas Single Steeps Tea Chest
Tea Forte offers a number of samplers and assortment boxes filled with delicious handcrafted loose leaf tea blends. Options range from black tea samplers to chai and even matcha. Some can get a little pricey, but the flavor and convenience justify the cost. The brand's Single Steep samplers contain precisely measured loose leaf tea packets that make it easy to brew a 12-ounce cup. Tea Forte is also known for its signature pyramid-shaped tea infusers, which can be purchased in a number of sampler sets as well.
Form: Loose leaf | Number of Tea Varieties: 28 | Size: 28 single-steep packets
Best Pouch: Adagio Tea's Tea Sample Sets
Adagio Tea offers a large range of tea samplers. Each includes four to six sample pouches of tea, and each sample includes enough loose leaf tea to brew 8 to 10 cups.
It is easy to get lost in this selection of tea samplers because there are so many. They're also very specialized, so they're great for both beginners and connoisseurs. If you're interested in exploring 'Teas of Japan,' there's a sampler for that. Have you heard about the various Earl Grey teas available? There's a sampler for that.
From florals to fruits and chai to iced tea, you will not be bored by Adagio's selection.
Form: Loose leaf | Number of Tea Varieties: 3 or 4 | Size: 1.6 to 3.2 ounces
Best Bulk: Mighty Leaf Tea Sampler
For those who prefer tea bags and tea sachets over loose leaf tea, Mighty Leaf Tea has a number of themed tea pouch samplers. Most impressive of these are the 'Master' samplers.
Whether you're interested in comparing black teas or want an introduction to either white teas and green teas or herbal teas, there is a sampler for you. Each specializes in a different type of tea and includes 108 tea bags, between 12 and 18 of each tea. This will give you plenty of cups to enjoy and discover.
Form: Tea bags | Number of Tea Varieties: One | Size: 100 pouches
Best Themed: Revolution Tea Collections
Revolution Tea offers variety packs of their teabags with themes like "Best of the Best" (most popular), "Holiday Cheer," and "Green and White Celebration." The full selection is available on their website, but a nice introduction is this six tea gift box set that includes black teas and green teas along with fruit and spice tea blends to try.
What we enjoy most about Revolution is that they've packaged loose leaf tea in tea bags (what the company call 'full-leaf tea bags'). This gives you convenience and great tea in one package.
Form: Infuser tea bag | Number of Tea Varieties: Five | Size: 5- or 30-count box
Smallest Carbon Footprint: Arbor Teas Sampler
Arbor Teas specializes in organic tea with sustainable packaging and delivery. The Michigan-based company is GMO free, Fair Trade Certified, and sends all their products in 100 percent backyard compostable packaging. From the moment the tea is planted to when it arrives at your door, sustainability is at the forefront.
They offer more than a dozen delicious tea samplers, all of which come in loose leaf form. One potential drawback is that most sampler sets are sorted by tea variety, meaning you won't find black tea in the same set as rooibos tea, for example, but this can also benefit customers who have a sense of what tea they already like. You can explore all the types in your favorite tea family. Herbal tea lovers will enjoy a sampler of Chamomile, Orange Spice Lemongrass Tisane, Peppermint, and Rooibos. Arbor Teas also offers region-specific samplers, native to India, Japan, and China.
Form: Loose leaf | Number of Tea Varieties: Four | Size: Boxes contain four packets with two tablespoons of tea each
Best GMO-free: Golden Moon Tea Loose Leaf Tea Sampler
Golden Moon is a tea company you will want to get to know. They offer a variety of loose leaf teas that are USDA Certified Organic, GMO-free, and not sprayed with additional flavors.
This particular tea sampler offers 48 servings of Golden Moon's top four teas: Masala Chai, English Breakfast, Mint Medley, and Rooibos. It's a nice little collection that showcases the best of the greater world of tea.
Form: Loose leaf | Number of Tea Varieties: Four | Size: Four pouches with 1 ounce of tea each
Whether you're buying for yourself or someone else, Taylors of Harrogate Classic Tea Variety Box (view at Amazon) is the place to start for a tea sampler. It's affordably priced, beautifully packaged, and comes with all the essential teas you could want. Solstice Tea Traders (view at Amazon) is another worthwhile option thanks to its eclectic mix of twelve loose leaf teas.
