Headlines are lessons that ring with truth: you could probably use a nice cup of tea right now. Fortunately for you this very website called Sprudge—the world’s most popular coffee publication, hi, thanks for reading—is also the coffee industry’s leading tea publication, home to a deep and growing bank of thoughtful tea content. We do it because we love drinking tea, sharing tea, and telling stories about tea. Tea is good! But also because we believe tea has an important role to play in the life of the modern coffee lover, especially as part of a well-rounded home beverage situation. It can also be an additional way to support the companies you love in these strange times.
To that end, we’ve put together this here quick recommendation guide to get you steeping and re-steeping from the comfort of your own home. This is but one wee list of tea recommendations; for a more sprawling read, check out our previous mega-guide to buying tea online, plus this feature on the wonders of tea ceramics and this one on why tisanes are also good.
For your general well-being, for your mental health, and to support good businesses and artisan makers around the world, let’s drink some tea!
Our friends and partners at Rishi Tea set the gold standard for tea collaboration in a coffee context, and you’ll find their teas served in tandem with some of the finest coffees in the world. Shopping online with Rishi means entering into a universe of choice, from teawares to Sparkling Botanicals to matcha to a beautiful range of herbal tisanes helpfully organized by function. But I’m most especially here for Rishi’s extraordinary Garden Direct range of fine and rare teas, many sourced from individual artisan tea producers across Asia. If you’ve never had really good Phoenix Dancong before, start there—it’s a kind of complex, utterly delicious roasted oolong from southeast China that tastes sweet, floral, and wonderfully caramelized all at the same time, not unlike a really good Gesha. I also love that piquant, bittersweet range of flavors—mushroom, ocean breeze, nori—you get from high quality Gyokuru from Japan, and Rishi Garden Direct has the good stuff.
But again, it’s a choose your own adventure here at Rishi’s website and through their partnerships with a range of fine coffee brands. If you want to shop around support coffee companies amidst your tea habit, check out the yummy Elderberry Healer blend (via Olympia Coffee Roasting Company) and pick up Rishi’s easy to use “Simple Brew” loose leaf tea pot (available here via Verve) with which to brew it.
Really this is just scratching the surface! Go explore the Rishi website. They’re shipping free right now within the United States for orders starting at $30.
Kilogram Tea of Chicago is an American tea company born out of many years of experience sourcing tea in collaboration with Intelligentsia Coffee. Today the brand is distinct in style and intention, but continues to compliment the coffee offerings at Intelligentsia coffee bars nationwide. Like its coffee sibling, Kilogram’s offerings are built on seasonality, which means the New, Seasonal section of their website is where you should start. Here right now you’ll find a lovely medium steamed Sencha, as well as a lightly steamed offering, both from impeccable producers.
From there you can check out a range of additional offerings, from a benchmark organic Tieguanyin to really yummy Early Spring Snow Sprout to a concise, thoughtful selection of teawares for wherever you’re at in your tea journey. Subscribers receive 15% off their first order and orders within the Continental US ship free after $35.
Equator Coffees’ “Leaf & Water”
Tea is a longtime part of the story for Equator Coffees, which means you can shop for your tea habit while supporting a great specialty company (that’s also a B Corp). Check out classic, crowd-pleasing profiles like Yunnan Black, White Peony, or Dragon Well, plus a host of herbal blends. Combine with a coffee order while you’re at it, and enjoy free shipping on all orders right now from Equator.
Dogwood Coffee’s Cascara
Okay, cascara isn’t technically tea—actually, it’s a tisane—but Dogwood Coffee of Minneapolis has that good cascara right now, perfect for cold brewin’, baking, or plain old steeping it up hot with a splash of good honey.
Kettl Tea of Brooklyn continue to make a name for themselves as perhaps the United States’ finest purveyors of fine Japanese tea. If you’re a matcha at home person this is what you’ve been searching for, from top of the line single cultivar sets to solid entry level options. I’m consistently floored by how good the Gyokuro teas—perfect for spring!—are from Kettl, as well as their low-caffeine, high flavor mildly roasted Hojicha offerings. From the incredibly wonderful matcha chocolate to kiddo friendly soba cha, this is stuff you’ll want to share with your friends and family. Sign up for their newsletter and get 10% off your order, and enjoy free shipping within the United States right now.
It’s hard to substitute for the meditative calm of drinking tea in Floating Mountain’s stunning Upper West Side gallery space in Manhattan. But in the era of social distancing, Floating Mountain’s webshop will suffice. Shop here for impeccably sourced “rock teas” (Yancha)—something about a Purple Robe or a Big Red Robe feels perfect for our current Work From Home moment. Really stunning teas.
Spirit Tea have established themselves as the tea purveyor at several fine coffee bars around the United States—you can find one near you using the brand’s shop locator. On the retail side Spirit offer a range of teas from around the world, including helpful bundles like this matcha starter set, or the oolong tea sampler. All orders ship free, no minimum buy required.
Up-and-coming Los Angeles tea purveyors fusing the ancient art of tea brewing with influences from hip hop and cannabis cultures. Check out “The Come Up,” Stand.still’s all-in-one sampler box that includes four different kinds of teas, a reusable tea filter and bamboo spoon.
Yummy Portland, Oregon based purveyors of matcha teas. Go with the matcha set and be sure to peruse their cool selection of teawares.
Chai is synonymous with the coffee bar experience, but draws on a centuries-old tradition of tea and spice blending from India. Tanglewood Chai of Portland, Oregon are writing a new script for what chai means here in America, selling a small range of wonderfully spiced concentrates ready for home use in a variety of ways. Whether combined with steamed milk a la your favorite coffee shop or purposed towards home baking, craft cocktails and sodas, this is honestly some of the best chai we’ve ever tasted.
Get a cool tea subscription + keep reading
Beloved tea nerd brands like White2Tea, The Tea PL, and many more offer cool home tea subscriptions, which is a wonderful way to discover more about what you do and don’t like from the wonderful world of tea. Not to keep outlinking to the same page but we’re really proud of the tea writing we’ve published over the last few years on Sprudge so check it out, drink tea with us, and keep diving here for many, many more online tea seller suggestions and write-ups.
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network.
Photos in this feature by Zachary Carlsen and Anthony Jordan III for Sprudge Media Network.