What to Look for in a Tea Sampler
Those interested in tea samplers likely want to try out different varieties, so it's worth knowing the options. Some samplers contain a medley of all the major varieties—black, green, herbal, and so on—while others specialize in just one variety. Which route are you most interested in? New tea drinkers may want to try lots of varieties. Seasoned tea drinkers may enjoy a sampling of one specific variety.
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.
Samplers will always make a great gift idea for your favorite tea drinker. If you plan on giving one as a present, see if you can find out how the sampler is boxed, as some are more presentable than others. It also helps to know how the recipient brews their tea at home. Some people prefer loose leaf, while others may not have an infuser and, as a result, only drink bagged tea.
How many types of tea are there?
There are so many kinds of tea in the world and so many ways to classify them that it's difficult to give an exact number. Even experts have differing opinions. Some put the figure around 1,500, while others say 3,000. Others still put the number upwards of 20,000 varieties. To make it easier, there are six main categories that many teas are sorted into: black tea, green tea, white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, and fermented or pu-erh teas.
Can I reuse tea bags and tea leaves?
Usually, yes. There isn't a set number of times you can reuse tea bags or tea leaves, but more often than not there's enough flavor left to produce at least one more cup of tasty tea after the first steeping. Loose leaf tea typically provides more uses than tea bags, and some varieties even taste better after they have been steeped once.
How do you make tea?
The steps for making tea at home differ depending on if you use tea bags or loose leaf. With tea bags, the process is a bit easier. Start by filling a kettle with cold water, then heat it until it reaches the ideal temperature for your tea (more information on this below) and pour the hot water directly over the tea bag into your mug. The amount of time it should steep depends on the type of tea you're making. Lighter teas, like green, white, and oolong, only need about one to three minutes. Black tea generally requires three to five minutes, while herbal and rooibos teas should steep anywhere from five to 10 minutes. After the right amount of time has elapsed, take out the tea bag and enjoy.
For those using loose leaf tea, the steps are pretty similar: boil water, pour it over the tea, and let steep for the recommended time. The main difference is that you have to measure the right amount of loose leaf first. We recommend one teaspoon of loose leaf tea for every six ounces of water. If you're making a full pot of tea, the general rule of thumb is one teaspoon of loose leaf per cup, plus one extra scoop.
What water temperature is best for brewing tea?
The best water temperature depends on the type of tea you are making. Gentler teas naturally taste best when brewed at lower temperatures, while bolder teas require hotter temperatures. White tea, for example, is best brewed with water that is 160 degrees. Green tea ranges from 150 to 180 degrees. Oolong is best around 190 degrees. Moving into the stronger teas, black tea ranges from 180 to 212 degrees. Finally, herbal teas sit around the 212-degree mark. Many electric kettles can be pre-programmed to reach a specific temperature, and some even come with designated buttons for different tea varieties.
How much caffeine is in tea?
The amount of caffeine in a cup of tea varies based on a number of factors. One factor is the way the tea is prepared. Everything from water temperature to steep time to the amount of tea used affects caffeine content. Another factor, and one that's easier to identify, is the type of tea used. Keep in mind, though, that two teas of the same variety—two black teas, for example—can contain vastly different amounts of caffeine. On average, an 8-ounce cup of black tea contains around 50 milligrams of caffeine, which is roughly half a cup of coffee. Some black teas have as high as 120 milligrams of caffeine, however. Oolong averages slightly less caffeine than black tea at 40 milligrams per cup. Green tea ranges from 12 to 75 milligrams, with an average of around 30 milligrams. Some white teas have caffeine levels up to 75 milligrams, but the majority are between 15 to 20 milligrams. Finally, herbal tea is naturally caffeine free.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsey Goodwin has worked in the tea industry since 2006. She holds tea lectures across the country, writes marketing and packaging copy for specialty beverage retailers, and is a consultant to companies ranging from small, local establishments to international beverage businesses. Her imbibing adventures have also included leading tea tours in New York City, visiting the tea estates of India, Taiwan, and Japan, and exploring the beverage cultures in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Vancouver, Toronto, Glasgow, London, and many major U.S. cities.
This piece was updated by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of products and interviews field experts for their insight. After joining The Spruce team in 2019, he has also written about a number of other topics, including home goods, technology, and gifts. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and a BA in Communications from Marist College.